Brockley Economics: Demand-side

When we first moved to Brockley, the advertising billboards around Brockley Cross were plastered with ads for dubious churches, debt consolidation firms and sexual stamina pills. These days, they're full of ads for cereals, supermarkets and TV stations, suggesting that advertisers believe there is a new demographic in the area to be targeted.

At first, we attributed the change in advertising to the arrival of the East London Line, whose route we thought advertisers may have been following. But we now reckon the change took place some time last year, most likely after the new Mosaic data was released by Experian. Mosaic is probably the most widely-used tool for marketers and planners trying to identify particular demographics in particular areas. It will tell an advertiser whether (it thinks) the people in your house are "Young, well-educated city dwellers", "Elderly people reliant on state support", "Wealthy people living in the most sought-after neighbourhoods" and so on.

If Experian thinks there are more people with more cash in the area, with different tastes to the people who lived here last time they did the survey, then ads change accordingly. So the billboards in Brockley should be a signal to small businesses in the area about what type of potential customers live locally. The ads for cars and yoghurt suggest there is more money locally than once there was.

But while this is undoubtedly true, it is by no means the whole story. According to recent data for Brockley, it remains a highly mixed area, with the biggest single category of household described as "Lower income workers in urban terraces in often diverse areas" followed by "Young, well-educated city dwellers" and "Young people renting flats in high density social housing". None of that ought to be particularly surprising to anyone who explores Brockley for themselves, but one of the most striking details is that there appear not to be any old people in Brockley.

For those worried about the onset of gentrification in Brockley, don't be. The data suggests that your elderly carcass will have been escorted from the premises long before Brockley becomes a middle class fortress.