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Foreword (InDepth Issue 16)

For this edition our start point was the marketing and communication profession's lack of readiness to address the growing significance of the ageing demographic.

Fauja Singh runs marathons to counter racial prejudice against Sikhs and has an array of colourful turbans which he changes from run to run as the mood takes him. When he isn’t running you might bump into him on a London bus or enjoying afternoon tea. One thing sets him apart: ‘chronological age’. As a Centurion he is the oldest marathon runner ever recorded. This might also mean he’s never been asked to a qual interview. He reached the cut off age — 55 — in 1967, when qualitative research was little more than a gleam in Bill Schlackman’s eye.

We invited Janet Kiddle to reflect on the ‘baby boomer’ generation. She highlights how traditional myths and stereotypes about ‘older consumers’ misrepresent their engagement in brands and advertising.

Next, we are excited to include the award-winning thinking of Lisa Edgar and David Bunker, who bring a new set of constructs and vocabulary to the arena and expose the reductionist impact of taking chronological age alone as a dominant measure. They show the importance of understanding and using ‘perceived age’ as an emerging but evidently valuable construct, applicable across all age cohorts, not just the ‘older consumer’.

And, finally, Dick Stroud reviews the breadth of theories which, alongside chronological age, have been discussed as influencing the decision making and values of consumers in the 55+ age cohorts. He similarly argues that we need to re-think any assumptions that age is the only or most useful proxy for behaviour. A sentiment, I’m sure, loudly echoed by Fauja Singh

 

Ken Parker
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2012