Middle class ‘in crisis’ as parties gear up for final push

downing st 10Nearly half a century after Saatchi & Saatchi devised the poster proclaiming “Labour Isn’t Working” in the run-up to the 1979 general election, the agency has published a new study which reveals today’s middle-class consumers – classic target voters for all political parties – are in crisis.

The second instalment of the “What the F**k is Going On?” series, which the agency launched last year, is a deep-dive ethnographic study which attempts to determine what makes this cohort tick.

Entitled Heartland, it is authored by Saatchi & Saatchi chair and chief strategy officer Richard Huntington, and comes less than a week before the general election.

It features real perspectives and experiences from individuals across the UK, alongside five cultural commentators: Nick Ferrari, Joeli Brearley, Otegha Uwagba, Harry Wallop, and Henry Dimbleby.

As part of the investigation, Saatchi & Saatchi also went into homes across the UK and spent at least half a day speaking to respondents to find out what they think about the UK and their lives, the challenges they face, and their outlook on the future of Britain ahead of the July 4 poll to determine who will be in No 10 Downing Street.

From these conversations, the study identifies a raft of recurring themes, such as what drives the group’s work ethic, their goals and aspirations, how satisfied they are with their life set-up, and the importance of both community and family during such a difficult period of time. The report details the findings, true perspectives from those interviews, and the associated imperatives for brands and businesses.

The study, which has been supplemented by quantitative insights from more than 2,000 people earning between £30,000 and £125,000 annually, found that while more than half (52%) of those surveyed consider themselves to be middle-class, only 60% say they are “proud” to fall within this demographic.

Exactly the same proportion (52%) believe that a “hard work” attitude leads to a better quality of life, although just two-fifths (42%) believe that going to university will lead to better opportunities than a vocational course or apprenticeship.

Additionally, nearly three-fifths (58%) have a ‘side hustle’ to earn additional income – including a second job, selling belongings online or using discount programmes to save costs. Moreover, 25% of people surveyed admit that the rising cost of childcare is a struggle in their lives.

Even so, there is a smattering of optimism, with the importance of family and community being a recurring theme across those interviewed, who highlighted these as necessary during such a challenging time, as a “grateful for what we have” attitude from those interviewed.

Richard Huntington said: “This year, we looked specifically at those paying basic or higher rate income tax. As marketers and society, it seems we are sometimes embarrassed by this group, yet they form most organisations’ key customer base.

“These findings are essential to truly understand the full spectrum of this complex demographic, the daily challenges they face, and how they feel at such a pivotal moment in the future of the UK ahead of the election.”

Related stories
Sagacity data geeks predict result of general election
Unison exposes the ‘cons’ in outdoor election campaign
When will politicians and pollsters tap marketing data?
Industry steps up campaign to demystify political ads
Industry acts to try to ensure political ads are working
Just Vote gets down and dirty to get youth to the polls
ICO warns political parties over abuse of personal data
Supermarket sweep: Shoppers buy into Labour offers
Labour vows to put tech and AI at the heart of economy
Tories ditch new data reforms Bill in election manifesto
DMA calls on main parties to prioritise data, tech and AI

Print Friendly