Socio-Economic Effects on Mobile Phone Adoption Behavior among Older Consumers

Socio-Economic Effects on Mobile Phone Adoption Behavior among Older Consumers

Sanna Sintonen (Lappeenranta University of Technology, School of Business, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-611-7.ch083
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Aging is one of the major trends that is about to change the structure of consumer markets. As people age, they face changes in their health and functioning, that make them differ from their younger counterparts. Retiring is one of the changes that people face when they age, it clearly gives them more opportunities to make choices and more time for decision-making, and therefore their consuming power shouldn’t be overlooked. As electronic services are continuously developed, it is important to analyze aging people and identify the typical characteristics that affect their mobile phone usage.
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Aging has psychological, biological, social and economic influences on consumers (Pak & Kambil, 2006). For marketers the biological issues create challenges for product and service designs and communication methods. Changes in memory and information processing result in declining rate of learning and avoiding situations that aren’t familiar. Economic situations change due to retirement, but it is considered that elderly have high discretionary income (Lunsford & Burnett, 1992). People age differently and aging itself is a multidimensional process, therefore differences in consumer responses among older people are not likely to be the result of any specific factor (Moschis, 1992), it is thus necessary to become familiar with aging related characteristics. Health has been considered important, when aging consumers have been segmented. Perceptions of health vary among different social groups and depend very much on age and experience and thus self-assessments can be very individual and eccentric (Blaxter, 1990). According to Leinonen (2002), self-rated health is determined by the existence or absence of chronicle diseases, level of functioning, way of living, psychological well-being, socio-demographic and socio-economic factors and adaptation to changes emerging through aging.

According to Czaja and Lee (2007), age-related changes in cognition have important implications for the design of technical systems, because human-technology interaction is an information-processing task. Learning is closely tied to memory functioning and even a normal decline of memory through aging renders difficulties in learning (Suutama, 2004). Cognitive abilities are thus related to technology adoption, because new technology requires new learning, which relies heavily on component cognitive abilities underlying fluid intelligence (Czaja & Lee, 2007). Fluid intelligence includes abstract thinking, reasoning, some of the memory functions and quick problem solving capacity in new situations (Suutama, 2004). This is why the complexity of innovation becomes important for aging consumers decision-making. Theory of planned behavior suggests that perceived behavioral control influences behavioral intentions and refers to people’s perception of the ease or difficulty of performing the behavior of interest (Ajzen, 1985, 1991). The effort expected to bring a course of behavior to a successful conclusion is likely to increase with perceived behavioral control (Ajzen, 1991). The greater the perceived behavioral control the stronger should be the intention to perform the behavior and it will more likely occur. The harder the person tries, and the greater is his control over personal and external factors that may interfere, the greater is the likelihood that he will attain his behavioral goal (Ajzen, 1985).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cognitive ability: The degree of the ability to learn and take care of normal matters.

Perceived behavioral control: The degree to which the innovation is understandable and easy to use.

Technology anxiety: The degree to which the usage or idea of using the technology in question arouses unfavorable feelings and fear.

Physical restrictions: The degree of problems arising from the size of the mobile phones.

Innovation: Idea, product or service that is new to the adopting consumer.

Adoption: A decision to buy and start using an innovation.

Perceived health: The degree to which individuals perceived one’s own well-being in terms of health conditions.

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