"As a side product of the ERC project “Future Societies” an innovative combination of the genuinely demographic approach of Age-Period-Cohort (APC) analysis with a new expert-argument-based method of anticipating future period changes evolved that could have great commercial potential as a new quantitative science-based tool for forecasting future consumer preferences and demands for all kinds of goods and services at national and international scales. In marketing terminology, it has a potential for forecasting market potentials.
APC analysis has been used in demography to decompose the forces that drive changes in population composition with respect to critical characteristics of people: Age effects are patterns that change with age and affect all individuals (e.g. grey hair); cohort effects are patterns that change from one birth cohort to another or are acquired at young age and then persist (e.g. educational attainment). The extent of such age and cohort effects can be statistically estimated for the past and also projected into the future. In the ERC project a new way of soliciting expert knowledge based on the evaluation of alternative arguments has been developed that now can be used to produce science-based assumptions on future period effects.
This new combination of empirically estimated age and cohort effects with expert-assessed future period trends can potentially provide a powerful tool for social and economic forecasting in general and forecasting the market potential of certain goods and services in particular. Market research clearly shows that many consumer preferences follow succinct age and cohort effects. They also tend to follow certain “fashions” which can be dealt with as period effects. Since in marketing being “ahead of the trend” and detecting future shifts in customer preferences is a key element of commercial success, this approach has great potential as a new market forecasting tool that needs to enter its next stage of proof."
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