The UK rural economy is increasingly driven by consumption-based demands rather than by productive land use. Such demands have been an influence on rural land use for many hundreds of years, but a range of factors, including greater wealth and mobility, have reinforced a long-standing trend for the rural economy to be consumption driven. A number of recent economic analyses and more anecdotal sources are used to furnish evidence of the importance of new consumption demands. It is argued that such demands may impact directly on land markets through land purchase for amenity, etc. and indirectly through bringing affluent people into closer proximity to diversified business opportunities. It is argued that these new economic realities are the dominant drivers of economic change and that their recognition might suggest new approaches to the support of strategies to deliver more sustainable rural development.