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Census trends: the latest insight into the population

By Marie Myles | Director of Analytics and Consulting

June 12, 2013 | 5 min read

Guest post by Danny Thompson, Head of Product Marketing, Data and Analytics,Experian Marketing Services

As part of our work rebuilding our Mosaic consumer segmentation for 2014, we’ve been going through the recently released tranche of 2011 Census data to identify interesting demographic trends. This data allows us to look more closely at the entire UK population and when combined with our Mosaic insight will prove invaluable to brands and marketers wanting to reach and engage specific audiences.

Here are four interesting trends we’ve uncovered recently:


Overall, as some people have been able to choose where they live and work and others have not, we have seen that the big cities are becoming very different to smaller places. The core of London and the South East is growing away from the rest of the country – this can be seen in terms of age, income, qualifications, jobs (or the lack of them), ethnic mix and sexual preference.

There is a striking difference in age between the much younger big cities – London, Birmingham and Manchester – while other areas, particularly rural and coastal localities are getting much older.

Indeed, it appears that a young and diverse core is now driving our economy – with Non-White Britain heavily concentrated in London, Birmingham and parts of the North West of England and contributing to continued economic growth of the major population centres.


It’s no secret that we have an ageing population, but it might surprise some to discover that there has been a significant growth in the population aged over 90 – with much of this group concentrated in the retirement heartlands of the South Coast of England, North Wales, Blackpool and coastal Norfolk.

Far from being rare, these elderly individuals now exist in large and growing numbers with long-term implications for the cost of pensions and healthcare. An additional trend is that the broad group of people with long-term health problems is split between the retirement hotspots and the more deprived regions of Wales, the North East and North West England, putting further pressure on the provision of services in these areas.


Interestingly, the places with the highest proportions of professional workers and managers almost exactly reflect the pattern of those with degrees and higher educational qualifications. The highest concentrations are in Southeast England, especially Surrey, and in pockets in the north in Harrogate, South Manchester and Stratford upon Avon.

By contrast we can see the locations with the highest numbers of those who have never worked in Northeast and Northwest England, Bradford, Rotherham, Manchester, Liverpool, Merthyr Tydfil and parts of East and North London. These same areas show the lowest levels of educational qualifications.


For the first time, we can see the geographic patterns of same sex civil partnerships and use this data to identify locations with gay populations. As you might expect, cosmopolitan areas such as Central London, Brighton, Manchester as well as Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire have high concentrations of same sex civil partners – but there are also thriving gay communities in other south coast resorts, along with Cardiff Bay, Central Sheffield and Blackpool which may be surprising. So those trying to target the pink pound may need to target areas further afield to reach their audience.


These are just a handful of useful insights that can be drawn from examining the latest Census data – which will become relevant as it is combined with Experian’s own data and insights in the development of Mosaic. For brands and marketers it’s fascinating to look in detail at how the UK population and society as a whole is changing and consider how this data can help them to understand their customers and how different marketing strategies can be applied in diverse locations. It is this level of detail that will inform the most targeted and engaging campaigns and make brands stand out from the crowd.

Danny Thompson is hosting two Mosaic events in July, click for further information.


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