Vulnerable Consumers

Vulnerable Consumers

Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7518-6.ch005
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Abstract

A number of internal and external factors contribute to consumer states of vulnerability. This chapter discusses the behavior of four different vulnerable consumer groups: older consumers, children, low literate consumers, and gamblers. Vulnerability can be described as a state of powerlessness that arises when an individual does not possess control over his or her own situation and must instead depend on external factors. This chapter also discusses how consumption situations and deceptive advertising can affect vulnerable consumers' decision making and the implications of consumer vulnerability for marketing practices and public policy, suggesting the importance of these groups and the need to develop better and more specific marketing strategies for them.
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1. Aging Consumers

Population aging is a worldwide phenomenon. In 2014, about 43 million American are older than 65 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012); by 2030, one out of every five Americans will be 65 or older (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). Drolet, Schwarz and Yoon (2010) argued that economic effects of population aging will be far greater in the near future than anything experienced at present or in the past. According to the United Nations (2012), these phenomena can be explained by two factors: people are living longer and healthier lives and people are having fewer children. As a result, many developed countries are already on an inevitable journey toward population aging, as greater longevity and lower fertility rates are becoming universal trends.

In addition to its overall effect on the economy, population aging will alter the consumer market for saving and consumption because of the changing spending habits of older adults (Drolet et al., 2010). Consumption in health care, donations, total spending, vacations and experiences are expected to grow as consumers in developed countries reach older ages; thus, marketers should pay special attention to demographic shifts, because they represent business opportunities. In the next section, the consumption patterns in the older population will be discussed.

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