“Unparalleled seismic demographic shifts now underway” in UK

Consumer demand


Euro consumers2What happens to demand when women stop having lots of babies, and the general population starts living very much longer?

Common sense would suggest economic growth would go through 2 quite remarkable changes:

  • Phase 1.  Growth would accelerate, as the population became concentrated in the wealth creating 25 – 54 age group, and the need to spend money on dependent children reduced
  • Growth would then move into SuperCycle mode as large numbers of women became able to re-enter the workforce after childbirth, and could demand major increases in their earnings relative to men
  • Phase 2.  Growth would steadily slow, as the number of wealth creators would begin to steadily reduce, with more and more men and women joining the New Old 55+ group
  • This Phase would also see massive change in demand patterns, as the New Old represent a replacement economy.  They bought most of their major items (housing, cars, furniture etc) when younger, and their incomes reduce as they enter retirement

Of course, this is not just a theoretical exercise.  It is instead, as we describe in Boom, Gloom and the New Normal, exactly today’s situation.  And the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 is well underway, having begun in 2001 when the first BabyBoomers (born globally between 1946 – 1970) entered the New Old generation.  The Boomers are the largest generation in history, and the average Boomer (born 1958) joined the New Old last year.

Small wonder therefore that a new report from the UK’s leading consumer credit agency, Experian, suggests “The UK is undergoing unparalleled seismic demographic shifts”.  And, of course, this scenario is not just confined to the UK.  All Western nations, and many of the main emerging countries, are experiencing the same seismic shifts.  This is truly a global earthquake: profound and long-lasting changes are inevitable as it takes place.

Another sign of these changes comes from EuroMonitor consumer research, captured in the chart above.  As they discovered, consumers no longer define themselves by the size of their car, house or kitchen:

  • Instead, their focus is value for money, less complex lifestyles
  • They value family and friends, and small moments of indulgence
  • Trust and carbon footprint are important to them
  • And they want less hassle and more convenience in their daily lives

Change is always difficult within a corporate structure.  But all the evidence suggests that companies who fail to reposition themselves for this New Normal are at risk of being swept away by the earthquake now underway.


Oil prices vulnerable to China property market fall


Oil futures markets are a wonderful thing, in theory.  They are supposed to ena...

Learn more

US chemicals slip back into Contraction mode as cycle peaks


The above chart from the excellent American Chemistry Council (ACC) weekly repor...

Learn more
More posts
If you don’t want to know the future, look away now

Next week, I will publish my annual Budget Outlook, covering the 2021-2023 period. It will highlight...

The Top 5 pandemic paradigm shifts

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the fundamental changes which were already underway in global ...

Hertz goes bankrupt as non-essential consumer demand disappears

The US Federal Reserve has now spent $7tn bailing out Wall Street. But it couldn’t save the 10...

Smartphone sales head into decline as affordability becomes key

The smartphone sales decline accelerated in Q1, as Strategy Analytics report: “Global smartpho...

China’s plastic ban and recycling launch marks end of ‘business as usual’ for plastics industry

Paradigm shifts start slowly at first, and it is easy to miss them. But then one day, they suddenly ...

Automakers face stiff headwinds in big emerging markets

Brazil, Russia, India and China disappoint as manufacturers face investment demands of EVs © Bloomb...

Portugal shows the way to climate neutrality by 2050

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do”. The Irish proverb’...

The next billion phone users will be buying $10 smart feature phones, not $1000 iPhones

Smartphone sales plateaued in Q3, down 9% since Q3 2017’s peak of 1.55bn, as the chart shows....


Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more


Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more