Aging and the Problem of Television Clutter

Rose L Johnson and Cathy J Cobb-Walgren

Few studies have specifically addressed information processing by older consumers. Yet the growth of the elderly as a consumer group makes this an issue of vital importance to marketers and advertisers. This study examines the effects of clutter and age–both chronological and functional–on responses to television advertising. Evidence is provided that clutter affects older, cognitively slower viewers more than it does younger viewers.

To the 32 million Americans who are 65 or older (US Bureau of the Census, 1990), television is more than just a broadcast medium. It is a social presence in their homes and in their lives. For some seniors, television fills the gap created by the loss of a loved one. For others, whose contacts have diminished through retirement and the departure of grown children, television offers 'the illusion of living in a populated world' (Davis and Kubey, 1982).