Almost all major brands 'fail to connect' with consumers outside London

Most major brands are seen as out of touch with or uninterested in consumers outside of London, a study by Trinity Mirror has found.

Somewhere outside London: are brands failing to connect?
Somewhere outside London: are brands failing to connect?

The publisher, with BDRC Continental, surveyed 2,000 UK adults in April – 743 in London and 1,257 across the rest of the UK – and asked questions about the 56 brands, which include major retailers, travel companies, mobile networks and various others.

It then produced a "relevance score" for each brand, indicating the gap between perceptions of the brand in and outside of London. 46 of the 56 brands came out with a negative score, meaning their relevance outside London lagged its level inside the capital.

People outside of London were more likely to make negative observations of the way they are viewed or treated by brands – and this was true across socioeconomic and age groups.

Overall, those outside London were 25% more likely to say that brands did not understand people in their local area. When only ABC1s are included, this difference is almost exactly the same, at 24%.

Across all age groups, non-Londoners were 21% more likely to say that brands did not aim advertising at people in their area. Among 16- to 34-year-olds, the difference was also 21%. But for 35- to 44-year-olds, this rose to a huge 48%.

Across the UK, brands are facing widespread apathy, the study suggests. On average, 54% of respondents said they did not care if a given brand exists. This figure was at least 40% for 48 of the 56 brands (87%).

The results proved that the "London bubble" was not only a reality, but a crisis in the making, Zoe Harris, group marketing director at Trinity Mirror, said.

"We have witnessed a monumental shift in the political landscape over the last 18 months, which runs much deeper than Westminster," Harris said. "None of British society is untouched, and the ramifications stretch to brands as they are increasingly considered to be part of the establishment and are experiencing growing consumer distrust.

"The filter bubble we are so used to talking about impacts how we perceive brands too, something the London-based advertising industry would be foolish to ignore."

Harris added that measures brands could pursue to tackle the situation include anecdote-telling to support brand story-telling, and moving from implicit to explicit geo-targeting.

"If it was once the marketers’ job to amplify a brand truth, now is the time to prove a brand’s truth. It’s no longer enough to tell people what you stand for. You have to actually stand for it – stand up for it – and demonstrate it in real-world action," she said.

"Most brands aren’t London centric. That doesn’t mean that consumer perception recognises this. Explicitly demonstrating to your audience that you’re talking to them – on their turf – will go a long way to dispel the London establishment prejudices that exist. We believe this can have a disproportionate effect on brand affection, attribution and affinity."

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