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FIPP Insight Award: TI Media discovers a forgotten target ‘Heart of Britain’

TI Media won a Silver FIPP Insight Award in the category Research B2B for their ‘Heart of Britain’ project. ‘Heart of Britain’ are the 14 million people who make the household decisions, buy products and bind our nation together.  Brands that focus on the perceived affluence of ABC1 and millennial consumers may be missing out on a £350bn commercial opportunity. The research was aimed at urging media buyers to “look outside of the London bubble”.

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In partnership with research firm Differentology and using innovative methods like machine learning, video and AI, TI Media set out to better understand this audience and discovered a “forgotten economic powerhouse” and the “driving force” behind local communities and high streets.

Much has been said about the alleged inability of the UK’s media and advertising industry to communicate with ordinary working Britons. These women – dubbed by TI Media as the “Heart of Britain” (HoB) – sit “at the centre of families, communities and the nation as a whole”. Without this group there’d be no NHS, no customer service, schools would close, and the British economy would be £350m a year lighter.  And yet, they don’t have the appeal of the likes of Millennials and are thus an often neglected and misunderstood media audience.

Heart of Britain average and total income

The original influencers

Our findings featured around 5 core pillars:

  • Strength: They are the nations caregivers; full of empathy, compassion and generosity.  They have an optimistic outlook and embrace authenticity and honesty in the world around them, particularly in their media choices.

Graph Heart of Britain typology

  • Economic power: They are the forgotten economic powerhouse; representing 14 million women and £350bn in economic income (vs. AB audience £324bn, Millennial audience £190bn).  Representing more spend than both AB and Millennial audiences across key categories including groceries, Christmas, holidays and even automotive.

Graph Heart of Britain purchasing power 1

  • Savviness: the misconception is that this audience is driven by ‘cheap’ but the reality is that they are incredibly savvy with understanding and evaluating ‘value’.  They are willing to pay the extra price tag, but only when it is really worth it.

Graph Heart of Britain savviness

  • The original influencers: They have a presence in multiple communities from their family through to neighbourhoods, customer service and the wider world. They are powerful advocates within their networks connecting the dots for the community around her, with 58% actively recommending products they like to their peer group.

Importance of magazines and ads

From each of these pillars, we ultimately found the importance of magazines (and adverts specifically within magazines): our Heart of Britain audience are actively looking to magazines for inspiration and guidance that directly influences their wallet and purchasing decisions.

A key finding of the study was how much the female figure in the house holds the purse strings and the likes of Iceland, Wilko and Lidl are all in advanced partnership discussions having previously done little to no weekly print media with TI.  Beyond this, Heart of Britain has informed TI Media’s approach to insight generation, and sales approach for Q4/Christmas period, expecting to hit £250k revenue in the Christmas TV issues alone, with the commercial offering fuelled by the Heart of Britain research.

We took an often under estimated audience and shone a light on their value. Stepping out against the repetition of Millennial projects and demonstrating the value of mainstream audiences. The project has, (and continues to) service one of its primary functions, which is to open doors and start conversations with clients direct, who we previously may have struggled to engage with. Or, get access to planners/comms/strategy teams that are higher up the planning chain.

Goals and methodology

There were 2 core objectives to the Heart of Britain project which we have measured success against. Objective 1: To break ranks and illuminate the value of the often mis-understood, ill-represented and under estimated, audience of aged 35+ C2DE women. Objective 2: To open doors and start conversations for TI Media directly with clients, who previously may not have engaged with their print publications. Or, (where applicable) to gain access to planners/comms/strategy teams that are higher up the planning chain.

Methodology: to shine a light on this overlooked audience we took a large scale, mixed methodology approach blending in-depth ethnography, peer-led quads (to remove the researcher effect), AI semiotic and semantic analysis turning qualitative transcripts into at scale data points, along with a robust online survey.  The results were brought to life using LivingLens video diaries to influence everything from ad sales to editorial and using AI analysis on qualitative transcripts allowed us to create impactful, data driven charts from a large-scale ethnographic study (a media research first!). This innovation allowed us to understand beyond what is said in an ethnographic setting, mapping emotions and archetypes to deliver a comprehensive understanding of this audience, and how media is able to influence their purchasing decisions.

Differentology and TI pride themselves on research innovation.  A key criteria for the project was to deliver a media research first that sparked attention but also delivered incremental value.  To do this we used semiotic and semantic machine learning into a qualitative environment, turning ethnographic transcripts into scalable data points.  Alongside this we brought the project to life through the use of video in order to ensure the project was able to live on and influence the business beyond the point of debrief!

Source: FIPP

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