Rural Vogues: busy lives and poor access to local shops means heavy use of online shopping
Rural Vogues: busy lives and poor access to local shops means heavy use of online shopping
A view from Nigel Wilson

Mobile and the 'Rurban' generation: The changing face of the UK consumer

A decade of societal change means it's more important than ever for brands to understand their customers, writes Nigel Wilson, managing director, consumer insights and targeting, Experian Marketing Services.

The United Kingdom is undergoing some seismic demographic shifts.  An analysis of UK society over the past ten years using Experian’s Mosaic people classification has revealed that populations in urban centres are once more on the rise, the commuter belt is getting wider and more than ever, technology is significantly impacting key groups of society.

These trends, while perhaps not new, now represent significant audiences with distinct attitudes and behaviours that influence how they interact and spend with brands.

Social Migration – the "Rurban" Generation

Meet Declan and Beth.

Eight years ago Declan and Beth were living the suburban life in a comfortable semi in the outskirts of one of the UK’s bigger cities.

Then along came their daughter Megan, and priorities began to change; the family makes the big move to a home for life in a more rural location that still enables them to have access to work and amenities.

Declan and Beth are amongst 490,000 people in Mosaic group Rural Vogue; attracted to the "Rurban" lifestyle which gives a mix of the country idyll and access to cities for work and leisure. Although often based firmly outside of the confines of the city this group maintains a strong relationship with urban life, leading to distinct spending behaviour and shopping patterns - something a brand really needs to understand if they are to continue to engage the likes of Declan and Beth.

Let’s take retail as a prime example - busy lives and poor access to local shops mean Rural Vogues are heavy users of online shopping for groceries and other consumer goods. Cross-channel marketing, combined with traditional media such as direct mail, is just one way of encouraging them to act on impulse and be moved to buy.

Technology and marketing

Mobile devices have also contributed to the tectonic shift in consumer interactions with brands – not only has connectivity shrunk distances between people, but between decisions, actions and events. The reality is that since the smartphone and mobile internet was introduced we have fundamentally changed our behaviour. From brick to click, and now click in brick we are an on demand nation, 24/7 52 weeks a year.

From brick to click, and now click in brick we are an on demand nation, 24/7 52 weeks a year.

Take for example Mosaic group Student Scene, with smartphone adoption at 96% around 60% use their phones  to compare prices whilst in store to make sure they get the best deal. In terms of attitudes to new technology Asian Heritage are likely to be leading the way in adoption, most likely driven by the young adults and teens in the household.

The importance of understanding device and their link to an individual becomes an increasingly important challenge for brands to overcome to ensure they can consistently engage and market to their customers. Nowhere has the effect of this new technology been more explosive than in the Leisure space. The development of in-play apps has led to a sea-change in how people interact with gaming companies whilst at sporting events. This "Ray Winston" effect has been brought about through new technologies that are emerging all the time.

Endless possibilities

The significant and wide-ranging changes to the social fabric of the UK, driven by the changing macro-economic climate and the enabling impact of technology have changed the landscape of UK society beyond recognition. The patchwork of different groups and types presents a great opportunity for marketers – with these new levels of insight, brands now have the ability to identify trends within their consumer base they would not otherwise have been aware of, and gives them the intelligence needed to ensure that consumer are reached with the right message at the right time – every time.