Why Londoners are less loyal to brands
A view from Natalie Cummins

Why Londoners are less loyal to brands

People in the capital may be less loyal to brands, but provide a big opportunity for advertisers if they do get it right, argues Zenith's UK managing director.

The London bubble is a topic that has been catapulted into the centre of conversation this year, following political and economic developments in the UK.

But from a marketer’s perspective, how different can Londoners really be? We wanted to reassess, and given their extensive insight, partnered with ESI Media’s Evening Standard to understand what makes Londoners unique.

First up, the subject of brand loyalty. Londoners are less brand loyal than the rest of the UK, being significantly more likely to have bought a new brand within the last week compared to non-Londoners (39% versus 29%).

Across all categories, Londoners were also twice as likely to try a brand because it’s new (15% versus 7%). A fifth (21%) of Londoners admitted that advertising caused them to try a brand they’d never tried before in the last week, compared to only 7% of non-Londoners. 

Their appetite for the new adds value to them as an audience group for advertisers. This desire to try new things means that rather than feeling bombarded, Londoners were 60% more likely to welcome advertising than non-Londoners, with 55% viewing ads as an art form.

This translates into action as well. After seeing an ad, Londoners are almost twice as likely to purchase the product (21% versus 12% for the rest of the UK) or visit the brand’s website (24% versus 13%). Even better if the ad allows them to get involved; Londoners over index against non-Londoners in liking advertising that allows them to share something (45% versus 27%).

It’s also worth looking at what, and who, is influential for Londoners. There are some marked differences to the rest of the UK, with lifestyle often dominated by long working hours and less tightly knit community networks. It’s clear then that work plays a bigger part in people’s lives within the city bubble, making Londoners more time poor. 66% of Londoners place the work environment high up in their importance list versus 50% across the rest of the UK. 

In terms of the "who", recommendations from friends and family are still key but Londoners are 10% less likely than the rest of the UK to be influenced in this way (59% of Londoners) and 9% more likely to be influenced by bloggers and celebrities (15% of Londoners). This could be down to a number of factors; celebrity culture could be more relevant if people feel closer to famous faces in a cosmopolitan city, or exposure to so many options could spark a higher need to seek justification online to help refine long consideration lists.

So what does this mean for marketers? At Zenith, we’ve long believed Londoners need to be treated differently, but this research has highlighted the fact they’re a separate, very valuable target that we need to consider for our clients. It shows how important it is to create something bespoke – ideally with an experiential or social angle. Loyalty may not be guaranteed, but the rewards if brands do get it right are huge.

London in numbers

  • The London population has 8.6 million residents with 17.4 million foreign tourists every year;
  • 5,177 inhabitants per every square mile (10 times the amount of any other UK region);
  • 66% of Londoners are under the age of 44;
  • 37% of residents are born abroad;
  • 30% of Londoners are online for more than six hours per day;
  • Londoners average four meals out per week and account for 17% of the UK’s retail sales (more than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined).

Natalie Cummins is managing director of Zenith UK