news release

Ageing UK: Experian reveals latest insights into the modern British pensioner

Retirees look to market towns and larger villages for a quiet but more cosmopolitan life
Vintage Value to Diamond Days: growing extremes in an increasingly divergent retired population

London, 28 May 2014 – As the ageing population rapidly increases in the UK, new and divergent groups of retirees are emerging, displaying a range of new traits such as wider internet adoption and changing property preferences, according to the latest analysis from Experian’s new Mosaic people classification. This trend will have a wide impact on a range of services, on the high street, the housing market, and local authority planning.

Research has highlighted the growth of two new groups of older people – Village Retirement and Diamond Days, who have grown apart from the two more classic groups of Senior Security and Vintage Value. Recent figures from the ONS have highlighted the growth in the older population of the UK, showing that one in six people (16.4 percent) in England and Wales was aged 65+ in 2011, with the number of over 90s growing from 340,000 in 2001 to 430,000 in 2011 – findings that emphasise the increasing diversity of elderly lifestyle and experience in the UK.

Rise of the Senior Market Town Retirees
Characterised mainly by the Mosaic Type Village Retirement,  Experian has identified a group of people dubbed “Smarties”:  traditionally couples and singles aged 65-plus, who have chosen to move to market towns for retirement. They now live in village locations, within thriving communities that are large enough to give them access to the local amenities they require for their everyday living and social needs. Characteristics of this group include:

  • Good health, higher pensions and savings, and more active than most pensioners of a similar age
  • Having been well-educated and enjoying long careers in higher managerial and professional positions, Village Retirement are comfortably-off with no outstanding mortgage and average household incomes of up to £29,000
  • High consumption of goods and services compared to their less-affluent peers
  • Prefer to shop in more upmarket supermarkets that prioritise provenance and quality over price
  • There are around 800,000 people within this this group living in the UK
  • Have downsized from family homes to spacious three or four bedroom properties
  • More likely to own a computer for internet access compared to other people of similar age

Top 10 towns for Village Retirement
Ageing UK table
Ageing UK map

“Smarties – made up largely of our group Village Retirement – are a distinct type that are part of a rising trend of better-off retirees who, instead of staying in the family home or moving to the coast as they might have done in the past, are downsizing, freeing up assets and starting new lives in attractive towns and small cities across the UK,” commented Nigel Wilson, Managing Director of Consumer Insights & Targeting at Experian Marketing Services, UK&I. ”These types have a distinct set of needs with regard to a wide range of issues – downsizing house size and shopping for different groceries, normally from higher end convenient supermarkets that use smaller ‘local’ stores, being two examples. Preferences held by these groups will shape the areas in which they settle, with the desire to downsize likely to impact younger groups moving up the property ladder, and shopping preferences shaping the local high street.”

Older, happier, more comfortable

The second new type identified by Experian is Diamond Days: retirees who have stepped down from high earning roles to enjoy a comfortable retirement in large, mortgage-free houses that were once home to their families. Other key features of this group include:

  • Affluent, older retired couples, no longer financially responsible for younger generations
  • High disposable income, desirable four or five bedroom homes, travel widely and clustered in the South East of England
  • A smaller group; there are around 520,000 people within this type in the UK
  • More likely to use a tablet compared to others of a similar age

Top 10 towns for Diamond Days
Ageing Uk table
Ageing UK map 

Decline of the ‘average’ British pensioner – a snapshot of elderly diversity
A further two types have grown out of larger groups identified by Experian that coincide more closely with previous views of the older population. Broadly, these groups are split between those who have retired with a reasonable nest egg and a pension to rely on, to those whose finances may be more strained:

Senior Security:

  • Senior Security are elderly singles and couples who are still living independently in comfortable homes that they own, and have often chosen to retire to the seaside
  • Considerable equity in property – many own their homes outright and have chosen to remain in family homes after the children have left
  • Top locations include: Bournemouth (Boscombe), Eastbourne, Hempstead Valley, Worthing and Bognor Regis

Vintage Value:

  • Elderly people who mostly live alone, either in social or private housing, often built with the elderly in mind
  • Levels of independence vary, but with health needs growing and incomes declining, many requiring an increasing amount of support
  • Top locations include: Sunderland, Chester-le-Street, Washington, Motherwell and Merthyr Tydfil

Nigel Wilson commented: “Our research has found that these emerging groups within the older age bracket have distinct tastes and needs in terms of housing and product preferences which stand apart from previously held generalisations regarding older groups within the United Kingdom. As the older population of this country increases it will become more important than ever before for organisations that want to reach this age bracket – be they retailers or local councils – to understand them and ensure that they are seen not as one identical group, but as a section of the population with a broad range of varied interests and lifestyles.” 
Experian unveiled a new version of Mosaic on 1st April 2014, which offers new and unparalleled insight into demographic shifts in the population of the United Kingdom. Modelled using the latest Census data, Mosaic offers insight into households, living patterns and the shape of our cities.

Matthew Tubbs
Ruder Finn for Experian Marketing Services

About Experian
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended 31 March 2014 was US$4.8 billion. Experian employs approximately 16,000 people in 39 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.

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About Experian Marketing Services
Experian Marketing Services is a global provider of integrated consumer insight, data quality and cross-channel marketing. We help organisations from around the world intelligently interact with today’s dynamic, empowered and hyper connected customers. By coordinating seamless interactions across all marketing channels, marketers are able to plan and execute superior brand experiences that deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.

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