An Aging Society


Service Research Opportunities, Special issue of Journal of Services Marketing; Deadline 30 Sep 2019

Call for Papers

In Transition: Service Research Opportunities for An Aging Society

Journal of Services Marketing
Special Issue

Edited by Volker G. Kuppelwieser and Phil Klaus
Submission Deadline: September 30th, 2019

Eight years ago, the Sunday Times proclaimed that “The Silver Tsunami is Closing in” (Sunday Times 2010). Our society’s structure is changing from a world with a high portion of young people towards a society where older people are the largest demographic. This shift has tremendous implications not just for society, but on services and service research, too. Service provision, customer engagement, and customer experience practice and research need to address this monumental change.

While the increased average age of consumers seems widely accepted, scholars largely ignore the societal change and the consequences for service research and practice. This special issue puts age and its impact on services in the spotlight.

Submissions to the JSM Age Special Issue are now being accepted. The editors welcome targeted reviews of the scientific literature, which make a contribution to our understanding of the topic of interest and highlight significant gaps that require the development of new theory, research methods, and empirical work. The editors are also interested in new, contradictory work that highlights the impact of age and its outcomes on existing theories and approaches. The editors further encourage submissions based upon collaboration with the business community and governmental agencies, highlighting the practice of how the societal change is being managed, and the impact it has on both, consumers, and business performance. Papers that question the applicability of traditional age concepts are encouraged.

JSM has a 2017 impact factor of 2.4, ranks #67 out of 121 journals in the “Business” category (source: 2016 Journal Citation Reports) and is a Q1 (quartile 1) on the 2017 Scimago rankings.

Background to the Age Special Issue

In 1950, one in 15 persons of the world population aged 60 or older was 80 or above; in 2000 this ratio increased to one in nine and by 2050 it is expected to increase to approximately one in five (United Nations 2008). Declining birth rates and increasing life expectations tips the balance between the young and the old towards older people being the largest demographic (and consumer) group. In more developed regions, the proportion of older persons already exceeds that of children; and by 2050 we will have double as many older people than children (United Nations 2008).

Marketing research explores the behavioral differences behaviors between the old and young consumers. Traditionally, this stream of research posits a normative, chronological age-related decline in extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and individuals’ behavior (e.g., Homburg and Giering 2001; Kohijoki 2011; Kohijoki and Marjanen 2013; Kooij et al. 2011; Lambert-Pandraud et al. 2005; Mägi 2003). Chronological age has been found to explain several possible changes that occur in people’s psychological, social, and societal functioning in their life cycle. However, scholars suggest that chronological age may only serve as a proxy for age-related processes. In that sense, Griffiths (1997, p. 208) notes that “we should stop accepting chronological age as a factor .” Heckhausen et al. (2010, p. 37) argue that “chronological age itself does not automatically propel progression through the timetable of development tasks.” Indeed, the general process of aging consists out of several dimensions of which chronological aging is only one (Carstensen et al. 1999; Cleveland and McFarlane Shore 1992; Settersten and Mayer 1997). Recent research has found that individuals differ in their biological age even if they are of the same chronological age (Belsky et al. 2015).

This research is in line with the increasing importance of older consumers but may cause researchers and practitioners to misinterpret the true value of their results, because chronological age is not discriminant when motivations or behaviors enter the fray. While alternative age-related measurements have been discussed in the past (e.g., Barak and Schiffman 1981; Schiffman and Sherman 1991; Sudbury and Simcock 2009; Tepper 1994), related research fields emphasize the older individuals’ change in self- and time perspectives (Carstensen 2006; Drolet et al. 2010; Fung and Carstensen 2003; Hicks et al. 2012). Current age-related measures thus seem incomplete in addressing consumers’ change in how they perceive themselves and how they perceive time.

All these considerations limitedly found their way into service research. We, subsequently, call for a cautious application of chronological age as a correlate or as the main focus in research studies. We encourage authors to think across the edge and highlight disruptions and inconsistencies due to older service customers motives, expectations, perceptions, or behavior.


The domains to be considered cover the variety of field covered by the term ‘services’. This includes services marketing, service operations and services management. The approach can be multi-discipline or from a discipline outside services however the contribution must be to the service domain.

A non-exhaustive list of topics that could be covered in the special issue are:

  • Relationships between different age concepts (e.g., Socioemotional selectivity theory (SST), cognitive age, chronological age) and their application in services
  • Impact of age on scientific service theories
  • Changes in service consumers behavior when they get older
  • How do older customers experience a service? Does it change over time, if yes, which aspects become more or less relevant?
  • Can different age concepts explain how the customer experience of older consumers better than traditional ones?
  • Older service consumer-related motivations and well-being
  • Service orientations of older consumers
  • Age identity and services
  • Different service expectations of the young vs. the old customer
  • Lack of ability to participate in the service encounter
  • The practice of managing a societal change in terms of CX management. How do companies and government address, and cater to the increasing influence of older consumers and citizens?
  • How do companies address the societal changes in terms of their customer strategies and a shift into consuming and buying power to older, longer living, and more active consumers?


All submissions should be made to the special issue identified on the ScholarOne Online Manuscript submission system All submitted manuscripts should not have been published, accepted for publication, or be currently under consideration elsewhere. Manuscripts should follow the style guidelines available on the Journal of Services Marketing home page at:

Key dates/deadlines

  • January 2019 – Call for papers issued
  • Jun 2019 – Submission deadline

Publication: Issue 4 or 5 2020

Guest Editors

Volker G. Kuppelwieser
NEOMA Business School
Mont-Saint-Aignan, France

Phil Klaus
International University of Monaco, Monaco

Please direct any questions about the submission process, or any other administrative issue, to the JSM Editorial Office:


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