Effect of Demographic Factors on Consumer Behavior: Age, sex, Income and Education

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  • Post last modified:January 25, 2019

Effect of Demographic Factors on Consumer Behavior

Consumer behavior can be affected by several factors. It can be different from person to person based on his age, income, sex, education and marital status. You can easily notice the difference between the buying decisions and consumer behavior of two different people from different economic groups. A person with high level income makes big ticket purchases whereas one from lower economic strata makes small ticket purchases.  These factors are evident at the surface. However, there are several factors affecting buying decisions and consumer behavior. Some of these differences are easily noticeable whereas the others might be a little difficult to observe.

This article focuses on four important demographic factors and the effect they have on consumer behavior.  These factors are age, sex, education and income.  Consumer behavior is affected as these factors change.  You can observe a change in the consumer behavior of someone who has grown richer or more educated.

Demographic factors' effect on consumer behavior


Age is an important demographic factor that affects consumer behavior. As people grow, their needs change. Similar changes come to their buying decision making patterns. With age, our health needs change and so do many other needs.  Age brings changes to people’s lifestyle and with it their needs and personal values are also affected. When people are young, they spend more on their lifestyle needs from fun and movies to fashion. As they grow older, their expenses on these things shrink. Elderly people mostly remain indoor, however, their health related expenses may rise.  In this way, age becomes one of the fundamental demographic factors affecting consumer behavior and buying decisions.

Age does not just affect buying behavior, it is also an important factor affecting market segmentation and marketing strategy. Marketers segment their target market on the basis of age. There are several products that are marketed only to the millenials. Similarly, there are products meant for the elderly and which meet the needs of people past their middle ages. Lifestyle gadgets and magazines are mostly marketed to the youth or the millennial generation. Since, the taste of this generation is vastly different and they are more digitally inclined, this affects not just the choice of marketing strategy but also the marketing channels used to market to them.

People’s choice of brands and products start changing as they grow older. A young man’s choices can be vastly different from the elderly since age brings changes that affect our flavor. An older person may have more serious choices and will be less fun loving than when he was young. Chocolates are meant for kids and young people. Their consumption among the elderly is much lower.  Age determines several things and when we retire our consumption patterns also change according to the change in income.   Elderly people are less digitally inclined and therefore their consumption of digital products can also be lower.


Between male and female sexes, several things are different and these differences also affect their buying choices. The two sexes have different needs in terms of fashion and lifestyle. So, their consumer behavior in these two areas can be vastly different.  It is mainly the difference in needs that lead to differing choices. However, there are several areas where consumption patterns can be similar too like in terms of food and fun. The same movies and same fast food brand may appeal to both the sexes. The same is true about technological gadgets too. However, there are still several products in the market which are meant for either of the sexes not each.  Decision making patterns may also vary between the two sexes. The homemakers are less likely to be involved in impulse buying.  So many advertisements that you daily come across are directed at either of the sexes. From beer adverts to the grooming products, the same adverts do not appeal to both the sexes. In most of the households, it is the women that influence most of the product choices.


Income is a very important factor that affects the buying decisions and consumer behavior of people.  Across different income levels, the difference in product choices and buying patterns can easily be marked.  A person in the middle class makes his buying decisions based on utility. However, someone from the upper class would want style, design and special features while making a purchase.  The channels for the marketing of luxury items are different from those for the ordinary ones. Luxury items are mostly marketed through luxury magazines. The level of income determines what kind of products someone regularly purchases. A buyer with higher disposable income will spend more on luxury or lifestyle items. People with higher disposable income also spend more on vacations and tours. Customer service and after sales support also become important factors when it comes to big ticket purchases.


Education affects how people view things around them. It affects the level of discretion they employ while making purchases. In this era, education has also become the determinant of social class and the easiest method to climb up in the society. The more educated a person is, the higher the level of discretion he will employ in making purchases. People’s preferences can change with education. Every customer is well informed in this era. However, the more educated ones take more time before deciding a purchase. Education affects a number of things including the fashion you wear and the programs you watch. It affects even your choice of stationary and the magazines you are reading. It is why same ads do not work with all customers. Highly educated customers look for information and do not rely on ads alone. They question the information served before them. If observed carefully, education’s effect can easily be seen on consumer behavior. An educated customer would weigh his options carefully before going for a purchase.


Consumer behavior is affected by several factors, chief among them being age, sex, income and education. While our preferences change with age and level of education, sex and income also affect our product choices and decision making patterns. The economic crisis has passed. However, during the crisis, people’s disposable incomes had declined and this had affected their purchasing behavior. In this way, in a period of economic turbulence people grow more careful with their expenses, which is also a proof that income affects consumer behavior. However, apart from these demographic factors, psychographic and geographic factors too have an effect on consumer behavior. These factors too can have a deep impact on how people buy and spend and how marketing must be done to achieve higher sales.


Impact of Demographic Factors on Consumer Behaviour – A Consumer Behaviour Survey in Himachal Pradesh – Rakesh Kumar

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.