At our June Breakfast Briefing we were looking at the UK’s demographic trends. As always, we started off with a question and the one we posed to our audience was ‘what age do you consider to be old’? The age we consider as old is always interesting – and inevitably the figure gets higher the older we get! Answers from among our guests (I’d guess the age range to be from early 20s to late 70s) ranged from mid 40s to mid 80s.

The age that we think of as ‘old’ is in all likelihood influenced not only by the age you are but also the ages of people that you regularly see and interact with. If you are in your 20s and live and work alongside a group of people from different age groups, the way you perceive them might be far more positive (or younger) than if you spend all your time in and among your own age group. Knowing a spritely, independent, gym bunny in their 80s will have the same positive effect on someone in their 60s.

One of our favourite graphics is the one below showing how the UK population profile is equalling out or reaching what’s termed ‘generational equipoise’.  No longer are there one or two age groups that dominate in the population. Soon we will have four very large similarly sized generational groups all coexisting alongside each other.

This has all sorts of implications. For example, you don’t have a large young (and hopefully economically active tax paying) population able to support a smaller older economically inactive population.

In a few years in the UK we’ll have around the same numbers of cash strapped, squeezed middle, middle aged Millennials (born in the 1980s and who came of age at the start of the new millennium) as retiring Baby Boomers (now in their mid 50s to early 70s) sitting in their vastly overpriced owner-occupied assets drawing their cushy final salary scheme pensions (allegedly).

The implications aren’t just for the health and social sectors (already bracing themselves for the impact of more people living for longer).  There are important consumer implications – with four large consumer cohorts of equal size constituting over 80% of the population, unless you have a niche product or service, you can’t continue to target just one, which for much mainstream marketing has been the young. But the tide may already be on the turn. I saw an ad on prime time TV this week for the Mercedes GLC and it featured middle aged people. And to my surprise and delight a middle-aged woman driving a car. Has the population demographic penny already dropped in ad land?

These issues and more were discussed at our Trends Breakfast in London on July 28th 2018. To access the presentation from that event, click here.