A new study has confirmed the marketing industry’s blinkered view of UK consumers with just one in ten Brits feeling advertising actually reflects life where they live.
Was it ever thus, you may say; and with an industry populated by white middle class men, making ads for white middle class people living in the South, it seems diversity is as elusive as ever.
According to the research from independent media agency the7stars, advertising is failing to represent the diversity of life across Britain.
While only 11% of respondents agree that advertising reflects life where they live, the majority (55%) of respondents said that it did not, and the remainder (34%) expressed no opinion. This came despite 56% of respondents agreeing that the debate around diversity in advertising is more widespread than ever.
The findings are from the most recent wave of The QT, a consumer confidence and attitude tracking study conducted on a quarterly basis by the7stars.
The research also highlights how the nation is divided along lines of geography, with Londoners far more likely to agree that advertising is reflective of life in their region (18%) compared with just 1% of those in the North East.
Consumer opinion is also split according to age, with younger millennials (those aged 18-24) more positive about advertising. In this age group, 46% agreed that advertising is more representative than ever before and 40% said they felt fairly represented by modern advertising. This compared with 24% of respondents overall saying they feel fairly represented by modern advertising and only 12% of those aged 65 or older.
Younger millennials also gave clear indication of their increasing expectation for advertisers to be socially aware, with almost two thirds (63%) saying brands had a responsibility to challenge stereotypes compared with 33% of those aged 65 or older.
On average, consumers are cynical of advertising’s social duties, however, with the majority (52%) unconvinced that brands genuinely care about social issues. In addition, two fifths (42%) feel that brands sometimes exploit diversity events such as LGBT pride.
Frances Revel, associate director of insight at the7stars, said: “The fact that the majority of Brits feel the debate around diversity is more widespread than ever gives evidence that advertising is moving in the right direction.
“However, this latest wave of The QT also highlights that advertising needs to do more to break out of its London-centric bubble and ensure it is reflecting the diversity of real people across the length and breadth of Britain. By our calculations, up to 39 million adults in the UK are not convinced they’re represented by the advertising they see on TV, online and in print. It’s staggering.
“Also, there is a clear message that younger consumers expect advertisers to have a position on wider social issues, and those brands who have a real sense of purpose and honesty – who are unafraid to break taboos – will be the ones who will succeed with audiences of the future.”
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