It seems that your browser is outdated. For a better and faster experience simply upgrade to the latest version.

Close IE8 advice

The nation’s aspirations revealed, but keeping up with our wishes will cost us £230 billion

18th February 2011

  • According to the Direct Line Aspiration Index, 96 per cent of people want to upgrade their possessions
  • And a quarter say economic climate has had no impact on obsession for possessions
  • ‘Health and wellbeing’ is the nation’s ultimate goal

Almost all of us (96 per cent) aspire to own something better than what we currently have; with the total bill for the nation’s aspirations coming to £230 billion, according to the Direct Line Aspiration Index.

The study, commissioned by Select from Direct Line, asked people to think about their possessions, from handbags and watches to laptops and sofas, as well as the car they drive and the holidays they take. It analysed what people have now, compared to what they realistically aspire to owning within the next five years. The price tag for the nation’s aspirations stands at a staggering £230 billion. In order for the average person to meet their realistic goals within five years, they would each have to own items worth almost £5,000 more than their current possessions.

The study shows that people plan to fork out an extra…

  • £500 on a watch
  • £150 on their handbag
  • over £3,000 on their car
  • £270 on a holiday and £270 on their laptop


Donna Dawson, behavioural psychologist, said: “It is psychologically healthy to hope, dream, strive and aspire for better things for ourselves and our families; in fact, it is part of the universal human condition. However, it is important to ensure that our material aspirations are kept within our financial means; otherwise, we become slaves to them. As evidenced by “health and well-being” being made their first choice, people know on a deeper level that the most important things are beyond price.”

The Aspiration Index reveals that six in ten people will save up to buy the things they really want, but one in five will cut back on things like meals out and entertainment, while 15 per cent will put it on plastic. For almost a quarter (23 per cent) the economic climate has had no impact on their aims. However, over half admit they’ve been affected – with one in ten cutting back on their hopes, and one in five accepting they may no longer achieve some of them.

Stuart Ballantyne, head of Select from Direct Line, said: “We all love ‘keeping up with the Joneses’! The nation certainly has ambitious aspirations for their possessions – many of us will always be on the look-out for the next big trend or designer, but the question is can we afford it? For those who are realistic about what they want and are saving hard to achieve them, then their goals are in sight – but beware if your solution is to rely on credit, for example.”

The study revealed that a third of respondents (29 per cent) do not adjust the level of their home contents insurance when they buy new things of value. A fifth (19 per cent) will, but only for very high value items.

It also found that health and wellbeing is the nation’s ultimate goal in life, followed by happiness and then raising a family. Despite the nation’s obsession with possessions, wealth took only fifth place.

Notes to Editors:

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2017 UK adults aged 18+ from 4th to 7th of February 2011. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

Respondents were asked what they currently own from a range of categories, and what they realistically aspire to own in five years time. The categories are:

  • Cars
  • Handbags
  • Mobile phone
  • Jeans
  • Laptop
  • Watch
  • Cosmetics
  • Sunglasses
  • Sofa
  • Holidays


For consumers who need higher levels of cover than standard insurance policies typically provide Direct Line has recently launched ‘Select from Direct Line’. It offers bespoke insurance bundles where customers can choose one product only or a portfolio of covers, including high value home insurance, car, pet, travel insurance and breakdown cover; all under one Select policy with one annual renewal date. The products give customers enhanced levels of cover and greater levels of customer service.

For more information on Select from Direct Line please call 0800 533 5200.

For further information please contact:

Claire Foster
020 8285 8682

John Diviney
020 7294 3696

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides car, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting