Northern Irish are least materialistic, survey reveals!

It used to be owning a Gucci bag, driving a Porsche or wearing a Rolex which filled the wish list of social dreamers – but now a survey says everything has changed, especially for those in Northern Ireland.

89 per cent of Northern Irish residents – the highest percentage of any UK region – say they value experiences above material possessions.

Conversely, Londoners were the region most likely to value possessions above experiences, with 24 per cent responding as such.

The survey was commissioned by Boundless, the events and experiences club, and produced some astonishing results.

Despite a world in which we are all surrounded by adverts for brands and luxury goods, people from every region of the country, every sector and every background were all agreed: it’s experiences which really matter.

Four out of five people in 2018 – a whopping 80 per cent – say they value experiences above material possessions.

It wasn’t only the Instagram generation driving the new outlook, either.

Generation Z and Millennials aged 16-24 were clearly on board with 81 per cent agreeing experiences come out on top. But over 55s were even more certain, at 82 per cent!

Ian Holmes-Lewis, Director at Boundless, said: “There has been a feeling for quite a long time that Millennials have been moving towards valuing experiences over possessions, but these result paint a much wider picture.

“Right across the board, people were pretty clear that what matters in life is experiences rather than what we own.

“In the same poll, two-thirds of people also said that spending time with family was what made them happiest, followed by time with friends and making memories.

“There’s a theme building here that as a nation we are starting to think deeper about what we want from life and what will make us happy.”

There was an element of good news for luxury retailers, however – at least for those who are targeting men! Only 75 per cent of men chose experiences over possessions, which was significantly less than women on 84 per cent.

There were also differences between professions. A full-out 100 per cent of farmers chose experiences above possessions, with sports and leisure workers, teachers and nurses also featuring in the top four.

However, 33 per cent of those in advertising (as you might expert) chose possessions above experiences, with electricians returning the same result and plumbers topping the possessions table on 36 per cent.

Ian said: “The results should be interesting both for employers and for HR managers in charge of employee benefits.

“If people are valuing experiences above possessions and feel happier when trying out new things and spending time with friends and family, that’s something businesses should be aware of.

“Being happy in life can translate into a far better environment at work, too. Salaries are important, of course, but this survey shows that ‘money can’t buy’ experiences are increasingly highly valued in society.”


The Top Sixes

By region, top six in favour of experiences

  1. Northern Ireland 89 per cent
  2. Wales 87 per cent
  3. Scotland 86 per cent
  4. East of England 83 per cent
  5. West Midlands 82 per cent
  6. North East 82 per cent

By region, top six in favour of material possessions

  1. London 24 per cent
  2. South West 23 per cent
  3. South East 22 per cent
  4. Yorkshire 22 per cent
  5. North West 21 per cent
  6. East Midlands 19 per cent

By profession – top six who prefer experiences over possessions

  1. Farming 100 per cent
  2. Sport and leisure 90 per cent
  3. Teacher 87 per cent
  4. Nurse 86 per cent
  5. Admin 86 per cent
  6. Marketing 86 per cent

By profession – top six who prefer possessions over experiences

  1. Plumbers 36 per cent
  2. Advertising 33 per cent
  3. Electricians 33 per cent
  4. Taxi and lorry drivers 32 per cent
  5. Shop assistant 29 per cent
  6. Estate agents 29 per cent

By age group – top five in favour of experiences over possessions

  1. 55+ – 82 per cent
  2. 35-44s – 82 per cent
  3. 16-24s – 81 per cent
  4. 45-54s – 80 per cent
  5. 25-34s – 77 per cent

Sample: 2,043 respondents with 1,010 in the Public Sector and 1,033 respondents in the Private Sector