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Customer Base


Obviously having a consumer base is vital to any business; without customers the firm will have nobody to sell its goods or services to and will therefore go into liquidation.


Everybody has needs and wants.  We have a minimum level of needs which are necessary for survival, e.g., food, liquid, shelter, heat and clothing.


People would rather enjoy a higher standard of living, this is because we all have an unlimited number of wants, e.g., holidays, cars and clothes.


Our needs change over time and firms have to react to this.  It maybe that fashions are changing or a craze has just gone out.  Consumers’ views about products also change and if firms fail to acknowledge this, they will cease to purchase that good or service.


Consumer pressure groups may be set up and they can have a great influence upon the activities of businesses.  Recent examples include the testing of cosmetics on animals, the release of harmful substances into the atmosphere and the inclusion of genetically modified goods in food stuffs.


Companies like the Body Shop have played greatly upon the fact that they take into account the ethics and culture of present day society.  They constantly adapt and change their product line and the way the products are produced and sold.


Population Structure (Demography)


This involves the study of the population of a country, including its size, age and sex.



The size of the population is dependent of its birth rate, death rate and the level of migration.  Most developed countries have a stable population, however there are a number of changes that are taking place at regional level.  For example companies in the Southeast of England have had to react to an increasing population over the past 25 years as people move into the area in the hope of finding work.


This means that there are more consumers and therefore a greater potential demand for products.  This will be not only for highstreet goods, but also for housing, schooling and healthcare.  As companies find demand for their products increase, they may also find that costs increase, for example land becomes more expensive.


In developing countries total population growth does occur.  This ha led to opportunities for domestic companies and foreign multi-nationals looking for expanding markets.



Most developed countries are experiencing what is known as the population time bomb; the average age of the population is rising as birth and death rates fall.


In the UK between 1971 and 1991 the number of people over 65 increased by 16% and it is forecast to rise by a further 38% by 2031.


Older people require more healthcare related products, while firms that sell baby products will see a decline in the potential demand for their goods.



The gender balance only normally change in times of war.  Woman are however becoming more dominant in society, often being the bread winners in a household and commanding far greater disposable incomes.



This is the beliefs, attitudes, values and ethics of the people in the society, they can be summed up by describing them as social trends. 



The main changes in UK demography have been:

  • growing environmentalism.
  • growing concern about the ethics of an organisation.
  • greater use of credit to make everyday purchases.
  • growing interest in health and fitness.
  • more leisure time.
  • earlier retirement.
  • more women in the workforce.
  • increased living standards.
  • fall in the availability of younger workers.
  • more skilled and educated workforce.
  • more temporary and part-time workers.
  • ageing population.
  • Further Reading

    Changing tastes in the UK consumer market



E-mail Steve Margetts