What does ABC1 mean?

Demographic classifications in the UK and the ABC1 grade an explanation by WebWindows

Demographic classifications in the UK refer to the social grade definitions, which are used to describe, measure and classify people of different social grade and income and earnings levels, for market research, social commentary, lifestyle statistics, and statistical research and analysis.The

National Readership Survey (NRS) is a non-profit but commercial British survey concerned with monitoring, analyzing and providing estimates on the number and nature of people who read Britain’s newspapers and consumer magazines. It is funded by the UK Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA), and Periodical Publishers Association (PPA).

The social grade definitions by the NRS are widely used as a generic reference series for classifying and describing social classes, especially for consumer targeting and consumer market research by the advertising UK media and publishing sectors.

National Readership Survey (NRS) demographic categories

Social Grade Social Status Occupation
A  upper middle class  higher managerial, administrative or professional
B  middle class  intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
C1  lower middle class  supervisory or clerical, junior managerial, administrative or professional
C2  skilled working class  skilled manual workers
D  working class semi and unskilled manual workers
E those at lowest level of subsistence  state pensioners or widows (no other earner), casual or lowest grade workers

ABC1 categories and their spending patterns in the current economic recession
Statistics reveal that the past few years have seen a steady increase in the number of adults who fall in the A, B and C1 socio-economic group. This can be attributed to various factors such as the changes in the economic conditions, rise in educational opportunities and changing employment patterns across the globe. All these factors have resulted in a shift of focus from the traditional ‘blue collar’ jobs to those in the ‘knowledge professions.’

The rise in the ABC1 social grade, and the subsequent increase in spending power, has had a strong impact across industries and markets in the UK. It would be interesting to analyze the change in spending patterns of the ABC1 category in the current economic scenario.

Food markets: Historically, the ABC1 consumers have been ready to pay more for their food as compared to the people in the lower social grade. Figures point to the fact that since 1999, ABC1 consumers have strongly been influencing on many of the trends within the food market. This trend is not just based on higher affluence but also on other factors such as a greater awareness of health issues and ethical concerns relating to food. Also online shopping has been a very strong driving force for increased spending on premium food products. But trends now show that during the present economic crisis, manufacturers and retailers would find it harder to charge a premium on top of the already inflated basic food prices as the ABC1 consumers would not really be willing to pay more.

Housing: In the times of the housing boom in the UK, it was the ABC1 consumers who drove the buy-to-let market by investing in property as an alternative to pensions or other financial investments. The ‘correction in prices’ in the housing market in 2008 will have deep repercussions for the home-related products market. Studies reveal that although consumers in the A and B groups are unlikely to change their spending habits in the prevalent uncertainties in the market, those falling in the C1 would definitely change theirs to weather the crisis.