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A healthy ageing framework from a consumer-centric approach

United Nations data shows that the global percentage of the population aged 65 years and over has increased from 6% in 1990 to an expected 9.3% in 2020 (United Nations, 2020). While the world population is growing older and living for longer, healthy ageing has become an important agenda for governments and societies in both developed and developing countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines healthy ageing as the “process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age”, reflecting the perspectives of public health management and gerontology (Peel et al., 2004). Nevertheless, this definition ignores aging consumers’ own view of their choice and self-engagement of healthy aging practices.

Not understanding lay consumers’ views is risky because none of the public engagement activities or intervention schemes would be effective if the lay consumers do not regard them as relevant. To address this knowledge gap, this paper takes on a consumer-centric view, commonly used in marketing research, to an area largely examined in gerontology only.

How do aging consumers sustain a balance of body/mind/spirit through their daily practices?

We explored the healthy ageing practices of older adults using an inductive mode of reasoning, 18 in-depth interviews were conducted with participants, aged from 62 to 90, living in London.

The findings show that aging consumers engage in three types of healthy ageing practices:

  • the maintenance of body through activities such as exercising, walking, and gardening to keep them active and fit, as well as having a healthy diet;
  • continuous stimulation of the mind through reading, painting, and game playing;
  • caring of the spirit by staying emotionally connected with family and friends for their support and companionship.

Consumption practices that tap into the three dimensions of body, mind, and spirit are keenly engaged in by some aging consumers.

However, not all aging consumers have engaged in practices that tap into all three dimensions at the same time. Some practices are single-dimensional, while some others can satisfy more than one of the dimensions. For example, Sudoku is good for mind stimulation, but does not help facilitate emotional bonding or physical activeness. Dog-walking brings in companionship as well as physical exercise. Joining a singing group taps into three dimensions – singing together facilitates community bonding, singing while standing up promotes physical activeness, while learning new songs in different languages helps mind-stimulation.

healthy ageing

Our research offers practical insights to government policy holders and institutions that focus on promoting healthy ageing. Taking a consumer-centric approach to healthy ageing, we argue that ageing consumers’ wellbeing is better facilitated when engaging in consumption choices and practices that activate and satisfy the three areas of wellbeing concurrently. This is turn leads to a comprehensive and holistic view of the wellbeing of elderly consumers.

ageing practices


Yen, D., Cohen, G., Wei, L. and Asaad, Y., 2022. Towards a framework of healthy aging practices. Journal of Business Research, 142, pp.176-187.

Downloadable resources

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dorothy Yen
Dorothy Yen - Professor Dorothy A. Yen is a Professor in Marketing. She is currently the Director of Research at Brunel Business School, Brunel University London.  Dorothy takes a consumer-centric approach to understanding and discussing marketing, branding, and tourism matters. Dorothy studies how culture affects human behaviour, in both B2B and B2C domains. In the B2B domain, she looks at cross-cultural business relationships, with a particular focus on understanding how cultural-specific factors affect business relationships and collaborations. In the B2C domain, she studies consumer acculturation and sojourners’ and migrants' consumption practices and social media activities in relation to their cultural identity, as well as tourism boycotts and tourists' interactions with destinations on social media. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dorothy explored how migrants in the UK attempted to cope with the life-threatening disease while dealing with institutional uncertainty and a hostile host environment. Dorothy’s proposal on branding Wales as a land of dragons and legends triggered numerous discussions, and she has been invited to give evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee.  Dorothy is a member of the Marketing and Corporate Brand Research Group at Brunel Business School and a lab leader of the Responsible Consumption and the Circular Economy Lab for the CBASS research centre of Substantiality and Entrepreneurship. Office hours are provided on Wednesdays from 11am to 1pm. Students can also email her to book an appointment at a mutually convenient time. This can be either on campus or via Microsoft TEAM upon mutual agreement.

Related Research Group(s)

people doing yoga

Health and Wellbeing Across the Lifecourse - Inequalities in health and wellbeing in the UK and internationally; welfare, health and wellbeing; ageing studies; health economics.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 12/10/2023