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People, passions & pounds – the role of magazines in the emerging identity economy

People, passions & pounds – the role of magazines in the emerging identity economy

Misplaced media spend in a booming identity economy: an opportunity for advertisers. Research from Enders Analysis in partnership with Magnetic.

In Brief

Most UK consumer spending, and the vast majority of its growth, is in categories which reflect who we are and where we feel we belong: lifestyle signifiers, passions, and social activities.

Communities are at the heart of this growing economy, but ad spend on media which visibly targets us as members of a group in a relevant context has, on average, lagged behind in these categories.

Advertisers recognising the power of emotionally and culturally relevant context in media, sponsorships or events are finding an opportunity for building brands in the identity economy.

Key Findings

  • We identified 14 consumer categories as the UK identity economy. In all of them, products and services have meaning as status symbols or means of self expression. Purchases in them can channel our enthusiasms, or bond groups. Examples include fashion, travel, fitness and sports, food, music and gardening.
  • These categories made up 52% of discretionary household spending last year, and captured 79% of the growth in spend in the last five years.
  • This economy presents a marketing opportunity which is underutilised by advertisers. In many of the categories, ad expenditure growth has not kept pace with the growth of passion pounds and expressive consumer spend.
  • Academic research suggests that our identity (who we are and what we feel a connection with), and how present-to-mind a given part of it is, influence decision-making, including purchases – particularly in the identity economy.
  • Even if you reach the right people with the right message, they can be more or less receptive to it based on how salient the right parts of their identity are at the time – a factor affected by media context.
  • Emotionally and culturally relevant media, sponsorships and events: deep-rooted contexts for marketing strengthens brand memory structures built by ad creative and market.
  • With the right contextual targeting, one-to-many communications has an advantage over hypertargeted, one-to-one marketing: the advertising is experienced as ‘overheard’ by the whole interest community, a source of legitimacy and potential generator of positive word of mouth.
  • The exact mechanisms of how the emotional relevance of media context and creative work together in advertising are still not fully understood, but the campaign case studies in this report illustrate just how powerful the right combinations can be, and how targeting the right identities can even expand the addressable market of an entire category. 

Implications for Advertisers

The Identity economy presents a marketing opportunity which is underutilised by advertisers. In many of the categories, ad expenditure growth has not kept pace with the growth of passion pounds and expressive consumer spend. To capitalise on the identity economy, advertisers seeking to grow brands in it should consider how the media they advertise against, not just the creative, is relevant to their target audience.

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