Track 1.11: The Ambiguous Role of Technology in Older Consumers' Well-Being and Healthy Aging
The overall purpose of this track is to better understand ways to enhance the well-being of the large and growing population of older consumers (65+) through the use of technology. We plan to achieve this purpose through the following research goals:
- Outline the different perspectives on what constitutes “aging well”, “healthy aging”, and synonymous constructs.
- Review current and emerging theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, and larger programs that seek to address these ideals, with a special emphasis on the role of technology.
- Identify critical issues, opportunities, and challenges that the use of technology in the service of these ideals present.
- Outline a future-research agenda that explores opportunities and addresses challenges toward helping the growing population of older consumers leverage technological solutions to achieve these ideals.
The population of older consumers is rapidly increasing in countries across the globe (Guido et al 2018). About 13% of the global population is 60 years and older in 2015, and this proportion is expected to almost double by 2050 (United Nations, 2015). Physical and mental limitations that often accompany aging present challenges to these consumers’ well-being (Barnhart and Penaloza 2013) that many families and governments find difficult to successfully address. Market actors have proposed new technologies as a solution to older consumers’ increasing need for assistance (Bedaf et al 2015; Caic et al 2015). Technology has been marketed for its endless potential to help address issues associated with affordances for aging in place, living independently, and longer–all modern markers of Western notions of aging well–by ensuring that older consumers, for example, take their medications on time and haven’t fallen or otherwise become immoble. Propelled by an increasing number of older adults in the population, the establishment of a institutional global focus on healthy aging, such as The UN program The Decade of Healthy Ageing 2020–2030 (www.who.int/initiatives/decade-of-healthy-ageing), technological developments that promise to sustain or assist healthy aging (Baker et al. 2018), and an increasing attention in the public discourse in relation to the role of older adults in society (Nunan and Di Domenico, 2019), the market for healthy aging has suddenly become one of the most promising markets (Guido et al 2018), attracting both the interest of business and governments.
However, the role of technology in healthy aging is ambivalent, offering both benefits and hindrances (Figueiredo et al, 2021, Neves and Mead 2021, Neves, Waycott, and Maddox, 2021). Despite the market’s embracing technology as a hero poised to address the challenges of aging, research demonstrates technology can be both a friend and a foe (Yap et al. 2021), an element that changes the agency of consumers, the affordances of consumer assemblages, and the nature of relationships in ways that are both desirable and undesirable (Schneider-Kamp and Askegaard 2022). Increased use of technology also raises questions about the nature of the value that the service or product provides. For example, competent, reliable, accurate services provided by a robot would likely lack the social aspect of service provision (Price and Arnould 1999) that many older consumers and their family members value (Barnhart and Penaloza 2013; Barnhart, Huff, and Cotte 2014).
Consumer research has addressed the issue of consumption and aging through diverse approaches such as family life cycle, decision making, stigma, vulnerability, identity, and consumer interdependence and ensembles. Research has also started exploring the impact of new technologies aimed at facilitating healthy aging, including the ways technologies both enable and constrain consumer agency (Franco, 2020; Gilly, Celsi and Schau 2012; Schneider-Kamp and Askegaard, 2022), thus demonstrating the growing complexity that technological interventions create for those striving to age well and healthily. However, there is still much to be understood in this fast-emerging field.
We want to take a step back and think about varying perspectives on what constitutes “aging well”, healthy aging” (Cardona 2008), and “successful aging” (Martinson and Berridge, 2015), and the explicit and tacit goals of these differing perspectives. Questions of which age-related meanings are valued and how these meanings inform pragmatic approaches to addressing the challenges of aging deserve more attention. For example, what are the multiple understandings of “healthy aging”, “aging well”, and “good quality of life” in old age? How do the different approaches to these ideals impact consumer researchers’ understandings of critical issues to be addressed, methodological approaches to use, research practices, and proposed solutions? After articulating these perspectives and goals, we will then move on to explore challenges and opportunities presented by new technologies that are currently, or could be, used in service of these goals.
We encourage applications from both senior and junior scholars (at least one place on track membership will be allocated to a junior scholar). The track is also open to relevant external stakeholders.
For queries related to this track please email: Bernardo Figueiredo, email@example.com
To apply to this track, please email a Research Vision to Bernardo Figueiredo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Track Chair Bios
Bernardo Figueiredo is an Associate Professor of Marketing at RMIT University. Bernardo's research interests focus on understanding how the globalisation of markets and cultures shapes consumption and marketing practices. Bernardo works with companies and communities to create social and organisational change. He employs diverse methodological and design tools and sociocultural analysis to propose novel insights for better human experiences and market orientation. Bernardo has published in Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Retailing, Consumption Markets and Culture, Marketing Theory, the Journal of Business Research, the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, among others.
Michelle Barnhart is Associate Professor of Marketing at Oregon State University. Her research focuses on cultural norms, social groups, identity, and consumer well-being as produced in consumption. She has investigated the contexts of eldercare, Americans' use of credit/debt, and ethical consumption. Her current research investigates firearm consumption and policy. Her research has been published in Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Marketing Management, and Journal of Macromarketing, and been featured in dozens of media outlets. She currently serves on the editorial review boards of Journal of Consumer Research and Journal of Business Research.
Nil Özçaglar-Toulouse is professor of marketing at the University of Lille. Her research topics focus on theoretical issues in transformative research and in consumer culture theory (consumer resistance, ethical consumption, acculturation, identity projects); social marketing and public policy implications (e.g., immigration, fair trade, sustainable development). Her research has appeared in Organisation Studies, Marketing Theory, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Marketing Management, etc. She co-organized the 4th Transformative Consumer Research Conference in France, May 24-25, 2013. She is currently vice-president in charge of scientific edition and open science at the French Marketing Association in May 2022.