The (B)old and the Beautiful: Investigating the Preference of Senior Consumers Concerning (the Age of) Models Used in Advertising

  • Katarina Panic
  • Verolien Cauberghe
  • Delphine Verhoye


Today, it is estimated that 7.6 per cent of the world population is aged over 65 (CIA, 2009), making it the fastest-growing age segment in the world. Considering that older citizens do not only grow in number, but also in life expectancy and economic power, one would expect the elderly to receive a great amount of attention from advertisers. But even though marketing executives are aware of the importance of senior consumers, older models are rarely used in mainstream advertising. When they appear in advertisements, elderly are primarily depicted in a negative, stereotypical way (Gunter, 1998; Sikkel, 2004). Older models are mainly found in ads for ‘senior products’ like health products, often suggesting some form of physical impairment. However, these cliché images are far from the current reality. Today’s seniors are socially active, living an active and dynamic life. They are also a powerful consumer group with the means and the willingness to try out new things (Hanson, 1998). Nevertheless, almost no models older than 50 can be found in advertisements for general, age-universal products. This underrepresentation and stereotyping evokes feelings of dissatisfaction, frustration and even insult (Dutta-Bergman, 2006). Many older consumers become alienated from and disinterested in advertisements because they do not identify with the models used in advertisements. These emotions can negatively influence seniors’ attitudes towards advertising (and brands) and affect their purchase intention. While a series of studies revealed that older consumers would like to see more models of their own age in ads (e.g. Long, 1998), other research suggests that seniors do not wish to be confronted more models of their age group in advertisements (Greco, 1989; Carrigan and Szmigin, 1999). Therefore, the main question addressed in this study is: do senior consumers prefer seeing models of their own age, models who match their subjective age, or even younger models in advertising?


Purchase Intention Female Model Model Likeability Central Intelligence Agency Advertising Research 
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Copyright information

© Gabler Verlag | Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katarina Panic
    • 1
  • Verolien Cauberghe
    • 1
  • Delphine Verhoye
    • 1
  1. 1.Ghent UniversityBelgium

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