United Kingdom flag United Kingdom: Buying and Selling

Advertising and marketing in the United Kingdom

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
Like many Western countries, the United Kingdom has an aging population. The median age is 40.4 (ONS, 2020), compared to 39.5 in 2010. According to the latest World Bank data, people under 14 represent 18% of the population while people over 65 represent 19% of the total. The population growth rate is 0.4% (ONS, 2020). On average, there are 2.4 people per household. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of households remained stable compared to the previous year, reaching 27.8 million in 2020, an increase of 5.9% over the last 10 years. The number of people living alone has increased by 4% over the last 10 years, driven mainly by increases in men aged 45 to 64 years living alone. Regarding the ratio of men to women, women represent 50.6% of the total population (World Bank, 2020). Around 84% of the population lives in urban areas for 2020 (World Bank). London and its surroundings are high density areas, and there are other densely populated areas in the centre such as around Manchester and Liverpool, but also around Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as in southern Wales, around Cardiff, and east of Northern Ireland. The main cities are London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield. In the United Kingdom, 82% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 79%. This is slightly truer of women than men, as 83% of women have successfully completed high-school compared with 81% of men. In terms of employment, 75% of people aged 15 to 64 in the United Kingdom have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 86.6% of the active population is employed while 13% are entrepreneurs and self-employed (ONS, 2022). The sectors employing the most manpower are wholesale and retail sales (13.64%), health and social services (12.96%), scientific and technical occupations (9.17%), support and service (8.91%), education (8.46%), manufacturing (7.21%), hotels and restaurants (6.87%) and construction (6.31%) (ONS, 2021).
Purchasing Power
The GDP per capita PPP is approximately USD 46,483 (World Bank, 2020). People in the United Kingdom earn USD 47,147 per year on average, slightly less than the OECD average of USD 49,165. In the United Kingdom, the average household net adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 33,049 a year, higher than the OECD average of USD 30,490. UK households reduced their spending during the pandemic by an average of £109.10 (or 19%) a week, and around a third of workers saw their income fall in the financial year 2020/2021 (ONS). Many consumers have delayed purchases as a result of the crisis, adopting new habits to save money and becoming more mindful of how they spend. Income inequality, as measured using the Gini coefficient, has been broadly stable over the past ten years, the indicator reaching 34.4% in 2021 (Statista). The income of the richest 20% of people was over six times higher than the poorest 20% in 2020, and the gap further increased in 2021. According to the Office for National Statistics, the gender pay gap among all employees was 15.4% in 2021, up from 14.9% in 2020 (but down from 17.4% in 2019, before the pandemic). There was nonetheless a fall in the gender pay gap within the managers, directors and senior officials occupation group in 2021.
Consumer Behaviour
The United Kingdom is a mass consumer society, even though ecological and responsible consumption is growing. The main factors influencing purchase are price, quality, design, brand or environmental benefits. After-sales service should also be considered and claims are common. The British are increasingly buying online, thus online commerce is an important market. Regarding the choice of product origins, 6 British out of 10 say that UK origin is as important as price. Brand loyalty will often depend on price.

Virtually all adults aged 16 to 44 years in the UK were recent internet users (99%) in 2021. Social networks are also important in the purchase decision. The number of social media users is equivalent to 84.3% of the total population and Facebook is the main network (Data Reportal). Facebook and Instagram influence the choice of travel destinations. Influence is stronger for those under 24 and over 55. According to Deloitte research, the proportion of UK consumers very worried about the amount of personal data shared online, the usage and their rights halved in two years, from 47% in 2018 to 24% in 2020.

COVID-19 pandemic has affected consumer behavior: more than 60% of UK consumers have changed stores, brands or the way they shop; up to 50% consumers have decrease spending on most discretionary categories. More of the United Kingdom consumers are shifting to online purchases and services, and many intend to continue after COVID-19 subsides.

Ethical and environmental business practices are becoming increasingly important. Sales of organic products have increased in the last years. According to figures from Soil Association, organic product sales grew by 5.2% in 2021. Purchases of organic products are generally made in independent stores or delivered at home. Respect for the environment also encourages the circular economy and the second-hand market. According to Ibis World, the market size of the second-hand goods stores industry in the UK has declined 3.3% per year on average between 2017 and 2022, but is expected to increase 24% in 2022.
Consumers Associations
Citizens advice , Several causes including consumer protection
Which? , Consumer Association
Ambudsman Association , Consumer resolution
Main Advertising Agencies
Saatchi & Saatchi
Publicis Groupe SA
WPP Group plc

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Latest Update: July 2024