Nick Mawditt, global director of insight and marketing at Kinetic, takes a look at some new research carried out by the outdoor specialist...
Despite our ageing population and increasing economic uncertainty, people in the UK are spending more of their time Out of Home and engaging in the activities and lifestyle of the Moving World. As the landscape and environment of our towns change, consumers are experiencing improvements in the range and quality of retail, leisure destinations and environments designed to suit their lifestyles. Our society has never been as mobile (workers are now at their desks for less than 40% of the working day) and it is also well documented that over the last ten years, we spend roughly 50% more time Out of Home.
Trends, data and insights support this fundamental shift in lifestyle. We have identified five broad themes which embody this change, which support our own experience that people are living more active lives on the go. The themes embrace urbanisation, leisure time, travel, shopping and technology.
Importantly, there is increased awareness of our improving environment, presenting a greater activation of our thoughts and decisions; ie real engagement with our surroundings. Our new insight project - Moving World UK - fills the gaps in our understanding of how people engage with the world around them when on the move; 93% of us are attentive to our surroundings when out and about and more of us are engaging with technology - living our lives as nomads in the Third Place - ensuring a valuable antidote to our digital-dominant world.
Half the world's population lives in cities; the first time urban living has exceeded rural. By 2050, the proportion could reach 75%. In 1900, it was 10%.
Government initiatives have encouraged development back into town centres. Mini-cities have become the most popular places to live in Britain; big enough to offer decent job prospects, salaries and schools; small enough for a community spirit.
Urban media growth underlines the strong propensity to reach the moving world with emerging digital opportunities in Out of Home media and dynamic growth in the readership of free newspapers across Britain's cities.
Shopping is the UK's national pastime. The average person makes an annual 200 trips to the shops. One in four Britons admits they are addicted to shopping.
Shopping centres are a symbol of participation and leisure. They have become more accessible to more people, and places people actively choose to visit. They represent a new dimension in retail that is a direct result of placing retail developments in city centres.
People are increasingly defined by their activities and lifestyle, rather than by other demographic factors. Leisure time is higher on our agenda as we spend more time participating in activities and reflecting trends like "participation", "experience and adventure".
Young people value their leisure time more than homes. Struggling to afford to buy property - the average age of the first time home buyer has risen from 27 in 1977 to 34 - they are spending what those on the property ladder spend on the home and staying in, on going out.
36 million Britons are on the move between 7am and 9am each morning. Our journeys to work are getting longer; they have doubled since 2003 and we have the longest commute in Europe.
Unprecedented demand for rail travel has encouraged people to take more train journeys than at any time since the Second World War. The number of miles travelled on the rail network reached a record-breaking peacetime high of 30.1 billion during 2007, capping a huge rise in popularity in which passenger numbers have increased every year for the past 13 years.
The Tube experienced its busiest day ever in the run-up to Christmas 2007 with the equivalent of almost half the London population using the Underground in one day. 4.17 million passengers used the Tube on Friday 7 December. Saturday 1 December also set a new record for weekend travel, with almost 3 million Tube journeys.
The global airline industry may be heading for a downturn in profitability but traffic has remained relatively strong and still attracts high volumes of mobile and active people to increasingly sophisticated and welcoming airport environments.
Despite the initial problems with getting Heathrow's Terminal 5 working, the travel experience - and certainly the communication environment - has been enhanced by the introduction of 96 automatic check-in counters, 20 security lanes and new X-ray machines, reducing the total time it takes to get to the gate. It will allow Heathrow to handle 45% more passengers. 27 million people are expected to pass through Terminal Five in the first year; it is estimated that 30% of them will earn more than $100,000 a year.
In 2008, more people around the world will access the Internet through their mobile phones than via a pc. Making it easy - and cheap - to access the internet on a mobile phone has greatly increased usage; the iPhone is helping consumers understand that they can access the whole range of Internet services via a mobile.
Technological innovation has created Society Nomads, those who can connect with others from any place.
Overall Conclusions and implications
The Moving World is expanding and embracing a larger proportion of our lives and more of our lifestyle choices. Recession or economic downturn will have only a relatively short term impact on only some aspects of mobility - increasing consumer movements is a long term trend. The more mobile consumers are more resistant to economic downturns; they remain just as likely to take holidays and even more likely to engage in outdoor activities that preserve their lifestyle in the best way possible.
For information sources and a broader perspective on consumers on the go, see Kinetic's Moving World UK report.