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Mosaic UK

A consumer classification providing insight into the demographics, lifestyles and behaviours of UK consumers, Mosaic is a common currency for target audience definition across traditional and digital channels.

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Inner City Vibrancy report shows how urban living is reviving key UK cities

Manchester has the most vibrant inner city
6 of England’s 8 Core Cities have seen the greatest increase in inner city vibrancy
Young professionals and students are driving inner city growth

New research on the vibrancy of our cities released today by Experian, the global information services company, shows how inner city living is putting the heart back into some of England and Wales’ key urban centres, particularly in the Core Cities - former industrial heartlands outside Greater London.

Experian’s Inner City Vibrancy rankings identified 75 key urban areas within London boroughs and cities across England and Wales based on 2011 Census data. A 1km radius around the centre of each area was used for analysis. Analysing and comparing 2001 and 2011 Census data, each of these centres were ranked on eight key characteristics covering the housing type, tenure, economic activity and the professional status of the population living within these areas. Research also drew on Experian’s Mosaic classification to identify more precisely which types of people are living in inner cities and how this differs across the country.

The Inner City Vibrancy rankings give what Experian believes is a measure of how vibrant our cities are in terms of having a young, affluent resident population – in short cities with real communities – and how this inner city vibrancy has changed over time.

Key findings of the research include: 

  • Manchester has England and Wales’ most vibrant inner city, jumping 20 places up the rankings between 2001 and 2011 to first place 
  • There are four non-London centres within the top ten places for inner city vibrancy highlighting key pockets of growth and regeneration mainly outside the South East: Manchester, Canterbury, Leeds and Lancaster
  • Indeed, the six cities with the biggest jumps up the inner city vibrancy rankings between 2001 and 2011 are all Core Cities and in the North and Midlands of England
  • Dagenham ranks lowest overall for inner city vibrancy. Hull, Salford, Portsmouth and Stoke on Trent complete the bottom five places
  • Young well-educated people, often professionals as well as student populations are driving this growing inner city vibrancy

Nigel Wilson, Managing Director, Consumer Insight & Targeting, Experian Marketing Services commented:
“Clear insight into people and places – who is living where and what these places look like - is important as it is essential intelligence for a number of organisations and government bodies.  We’ve been working with this sort of insight for many years so we’re ideally placed to map and add colour to the key demographics and trends that are changing the face of Britain.”

Manchester is England and Wales’ most vibrant city

The urban centre of Manchester comes top of the ranking based on 2011 data, up from 21st place in 2001 .  Its rise has been driven by significant city centre residential development – it ranks 1st for purpose-built flats and 2nd highest for private renting – low levels of social renting and unemployment and an affluent student and professionals population - 95 per cent of households in the area contain young cosmopolitan city dwellers in the Mosaic group Liberal Opinions – are other key drivers.

Kensington is the 2nd ranked centre but for very different reasons to Manchester. It has higher levels of outright home ownership (9th highest) and those in professional occupations (7th highest) than Manchester, which ranks 64th and 26th on these measures.

Canterbury in 3rd place, Leeds in 5th place and Lancaster in 8th place are the three other urban centres outside of Greater London that make the top ten. Canterbury has the 5th lowest level of unemployment out of the 75 centres analysed, low levels of social renting (14th lowest) and high levels of students and outright ownership, ranking in 16th and 13th place on these variables. Leeds’ position in the rankings is due to very similar reasons to Manchester. It has the 2nd highest level of purpose built flats, the 3rd lowest level of unemployment and the 2nd lowest level of social renting.

Dagenham’s lowly position is due to its low levels of purpose built flats, private renting and residents in professional occupations, compared to the other centres. It also has relatively low levels of students, the 9th highest unemployment level and 10th highest social renting level out of all of the 75 centres. Despite its proximity to Manchester, high levels of students (ranking 22nd) and purpose built flats (38th), Salford is on the opposite end of the rankings to its near-neighbour, due to high levels of social renting, low levels of ownership and a high percentage of unemployed.

Revival of industrial heartlands – six Core Cities see the biggest increase in vibrancy

The six cities that have seen the greatest change in inner city vibrancy between 2001 and 2011 are all in the North and Midlands of England – Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham. These are all Core Cities, representing six of the eight largest city economies outside London.

In Birmingham a huge swing from social renting to private renting (private renting in the city increased by 41.5 per cent between 2001 and 2011) tied to an increase in purpose built flats and a resulting 17 per cent increase in residents with professional status led to the city’s rise up the rankings. Liverpool saw a huge growth in purpose built flats (up 37.8 per cent in a decade), while Sheffield’s position was fuelled by a 35.9 per cent increase in private renting and a 26.2 per cent increase in its student population.

Young people driving inner city regeneration

Student populations and youthful affluent city dwellers are helping to create more vibrant inner city areas, the research suggests.  It is their demand for leisure and entertainment, convenience and their ready use of technology that is helping to bring life and establish communities in our urban centres.

Over half of the households in 40 of the 75 urban centres analysed are what Experian describes in its Mosaic consumer classification as Liberal Opinions – young fairly affluent city dwellers. Over 90 per cent of the households in the urban centres of Manchester (1st) and Leeds (5th) fall into the Liberal Opinions category, as do over 80 per cent of the households in the urban centre of Ealing (9th). Manchester and Leeds centres are nine times more likely to be populated by Liberal Opinions than England and Wales as a whole.

Conversely the percentage of households in Liberal Opinions in the 10 lowest ranking centres for Inner City Vibrancy are between 1 per cent and 49 per cent. In fact, 5 of the lowest ranking 10 centres each contain less than 15% of Liberal Opinions. 

Students are a key type within the Liberal Opinions and four of the top ten places for inner city vibrancy have very large student populations. Forty two per cent of residents in the urban centre of Leeds are students, and almost 40 per cent of Manchester’s urban centre population is made up of students. Almost a third of urban centre residents in Canterbury (34 per cent) and Lancaster (32 per cent) are students.

In order to sustain and build inner city vibrancy, it’s essential that local authorities, retailers and developers focus on providing what these urban new residents are looking for now and for their future needs. 

Experian suggests that means providing experiences, such as fun venues and leisure opportunities, premium offers and independent stores. They want choice, but there also has to be a greater focus on convenience as they are time poor, or are not prepared to spend time on chores such as the weekly food shop.  Technology also needs to be easily accessible, which they will use for socialising, purchasing, information, price comparison and voucher hunting.

Nigel Wilson concludes:
“The research is important as it provides valuable information on how the urban cores of London Boroughs and key cities within England and Wales’ have changed in the decade between 2001 and 2011.

“Commercial organisations such as retailers and consumer brands can draw on this data to help them to identify the most appropriate locations for their stores, where to target particular services or marketing offers. It is also of value to the public sector, helping government bodies and NGOs target relevant services or campaigns at certain parts of the population, for instance financial, health or drink awareness campaigns aimed at students and young people.”

  • © 2015 Experian. All rights reserved