In marketing jargon, we're all a bit fruity

Stars are out. Plums are in
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The Independent Online
The stars and planets may rule your love life and determine your temperament, but if National Opinion Polls has anything to do with it, what really matters in life in the 21st century will be whether you are a plum, a pear, a cherry or a lemon.

After sampling 60,000 people, the researchers have divided the population into eight different categories, each identified with a fruit, which summarises their lifestyle, stage of life and likely financial status, and their interest in specific financial products.

What you are depends on where you fit in seven or eight categories depending on your stage of life, education, income and social class, whether you own your own home, and how many cars you drive. These are all relatively cheap and easy to define. Once you are typecast, the category you are in will also tell the market researcher, the advertiser and the marketing men and women a great deal more about your financial lifestyle.

Specifically it is supposed to tell them how likely you are to be interested in new financial products and services in 10 different categories of product. They include current account, bank or building society savings accounts, national savings, stocks and shares, credit cards, mortgages, bank or building society loans and overdrafts, household insurance, life assurance and personal pension plans.

Sorry ladies, but plums are predominantly married men. Most were educated to at least the age of 18 and earn in excess of pounds 17,500 a year. They live mainly in the South and they typically have at least two cars. Plums also are 3.52 times more likely to own stocks and shares than the national average, 2.2 times more likely to have credit cards, and 1.91 times more likely to have private pension plans.

Pears are typically over 55 and retired. They earn between pounds 7,500 and pounds 17,500 a year and only have one car, but they own their own homes. They are 2.6 times more likely to own stocks and shares, 1.43 times more likely to have bank or building society accounts, but only just over half as likely still to have a mortgage, and barely a quarter as likely to have a loan outstanding.

Cherries are middle-aged, or rather in the prime of life, between 35 and 54, and buying their own homes. They live mainly in the South, they earn over pounds 17,500, are married and live in a household of four, and have two cars. They are 2.4 times more likely to have a mortgage, 2.2 times as likely to have a loan, and almost twice as likely to have a pension plan, but only just over the average in holding stocks and shares.

Apples are the same age-group, but they left school at 16, often work only part-time, earn less than pounds 17,500 and live mainly in the Midlands, the North or Wales. They have only one car, are less likely to have a credit card than the national average, but 1.7 times as likely to have a pension plan.

Oranges are overwhelmingly young, aged under 35, single and living in rented accommodation. They could be unemployed, or students, and their income is typically under pounds 7,500. They are unlikely to have household or life assurance, mortgages, credit cards or pension plans, or even bank or building society accounts. But they are more likely to have savings accounts and could well be good prospects for the future.

Grapes are mainly from large households, with average incomes, but heavy financial commitments. They are 1.33 times more likely to have debts outstanding, they may well have current accounts, mortgages and pension plans, but they are less likely than the norm to have house or life assurance, and very unlikely to have any savings or investments.

Dates are mainly, but not exclusively female, widowed and over 55. They may own their home but could just as easily rent. They will have lowish incomes, under pounds 7,500 a year, and are unlikely to have a car, a mortgage, a pension plan or an outstanding loan, but they are 1.53 times as likely to hold National Savings and be well above average in having life assurance and household insurance.

Lemons are also more likely to be female and living alone in rented accommodation, but they could be any age, either single or widowed, and unlike dates they are below the national average in holding all 10 of the main financial products and services, especially savings and investments.

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