May
09
2014

The changing face of the UK consumer part 1: Boomerang Kids

The United Kingdom is undergoing some seismic demographic shifts, as witnessed by new insights from our recently launched new version of the Mosaic people classification.  An analysis of UK society using Mosaic has revealed that populations in urban centres are once more on the rise, the commuter belt is getting wider and more of Britain’s younger population are ‘boomeranging’ back to the family home – pushed out of independent living by high rents and unaffordable house prices.

These groups, while perhaps not new, now represent significant audiences with distinct attitudes and behaviours that influence how they interact and spend with brands. The importance for marketers to understand the nuances between the different target groups has never been higher, and the onus is on them to ensure that they can tailor their messages specifically to their appropriate audience.

The first trend identified by new Mosaic that I would like to look at is the growing number of Boomerang Kids – adult children that are living in the parental home past their early twenties and into their thirties.

The changing role of the family

Since 2001 around half a million more young adults, a rise of 21% to almost 3m, have joined the group. Perhaps most surprising is that females have shown the sharpest rise increasing by 27%, although they still make up less than 40% of the total.

Factors such as rising rental prices and lack of affordable housing in the most densely populated areas all contribute to this trend – but this only tells part of the story. Lots of other factors impact the size and shape of this type of household.

Bank of Mum and Dad
Take for example Mosaic type B08 Bank of Mum and Dad; this family are living in comfort with the mortgage nearly paid down and plenty of equity in their house. It is likely however that they will need to support their children financially to help them either get on the property ladder or afford rent. You can expect these to be releasing equity in the not too distant future, either from their own home or from their investments perhaps impacting spend on luxury items for themselves.

Boomerang Boarders
Compare them to type F22 Boomerang Boarders.  Highly representative of the squeezed middle, impacted by inflation and a lack of salary increases, they are happy to support their kids but are unlikely to be able to offer them significant financial assistance.

Diversity within the ‘adult children living at home’ group
With these two groups alone, we see that some of the broad brushstrokes tactics marketers use to target “adult children living at home” aren’t applicable any more. When we look at the demographic make-up of these households, we can see that there is diversity in the group, and the challenges this offers to marketers vary, depending on whom in the family they want to connect with. Targeting a multi-generational household, regardless of financial situation is complicated but offers endless possibilities if brands learn how to treat everyone in a way that best fits their needs.

Highly personalised cross-channel engagement
It is very important within these target groups that highly personalised cross-channel engagement is employed. In many cases, there is no single primary decision maker in the home, purchase decisions are likely to be shared and influenced by multiple family members. Marketers need to carefully craft their communications when an older parent and young adult or other children are sharing the same living space to engage the right person and influence their purchase decisions.

It’s definitely worth the effort though. US research from Mintel* into this topic states that multi-generational parents and home owners can spend up to a third more than parents whose off-spring have fled the nest but feel less included in advertising.  Reaching these customers with the right message on the right channel not only holds great untapped potential for brands but also ensures that their customers are happy to receive communications that are relevant, and by a means that they welcome.

* http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/social-and-lifestyle/non-traditional-parents

Find out more about our Mosaic cross-channel consumer classification

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