Four years ago, Future began their flagship research into, what they affectionately refer to as the ‘Heart of Britain’ (HOB). This research provided a refreshing take on ‘mass-market women’ and you can read more about the original research here.
For those new to this key audience, the film below captures the essence of what it means to be the Heart of Britain.
What makes the audience so important?
- Their scale is enormous – 14m UK adults impacting on the decision making of 26m. They are powerful influencers in their family and community
- They are strong and pragmatic and generally happy day to day
- They make purchase decisions for themselves and others – and they have started to change shopping behaviours towards helpful and responsible brands and retailers
The latest wave
It’s fair to say that it’s been an eventful period since Future started tracking this audience – from Brexit into a global Pandemic and now a Cost of Living crisis which may well trigger a recession.
The latest wave of Heart of Britain looks at the impact of the cost of living on this key audience. This is an important question for advertisers and media owners alike as this issue brings both risk and opportunity.
Cost of living
The Cost of Living Crisis is the single biggest concern among the Heart of Britain now with the HOB audience over indexing.
This does not mean they are no longer concerned about broader issues such as the environment or NHS (they are), but of MOST concern is the day to day matter of providing for their families health, both financially and physically. They are also well equipped to root out real value and manage household budgets to squeeze out every last drop.
It’s interesting to see where they are likely to try and save money – you can see their selfless nature immediately apparent as they first cut back on non essential items for themselves rather than friends or family.
Next to go are likely to be similar non-essentials – like eating out or socialising in the pub. Remember the pandemic has equipped them for a more frugal lifestyle and they are quite happy to spend time with loved ones at home. There’s also opportunity for “smaller treats” to offset the larger savings but maintain their happiness.
A switch towards own brand products looks on the cards too but again we know from the pandemic that buying some branded items led to small moments of happiness. It’s a value exchange where price and quality compete for their shopping basket.
Finally it’s unsurprising that looking at Utility suppliers is on the cards, and we know they already shop around supermarkets for best value.
They need help and reassurance and practical assistance from trusted sources – so there is still opportunity for brands
This audience are very adept at living to a budget and are used to it flexing over time. But the Crisis will force them to review where they are spending money for their household each week (i.e. “the now” in terms of spend) and then to review other financial commitments like Savings plans, Wills and Mortgages.
With a reduction in disposable income, one area of potential saving is Holidays – and the Cost of Living crisis is now more of a primary disruptor to travel than COVID related reasons for HOB. This group are almost twice as likely as others to have no plans for a holiday currently. Money saved is likely to be banked or put towards something else, rather than used for a holiday next year instead.
As the cost of living crisis plays out there could be a late surge for UK-based breaks, activities, and days out – as well as a continuation of spend on improving their own gardens.
Another recent trend has also had an impact on holiday choices – the pandemic saw a significant growth in animals kept as pets across the UK – and these are now a significant factor in the type of holiday chosen, or whether people holiday at all.
35% have acquired a new pet over the last two years and the study suggests that pampered pooches or cute kittens might be unlikely beneficiaries of the Cost of Living crisis – with 94% of HOB saying they will spend the same OR more on their pets this year
We know that small purchases – “little wins” – bring additional joy to this audience
More time at home has meant more time watching TV, and while this audience still over-index in watching TV live, they have started paying more for streaming services. (This makes streaming services more popular than enjoying a cup of tea as a way to relax)
The number of average providers has risen by 40% for this audience across the pandemic – with Netflix (52%), Amazon Prime Video (42%), and Disney+ (18%) the most popular providers.
There are still 18%, however, only watching traditional analogue channels – so this market is not yet saturated for this audience.