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An investigation of age and gender differences in children’s preferences underlying choice

Marie A. Yeh (Loyola University Maryland, Sellinger School of Business and Management, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Robert D. Jewell (Kent State University College of Business Administration, Kent, Ohio, USA)
Cesar Zamudio (Kent State University College of Business Administration, Kent, Ohio, USA)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 15 November 2018

Issue publication date: 13 June 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate age and gender differences in young consumers’ attribute preferences that underlie their choice decisions. This research proposes and finds that attribute preferences are moderated by age but not gender. Understanding how children at different ages evaluate a product’s attributes is essential to new children’s product development.

Design/methodology/approach

Hierarchical Bayesian choice-based conjoint analysis was used to assess attribute importance via a series of choice tasks among children and adults. Adults completed the study by survey, whereas children were interviewed and led through the choice tasks.

Findings

This research finds that the preference structure for a product’s attributes differs systematically based on the age of children. Younger children chose based on perceptually salient attributes of a product, whereas older children chose based on cognitively salient attributes. When children’s attribute preferences are compared to adults, older children value attributes more similarly to adults than younger children. While gender differences were proposed and found, further analysis indicated that these differences were driven by adults in the sample and that no gender differences existed in the children’s age categories.

Originality/value

This study is the first to study children’s preference structure in complex choices with different ages preferring different attributes. By using conjoint analysis, this research is able to understand children’s underlying decision process, as utility scores are obtained providing a level of precision for understanding the underlying process of children’s choices that other studies have not used.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research would not have been possible without the funding support provided by a grant from the Kent State University Graduate Student Senate as well as the Department of Marketing of Kent State University. Authors would also like to thank the many children and parents, as well as the administration of the summer camp programs of the Cities of Kent and Akron, Ohio and Kent State University for allowing them access to participants for this study.

Citation

Yeh, M.A., Jewell, R.D. and Zamudio, C. (2019), "An investigation of age and gender differences in children’s preferences underlying choice", Young Consumers, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 14-28. https://doi.org/10.1108/YC-02-2018-00781

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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