Purpose – This paper aims to compare the levels of status consumption for Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y (Millennials). Design/methodology/approach – With an email sample of 220 adult consumers living in the southeast USA, this study measures status consumption, generational cohort, and demographics. Findings – The study finds significant differences in the level of status consumption by generational cohort. The average level of status consumption was highest for Generation Y, followed by Generation X and then Baby Boomers. In looking at the significance of these differences between individual cohorts, there was a significant difference between Generation Y and Baby Boomers. This suggests that while there are differences in the level of status consumption by generation, this difference is only significant between Generation Y and Baby Boomers. This paper then examines if this relationship between generational cohort and status consumption is impacted by demographic variables, such as gender, income, and education. The results illustrate that, holding generation constant, there is no significant relationship between gender, income, or education with status consumption. There is also no significant interaction between generational cohort and the demographic variables of gender, income, and education. This suggests that the relationship between generational cohort and status consumption is due only to generation and is not being impacted by other demographic variables. Research limitations/implications – Limitations of the study include that it was a convenience sample of predominately white, educated, and younger adult respondents. Additional research is needed to specifically examine ethnic group differences and cohorts prior to the Baby Boomers. Practical implications – For luxury marketers they need to consider generational cohort, rather than other demographic variables, when segmenting their market. Originality/value – This paper addresses a gap in the literature by examining if there are differences in the motivation to consume for status based on generational cohort, focusing on the cohorts of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Additionally, this paper proposes that generational cohort is a better means to segment the status consumer than other demographic variables.
Journal of Consumer Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 16, 2012
Keywords: Status consumption; Generational cohort; Luxury marketing; Social status; Baby boomer generation; Consumers