There will be 25% more 18 year olds in the UK in 2030 than there were in 2020 — and the effects will be cultural, commercial and creative.
We now talk about trends more than maybe ever before but this is mostly dominated by voices focussed on tech and a narrow idea of marketing.
Demographics are the most fundamental of clues to what the future holds — and what that will mean in your own particular part of the working world.
More Happy Birthdays
There were fewer 18 years olds in each year of the 2010s across most of the rich world, but from 2020 onwards the UK bucks this. There will be more 18 year olds every year from now until 2030, when there will be a slight peak (893k people will celebrate their 18ths that year). From 2030 to ‘35 at least though, the UK will continue to produce 20% more 18 years olds than it does today.
The rest of Europe will not be living the same story at all. They will have a pretty stable supply of 18th birthday parties. Ireland and Sweden will though have less dramatic boosts in newly minted adults, and in 2030 Germany will begin its own UK-style teenager boom over the next decade.
For now this is a UK phenomenon. On these here islands for the next two decades there will be a lot more people doing what teenagers do; making things, buying things, changing things.
The Echo of a Boom
Strategists in the UK across a whole range of fields have fixated on the idea of millennials for at least a generation. This is a segment supposedly linked by allegedly common experience of digital technology.
Their power though is also the result of being the children of baby boomers, the postwar rise in new births that in the UK peaked in 1964. The after effect of this created an “echo boom” as the next generation came in the 80s and 90s. More people means at the very least more spending power so it is no wonder that brands and companies started to pay attention as these echo boomers came of age.
But 18 year olds have never just been consumers.
Those same postwar baby boomers were the pioneers of being a teenager. Since then popular culture has been shaped by the creativity and rebellion of teenagers. That is something that is about to be back in much greater supply.
A teenager is a powerful thing
Given the explosion in tools and platforms for creators there has perhaps never been a more fertile environment for a boom in new creatives to come of age. Though the UK teenager has in the past not needed much help to reinvent youth culture even beyond these shores.
For those of you creating new products or marketing them then it’s probably time to work out how you respond. More new adults are about to be learning, buying, choosing, without established habits to make them more predictable.
We may talk about tech and narrow marketing trends but we maybe are not talking enough about some of the fundamentals.