Category Archives: Demographic

What homes do the over-55’s buy?

The over-55s are an important and growing segment of the new-build housing market.  In their  report ‘Moving Insights from the Over-55’s‘, The NHBC Foundation looks at the reasons why the over-55’s move and the types of homes they buy.

The research is based on a sample of almost 1,500 homeowners aged over 55 who moved to their current new-build home between 2010 and 2016.

While equity release is a key motive for some, 46% of those surveyed invested more money in their home when making the move, and just under a third upsized to a home with more bedrooms. At the same time, hidden deeper in the evidence, is a strong demand for two-bedroom homes among those choosing to downsize.

Overall, a large proportion of households (40%) in this study moved either down or up to a four-bedroom home, making this the most common home size purchased by the over-55s.  The findings challenge the assumption that older home owners normally downsize to smaller properties, and instead highlight a diversity of moves: in terms of size (bedroom numbers) 39% of households downsized, many upsized (28%) and a third same-sized (33%).

While much of the evidence reveals a wide range of different motivations among the over-55s thinking of moving home, some key themes emerge with important implications for house builders. Older purchasers considering downsizing are about 20% more likely to choose a new-build home, and are particularly attracted by the prospect of living in a home which is easier to manage and enjoys lower maintenance and running costs, manageable gardens and a new home warranty – features which are high priorities for this age group.

Although new-build homes are particularly appealing to the over-55s, the report finds that they often feel that new build marketing is directed at families or young people and argues that more should be done to reflect the needs of older home buyers in this sector.  There is a strong antipathy among those aged 55 to 75 to being described as ‘old’ and there are important lessons to be learnt for marketing to this age group.

The NHBC Foundation was established in 2006 to provide high-quality research and practical guidance to support the house-building industry as it addresses the challenges of delivering 21st-century new homes.

Moving house over-55s

Download the full report here >>

Source:  The NHBC Foundation

Designing Homes for Multigenerational Living

Multigenerational living trend

Nearly 7% of UK households are multigenerational, the equivalent of 1.8 million households, and yet in the UK this concept is not well-understood and there has been little development of new home designs to suit the needs of families that would like to live in a multigenerational household.

Households are defined as multigenerational where there are three or more generations of the same family living together, or two generations of the same family living together, consisting of parents and one or more adult children (over the age of 25), or two generations of the same family living together consisting of one or more adult children (typically middle aged) and their elderly parent(s)

New research by The NHBC Foundation identifies a growing trend towards multigenerational living.  Their report, Multigenerational Living, An Opportunity for House Builders?,  analyses the scale and types of multigenerational households currently found in the UK and explores the experiences of British families living in this way.

Multigenerational living was also discussed with a range of house builders to understand their perspective on this market, in terms of their perception of both opportunity and risk.

The research provides evidence that challenges some myths about multigenerational living in the UK and suggests that it is not just ethnic minority families who choose to live in multigenerational households,  it is not just a response to care needs or housing affordability problems and it is not just about living in properties with annexes.

Key Findings

  • The number of multigenerational households in the UK has been increasing, driven by greater numbers of adult children (aged 25 or over) living in the parental home.
  • Four out of five multigenerational households in the UK are White British, although some ethnic groups (predominantly Asian families) are more likely than White British people to live in multigenerational households.
  • Multigenerational households tend not to be large and typically much smaller than often portrayed. Approximately one-quarter of households with grandparent(s) present contain three people, just over 20% contain four people and a similar proportion contain five people. Two-adult-generation households are generally smaller and are most likely to comprise just three people.  Average-sized homes with little or no modification may therefore provide satisfactory accommodation for many multigenerational households
  • Multigenerational households are most likely to live in three- or four-bedroom homes that they own, and the households, in general, are not living in poverty.
  • Multigenerational households predominantly live in ‘standard’ properties, and not all have annexes or extensions to accommodate household members separately

Requirements for Multigenerational Living

The research showed that, in terms of the design and use of space in the home, privacy is important but so is the ability to flexibly use any ‘additional’ space.  The best model included some shared spaces, open-plan dining and
an element of private space. For example, there needs to be space for interaction, such as family meals, but some privacy, such as separate rooms to entertain guests or watch television.

A limited number of bathrooms can cause tensions if everyone needs to be ready at the same time of day, so en-suites or multiple bathrooms were welcomed.

The flexibility to adapt properties over time to suit different family arrangements was welcomed. Such future-proofing might, for example, enable easy adaptation of a downstairs room (with access to a WC) into a bedroom.

Adaping New-Build House Designs for Multigenerational Households

A design review by The NHBC Foundation identified various existing common new-build house designs that are suitable for multigenerational households, or which could easily be adapted to be so.

  1. Suitable without change
    These are typically designs in which one or two bedrooms and a bathroom form a relatively separate suite of rooms on its own floor (typically the top floor of a three-storey house). These house types offer the possibility of immediate use of this suite of rooms, either by an elderly relative or by adult children, without any alteration or conversion of the existing plan.
  2. Adjustment of existing plan layout
    The second type of newbuild design identified by the review comprises houses in which the original plan offers a particularly large double bedroom, usually with an ensuite bathroom, often located above a double garage or a ground floor wing. In these cases the layout can often be changed to provide a self-contained space with a living room, double bedroom and ensuite bathroom, plus the option of a kitchenette.
  3. Opportunity to extend
    These are houses which offer the opportunity to provide a separate self-contained extension to the original house. Such homes might be marketed either with planning consent and designed to comply with Building Regulations, leaving the purchaser to engage a contactor to carry out the work, or as an ‘off plan’ option in which the house builder would complete the extension as part of the main work.
  4. Ground-floor alteration
    Where the existing ground-floor plan has a large bedroom or family room, this may be suitable for conversion into a self-contained living area with its own entrance.

NHBC Foundation Multigenerational Living

The full report from The NHBC Foundation can be downloaded here >>

Source:  The NHBC Foundation “Multigenerational Living, An Opportunity for UK house builders” Report


The Changing Shape of the UK Population

Lower birth rates and higher life expectancy is transforming the shape of the UK population, with the proportion of those of a working age shrinking whilst those of a pensionable age is increasing. 

Here we highlight how the UK population has changed, what has caused it to change and how it is projected to change in the future.

The largest ever UK population

In 2016 the population of the UK reached it’s largest ever, at 65.6 million.  This is a rise of 538,000 on 2015 and equivalent to a city the size of Bradford.  In fact the rate of the population growth has increased so significantly over the past 11 years that it has grown by over five million, when previously it took 35 years from 1970 to 2005 to make the same leap.

The UK population is projected to continue growing, reaching over 74 million by 2039

UK Population Size and Estimate

The chart shows the relatively high population growth during the ‘baby boom’ of the 1960’s, followed by slower growth in the 1970’s.  The population began to grow again in the late 1980’s when the 1960s ‘baby boomers’ were having children, echoing earlier growth.

More recent uplifts in population growth have generally coincided with an increase in the number of countries holding EU membership.

Natural Changes to the UK Population

Natural change is the difference between births and deaths. Over the past 60 years the number of births in the UK has been greater than the number of deaths, accounting for 35.8% of the population growth.

After the baby boom in the 1960s and the “echo” of baby boomers having children, births in the UK began to stabilise and have generally been between 700,000 and 800,000 since the mid 1970s.   The most recent peak was in 2012 when births reached 813,000, the highest since 1990.

UK Population Natural Change

The long-term trend in the number of deaths is more stable than the number of births, peaking in 1976 at 681,000 (the only year since 1955  when deaths outnumbered births) before steadily declining until 2011.

This decline is because people are living longer. More recently deaths began to slightly rise again, until 2016 when deaths decreased to 597,000.

The affect of net migration

The main driver of the growing UK population, particularly since the 1990s, is net migration, which accounts for 62.4% of the population growth.

Defined as the number of immigrants (people moving to the UK for more than 12 months) minus the number of emigrants (people leaving the UK for more than 12 months), the direct effect of net migration has increased the population by more than 251,000 people on average per year from 2004 to 2016.

This equates to an average of 52,000 more people per year than natural change for the same period .

In addition to this direct effect of migration on the size of the population, current and past international migration also has indirect effects on the size of the population as it changes the numbers of births and deaths in the UK.

UK Net Migration

Immigration has been higher than emigration since the early 1990s.  Rises in immigration have tended to coincide with the expansion of the EU, allowing more people to freely migrate to the UK.

In 2015, levels of immigration (631,000) were more than double those of emigration (298,000).  The highest immigration levels to date were seen in 2014 with 632,000 people coming to the UK.

Immigration has fallen with provisional data for the year ending 2016 (which included 6 months of data following the EU referendum) showing immigration dropped to 588,000, while emigration increased to 339,000.

Migrants tend to be aged 20 to 36 years, an age when people are likely to be working.

The UK population is getting older

As the population is growing, improvements in healthcare and lifestyles mean the population is getting older, with 18% aged 65 and over and 2.4% aged 85 and over.

The old age dependency ratio (OADR) has been increasing since 1996 and is projected to keep rising. This ratio is the number of people over 65 years old for every 1,000 people aged between 16 and 64 years old, and is a useful measure to understand how the balance in the population will change, particularly when planning for the needs of the different age groups.   In mid-2016 the UK’s OADR was 285.

The table below from the Office of National Statistics shows how the population is changing for different age groups; children (aged 0 to 15 years), people who are most likely to be working (aged 16 to 64 years) and people most likely to be retired (aged 65 and over).

 0 to 15 years (%) 16 to 64 years (%) Aged 65 and over (%) UK population
1976 24.5 61.2 14.2            56,216,121
1986 20.5 64.1 15.4            56,683,835
1996 20.7 63.5 15.9            58,164,374
2006 19.2 64.9 15.9            60,827,067
2016 18.9 63.1 18.0            65,648,054
2026 18.8 60.7 20.5            69,843,515
2036 18.0 58.2 23.9            73,360,907
2046 17.7 57.7 24.7            76,342,235


Life expectancy over the last few decades has been steadily increasing. Females born in 2015 can expect to live 82.8 years from birth, 4 years more than females born in 1991.  Males have seen a greater increase in life expectancy of 5.7 years, from 73.4 years for males born in 1991 to 79.1 years for males born in 2015.

The increase in life expectancy in the UK is projected to continue, with life expectancy at birth for females projected to be 85.1 years by 2026 and 86.6 years by 2036. Males are also projected to live longer, increasing to 82.1 years by 2026 and 83.7 years by 2036.

The structure of the UK population in 2016

There are a larger number of 69 year olds due to the spike in births after the end of World War 2, but the rapid increases in numbers of those aged 65 and over seen between 2009 and 2015 may be temporarily slowing as relatively smaller cohorts reach age 65

There are a larger number of people in their mid-40s to mid-50s due the effects of the 1960s baby boom and the children of the baby boomers can be seen in the higher number of people in their 20s.

The low fertility in the 1970s and early 2000s can be seen in lower populations of people in their late 30s and early teens

The group aged 20 to 37 years in 2016 has increased in size when compared with 2006, when they were aged 10 to 27 years; this change is thought to have been generated by the increased population through international immigration

The population by age was broadly similar for males and females in both 2006 and 2016. However at older ages women outnumber men and this is particularly evident in those aged 80 and over.


Source:  Office of National Statistics

The Structure of Families and Households in the UK

uk family structure

The structure of our family or household is one of foundations on which we decide how we live in our homes and the type of products we will buy for our homes

Here we highlight 6 key facts about UK family and household structures, courtesy of the Office of National Statistics:-

#1. Married or civil partner couple families are the most common family type

Of the 18.9 million families in the UK, the most common type of family is married or civil partner couple families, of which there are 12.7 million.  And married or civil partner couples without dependent children are more common than those with dependent children, at 7.9 million and 4.8 million respectively

Families by family type ONS

The second largest family type is the cohabiting couple family at 3.3 million, which is the fastest growing family type and has doubled over the past 20 years.

Opposite sex married couple families account for 79.1% of all couple families. Opposite sex cohabiting couple families were the next largest type of couple family at 19.8%.  Same sex couple families (including civil partner, same sex married and same sex cohabiting couple families) accounted for 1% of all couple families.

#2. Lone parent families have grown significantly

Since 1996, lone parent families have grown by 18.6%, a statistically significant increase; in comparison married couple families have grown very little (0.3%).

Of the 2.9 million lone parent families in the UK in 2016, the majority (86%) were headed by a female lone parent.  This percentage has changed little over the past 20 years as women continue to be more likely to take the main caring responsibilities for any children when a relationship breaks down and therefore become lone parents.

#3. More young adults are living with their parents

In 1996 around 5.8 million 15 to 34 year olds in the UK lived with their parents, this increased to a peak of 6.7 million in 2014 and remained around 6.5 million in 2016.

Although the total population aged 15 to 34 in the UK has increased over the past 20 years, the percentage living with their parents has risen from 36% in 1996 to 39% in 2016.

Young adults living with their parents

A large percentage of 15 to 19 year olds would be expected to be living with their parents and the number of young adults living with their parents has shown to decrease with age.   Looking at 20 to 34 year olds, the number living with their parents has increased from 2.7 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2013 and has since remained at 3.3 million. The percentage living with their parents has risen from 21% in 1996 to 25% in 2016.Young males are more likely than young females to be living with their parents. Around 44% of males aged 15 to 34 are living with their parents and 31% of males aged 20 to 34 are living with their parents.   This is compared with 34% of females aged 15 to 34 and only 20% of females aged 20 to 34.

Larger numbers of young adults tending to stay at home for longer may be explained by them staying in education and training for longer, delaying leaving the parental home as they formalise relationships and have children at older ages and also as it has become more expensive to rent or buy a home.


#4. Average UK household size is 2.4 people

There are 27.1 million households in the UK and this number has increased by 7% since 2006, in line with the growth of the UK population during this period. As a result, the average household size has remained at 2.4 people over the decade.

Around 28% of households contained one person. Although this has not changed much over the last decade, compare this to 1971 when only 17% of households in Great Britain contained one person, it would suggest that the proportion of one-person households has increased considerably since the early 1970s.

Households were most likely to contain 2 people (35%) while 16% of households contained 3 people and 21% of households contained 4 or more people.

#5. Multi-Family Households are the fastest growing family type

Households containing 2 or more families have increased by 66% from 194,000 households in 2006 to 323,000 households in 2016.

Multi-family households cover many different situations; the families may be completely unrelated, or they may be multigenerational and related in some way, for example, a married couple with their son and his girlfriend, older couples moving in with their adult child and their family, young adults who are partnered or lone parents, remaining or returning to their parent’s household.

The increase in multi-family households is considered to be statistically significant, yet despite this rise, which was also seen using the 2011 Census results, multi-family households still only represented a very small proportion (1.2%) of all households in 2016.

#6. More women than men live alone

Of the 7.7 million one-person households in the UK, overall 54.2% of them contain one woman and 45.8% of them contain one man.

However, when considering the ages of 16 to 64, the majority (57.8%) living alone are male. This pattern is reversed for those ages 65 to 74 and 75 and over, where 62% and 71.8% respectively are female.

The disparity in the younger age group could be explained by the higher proportions of men than women who never marry, men marry at older ages than women and marry women younger than themselves, and partnership dissolution leading to men living alone while women are more likely to live with any children from the relationship.

In the older age groups, the higher percentage of women living along is partly because there are more women than men in the total population aged 65 and over due to women’s higher life expectancy.  By the age of 65 most women have been married and husbands are typically older than their wives. These 2 factors accentuate the gap in life expectancy between husbands and wives and mean that more women than men become widowed, which may lead to living alone.

However, it should be noted that the number of widowed women is falling due to life expectancy increasing faster for men compared with women.


What you should know:-

  • family is a married, civil partnered or cohabiting couple with or without children, or a lone parent, with at least one child, who live at the same address. Children may be dependent or non-dependent.
  • household is one person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room, sitting room or dining area. A household can consist of more than one family, or no families in the case of a group of unrelated people.
  • Dependent children are those aged under 16 living with at least one parent, or aged 16 to 18 in full-time education, excluding all children who have a spouse, partner or child living in the household
  • The term “Parent” could include grandparents, step-parents or foster parents
  • Once a person either lives with a partner or has a child, they are considered to have formed their own family and are no longer counted as being part of their parents’ family even if they still live in the same household.


The Changing Consumer podcast from the KBB Conference

Changing Consumer podcast

At the kbbreview Retail and Design Conference 2016 Trend-Monitor’s Research Director, Jane Blakeborough, took part in a panel discussion about the Changing Consumer.

A podcast of this discussion is now available.

Alongside Graham Jones, Sales and Marketing Director of Mereway Kitchens,  and Tina Riley, Managing Director of retailer Modern Homes, Jane identified some key consumer trends which are influencing the way consumers purchase new bathrooms, discussing research prior to purchase, individualism, bargain hunting, environmental issues and much more.

Click on the image below to listen to this session via Youtube or follow this link


Note:  J M Blake Associates is now part of Trend-Monitor Ltd


Kitchen Purchase Behaviour, Consumer Insight Report 2016

This consumer insight report looks at the motivating factors behind the decision to purchase a new kitchen, investigating multi-family households, the ageing demographic, flexible working conditions, the space available, even the TV programmes we watch, to understand how these influence the way in which we use our kitchen space.

This research takes a step back and starts from before the actual purchase process in order to explore the way UK homeowners use their kitchens; how they cook, shop for groceries, socialise and relax. It investigates how family circumstances and household demographics, multi-functional space issues and emerging smart technologies can impact on how kitchens are planned and which products are purchased.

The results of this research have enabled us to produce 6 different kitchen consumer profiles, which will aid manufacturers and retailers of kitchen products in identifying their target market and creating a structured approach to product development and marketing communications.

The report gives a fascinating insight into people’s diverse requirements for their individual kitchens and highlight a number of opportunities for innovation and growth for kitchen product brands.

Key Findings

  • Spending is back on the agenda with homeowners showing a willingness to invest in a new kitchen because they are not prepared to wait any longer for a new one
  • Luxury goes mainstream as what were previously considered high-ticket appliances rise steeply in popularity
  • Kitchens are not as social as we would like with homeowners complaining that their new kitchens don’t provide enough space to entertain.
  • Lack of space continues to be the main issue with new kitchens and although there many be opportunities to add an extension or create an open plan space, making the best use of storage and work surfaces is more important for many new kitchens
  • Although the smart kitchen is a trend that has grown significantly over the past 3 years, many homeowners are still failing to understand how the technology will work in their own homes.


kitchen consumer trends



The 2018 edition of this report will be published in July 2018

Also published in June 2018 – Kitchen Behaviours and Product Usage 2018

If you are a Kitchen Category Insight Partner, these reports will automatically be added to your account

The Pet Pound

When planning a new kitchen, 12% of homeowners take their dog into consideration.  This is probably our favourite fact coming out of our recent research into kitchen purchase behaviour.

The humanising of pets, and in particular dogs, is a fast growing trend in the UK and research by Mintel has revealed some interesting statistics which show that humanising pets is a key theme running through the pet care industry, with consumers making adjustments to their daily lives to accommodate pets as part of their families. For example

  • 21% of pet owners either have used or would be interested in trying restaurants with special pet menus.
  • On average, British pet owners spend £34 on pet food and treats monthly. Thus expenditure on pet food could run at £405 a year.
  • The demand for travelling with pets is high; almost four in 10 pet owners feel guilty leaving their pet behind when they go on holiday.
  • A third of owners buy their pets a Christmas present.
  • Over a quarter of pet owners admit they like to pamper their pets and women in particular find it hard to pass by a new toy or a treat even if they did not plan on buying it (46%)
  • Half of people who own dogs or cats are interested in monitoring their pets while they are out with half of pet owners aged 16-34 interested in pet TV to amuse pets.
  • 7% of pet owners have bought clothing for their pets in the past 12 months.
  • Companionship (57%) is the biggest reason for getting a pet, and this rises further to 69% amongst people living on their own.

Source: Mintel

According to the Telegraph, Britains now spend approximately £450m each year taking their pets on holiday. A third of owners now holiday with their pet and spend an additional £126 on average to keep their pet by their side when they travel. This trend has led to the proliferation of pet-friendly hotels and holiday cottages, and companies such as budget airline, Ryanair, to announce that they are looking into allowing pets to travel in the passenger cabin.

Euromonitor claims the opportunities to capitalise on the humanisation of pets are vast and has identified three different types of cash-splashing pet owners:-

  • Mainsteam humanisers who account for about two thirds of pet owners, opt for reliable premium brands “that convey an indulgent feel”.
  • Anti-humanisers, who choose smaller, ethical brands over large corporations and are most likely to put their pets on wild, raw or organic diet, account for 20-30 percent of pet owners
  • Extreme humanisers, who make up roughly 5pc of pet owners, tend to be high-spending urban-dwellers who value status, fashion and exclusivity and see their pet as a personal accessory or a substitute for a child. This group are most likely to buy their pets designer outfits, crystal encrusted drinking bowls, exercise activities and extreme grooming treatments

With the dog population in the UK reaching 8.5  million and 24% of households owning at least one dog (Source PFMA), articles are being featured in many of the top interior design magazines such as Elle Decoration  showing readers how to do ‘pet-friendly and stylish at home’.

Changes in social behaviours are just some of the reasons behind this key trend. People are living in increasingly ‘dehumanized’ societies, there are more single person households than ever before, and owning a pet is a way of staving off the loneliness this creates.  Also, couples are delaying marriage and their first child,  and often chose pets to display their love and affection.

The USA has historically been the model which has led the trends in the UK pet care market and whilst the more conservative UK market may currently be outraged at the extent to which the US humanises their pets, it is a strong indication where the future lies for pets in the UK and the UK consumer will continue to spend more and more money on their pets.


Meet our Kitchen Consumers

Meet Traditional, Experimental, International, Healthy, Family-Parent and Sociable; our six kitchen consumer profiles.  

From the Traditional kitchen consumer who likes to keep to a small range of recipes they know they can cook well, to the Experimental kitchen consumer who buys all the latest kitchen gadgets, these profiles highlight the diverse needs of UK homeowners in terms of their kitchen requirements.


kitchen consumer profiles

Created from the data collected during our latest kitchen consumer research, these 6 profiles are designed as an aid to identifying target markets and structuring product development and marketing communications.

Information regarding gender, age, family circumstances, cooking style, kitchen design, how they shop for groceries, and use their kitchen to socialise and relax is all distilled into 6 insightful infographics which give a fascinating insight into kitchen usage in the UK.

Family-parent kitchen consumer profile


Meet all our kitchen consumer profiles in our latest report – click here for more information




Cohousing is set to become mainstream

OWCH Group cohousing project

The first cohousing scheme for older women gets ready to open its doors to residents in Barnet, north London later this year, with several more cohousing projects following close behind.

Hailed as being the answer to the loneliness associated with an ageing population, cohousing schemes offer older people the chance to live independently within a shared community. Members live together in a custom-built housing development, each having their own self-contained apartment and front door, but with the opportunity to share communal facilities, eat together regularly and generally be ‘neighbourly’ to each other.

OWCH cohousing project

Most importantly, unlike standard sheltered housing, cohousing developments are designed by the community itself, with residents being chosen to take part in the community and expected to share the responsibility of the ongoing management of the development.

These kind of schemes have been a popular option in parts of mainland Europe since the 1970’s, and there are 200 senior cohousing schemes set up in the Netherlands alone, according to the UK Cohousing Network.  However, the model has struggled to transfer to Britain, with issues such as sky-high land prices, councils not understanding the cohousing model, or priority being given to younger age groups being cited as stumbling blocks, along with added problem of finding a suitable developer or housing association partner.

The OWCH Group

The organisation behind the pioneering development in Barnet is the OWCH Group,  which consists of 20 or so women aged between mid-fifty and around eighty.  Although the members of the group come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, with a range of different health issues and/or disabilities, some retired and some still working, they share a determination to stay as self-dependent and active as they can as they get older.   They felt this would be best achieved as part of a group that would look after each other.

OWCH cohousing project

The OWCH stands for Older Women Co-Housing and although this particular group is women only and based on the fact that it tends to be women who live alone most in old age, they see themselves as the pioneers of a model that would suit both men and women as they reach a certain age.

Government-Led Support

With OWCH Group and similar schemes taking 10 years and upwards to come to fruition, there have been calls from within the building industry, as well as from organisations such as Age Concern, for a national strategy led by government that looks constructively at the needs of older people.

A new report written by the Smith Institute think tank and based on extensive interviews, has set out how cohousing can ‘move from the margins to the mainstream’ to make high quality, sustainable and affordable developments the norm.

The measures suggested include the reinstatement of the Empty Homes Community Grants Programme, which was scrapped last year, and more support and partnership working with local authorities and housing associations.

Source: The OWCH Group