Do growing brands win younger consumers?

Katherine Anderson and Byron Sharp

University of South Australia

Introduction and background

Are young consumers more willing to try different brands? Are they easier targets if you are trying to grow your brand? A colleague in industry had noticed that spirits brands that were growing strongly, like Patron and Grey Goose (UK 2006 data), tended to over-index among younger consumers, while those that were declining tended to over-index among older consumers. We were curious whether this pattern was evident in purchase data from other categories and what plausible explanations there might be. We were particularly intrigued by this pattern because research by Ehrenberg and colleagues has demonstrated that such deviations are uncommon, with rival brands tending to sell to similar types of consumer (Hammond et al. 1996; Kennedy & Ehrenberg 2000a, 2000b, 2001a, 2001b; Ehrenberg & Kennedy 2000; Kennedy et al. 2000). However, it seemed plausible that, within the small deviations that do exist between rival brands,[1] a systematic pattern might be evident.