Metro releases Urban Life research findings

The Metro newspaper this week revealed the findings of Urban Life 2003, its research into the lifestyle, opinions and consumer behaviour of its readers.

Metro's survey, which was launched last year, aims to give advertisers and media agencies a snapshot of the paper's city-based readership, which it has dubbed "urbanites".

In one of the largest research projects undertaken by a single media owner, Metro questioned 4,000 18- to 44-year-olds via e-mail.

During the six-month study, the volunteers were quizzed on their favourite TV programmes. Six of the top ten were programmes on commercial channels.

However, the BBC2 drama serial 24 came top.

Channel 4's Friends also scored highly, with 26 per cent of respondents saying it was "unmissable".

BBC1's EastEnders, in third place, was the only British soap opera to make it into the top ten, and ER came fourth.

The survey also discovered that brands form an important part of its respondents' identities.

The survey found its respondents to be extremely brand-literate and to have cynical views on the relationship between celebrities and the brands they advertise. For example, 70 per cent felt that the footballer David Beckham, the current face of Vodafone, would use its mobile phones. However, only 41 per cent believed he would drink Pepsi.

Fifty per cent of men and women believed Jamie Oliver would shop in Sainsbury's, while only 34 per cent thought Jane Horrocks would buy her groceries in Tesco.

Respondents were even less convinced by celebrity tie-ups with financial services. Only 11 per cent believed Martin Kemp would use Abbey National, while Samuel L Jackson's link with Barclays Bank was accepted by just 6 per cent of respondents.

Doug Read, the executive director of Metro, said: "The issue for most endorsements comes down to the credibility and the appropriateness of the celebrity and brand."

The survey found Victoria Beckham was the most over-exposed female celebrity, with 67 per cent of respondents preferring to see less of her.

At the other end of the scale, Kylie Minogue remains popular with a third of female respondents and 42 per cent of participating men.

Read said of Urban Life: "This young audience is the people that many advertisers need to understand in order to launch, build or maintain their brands. They also represent the heart of the service industry sector, which increasingly defines modern UK society.

"The scale of Urban Life allows us to provide robust and reliable results.

The panel also allows us to track trends and attitudes across time, which is essential with this group of the population. Their natural dynamism means media choice, brand perception and life stage needs constant tracking."