'Life stage' is what counts, not your age

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The Independent Online

Age is out, "lifestages" are in, according to advertising and marketing groups studying new ways of defining our behaviour and spending patterns.

Age is out, "lifestages" are in, according to advertising and marketing groups studying new ways of defining our behaviour and spending patterns.

A recent report questions "the value of age as a marketing planning tool" and suggests a new list of lifestage categories, from people who "live with parents", through those who have "children in household, majority of pre-school age" to those who "live with partner only - no children".

The new categories, says the report, reflect the fact that, these days, people rarely move through a given set of life experiences which correlate with age. A few do the traditional thing of leaving home, getting married, having children.

But the report, for the Newspaper Society, says that there are clear correlations between lifestages and behaviour and attitudes. "Those with pre-school children are more likely to be heavy commercial radio listeners," the report states, and: "People living with their partner only, have the highest index for the statement 'I read the financial pages of my newspaper'".

Similarly, "people with children are more likely than average to use mail order" and "heavy Channel 4 viewers" are most likely to live with their parents or to have children who have left home.

Advertising executives welcomed the attempt to find new categories. "Newspaper sales executives can tell you the age, sex, class and wealth profile of its readers," said one, "but beyond that we mostly rely on our own research".

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