Understanding heterogeneity among elderly consumers: an evaluation of segmentation approaches in the functional food market.
Sommaire de l'article
It is beneficial for both the public health community and the food industry to meet nutritional needs of elderly consumers through product formats that they want. The heterogeneity of the elderly market poses a challenge, however, and calls for market segmentation. Although many researchers have proposed ways to segment the elderly consumer population, the elderly food market has received surprisingly little attention in this respect. Therefore, the present paper reviewed eight potential segmentation bases on their appropriateness in the context of functional foods aimed at the elderly: cognitive age, life course, time perspective, demographics, general food beliefs, food choice motives, product attributes and benefits sought, and past purchase. Each of the segmentation bases had strengths as well as weaknesses regarding seven evaluation criteria. Given that both product design and communication are useful tools to increase the appeal of functional foods, we argue that elderly consumers in this market may best be segmented using a preference-based segmentation base that is predictive of behaviour (for example, attributes and benefits sought), combined with a characteristics-based segmentation base that describes consumer characteristics (for example, demographics). In the end, the effectiveness of (combinations of) segmentation bases for elderly consumers in the functional food market remains an empirical matter. We hope that the present review stimulates further empirical research that substantiates the ideas presented in this paper.