ANALYSIS: NEWS ANALYSIS - VIPer survey pins down those slippery customers: the ABs/Jim Curtis reports on the new consumer research into society’s high-fliers

Working in media sales may sometimes feel like being in a snake pit, so it seems strangely appropriate that a new tool to aid the salesman’s lot is called VIPer. This is the latest stab at putting a face to that most desirable but elusive of people - the high-spending, fast-living AB consumer.

Working in media sales may sometimes feel like being in a snake

pit, so it seems strangely appropriate that a new tool to aid the

salesman’s lot is called VIPer. This is the latest stab at putting a

face to that most desirable but elusive of people - the high-spending,

fast-living AB consumer.



Created by a consortium of media owners, whose core audience is within

this small but affluent segment, VIPer is not open to everyone. The

consortium members - Channel 4, Times Newspapers, Conde Nast, Classic

FM, More Group and Mediapolis - will jealously guard the information, as

they predict it will grant them unique access to the heads and wallets

of today’s high rollers.



Traditionally, intelligence on AB consumers has been the hardest to come

by. They have the least time to take part in questionnaires and aren’t

easily bribed to do so.



The key difference between this and trusty tools like Premier TGI and

BARB, is that VIPer delves much deeper into the lifestyles, buying

habits and media consumption of 25- to 54-year-old AB adults. Based on

the findings from a 1000-strong panel, it avoids the numerical rigour of

a quantitative survey like TGI in favour of qualitative insight and

detail.



Sean Kelleher, commercial marketing manager at Channel 4, says, ’BARB

tells us how many people watch us and how many of them are ABC1. But it

doesn’t tell us why they watch and what they think. VIPer doesn’t

substitute, but complements the existing data.’



For sales people, VIPer could prove a valuable tool, allowing them to go

to clients with authoritative and genuinely new data on a misunderstood

market. Stuart Corke, strategic planning manager of Times Newspapers,

says: ’It allows us to have a more cerebral sales approach, will open

doors to new clients and will enhance relationships with existing

ones.’



The seven clusters of AB consumers identified by the study are at the

core of its offering. From the Johnny Vaughan-like ’Social Chameleon’ to

the Jilly Cooper-esque ’Country Casual’, VIPer attempts to get to grips

with the loves, hates and media habits of the ABs - a group now

numbering 10 million. These may just sound like those social labels,

’yuppie’ and ’dinky’, but the clusters have proved useful.



For one thing, newspaper and magazine consumption is growing in line

with internet usage, not falling, which is priceless information for

Times Newspapers and Conde Nast.



Another key value of VIPer is that it is a tracking study and will be

regularly updated as the consortium goes back to the panel to ask new

questions and test if their answers to old queries have changed. Julie

France, sales and marketing director of More Group, says this is a real

advantage: ’TGI is out of date as soon as it’s on the street, because

the field work was done so long ago, but with this, the research is

being constantly updated. We’re now interpreting the first wave of

results and the next lot is already in the field.’



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