With local and mayoral elections just round the corner, marketers and media owners across all platforms are analysing polling data, comment pieces and social media in an attempt to understand the political pulse of the nation.
Kantar Media’s TGI survey has been measuring levels of political engagement over the past ten years, with the chart below demonstrating where interest in politics has been at its highest and lowest. Currently, just under 4.5 million adults in Britain claim to be “very interested in politics” – the lowest for five years. If we look, however, at the levels of political interest over the last decade we can put this figure in context, as it seems that the peaks and troughs of political engagement follow the electoral cycle. The highest levels of interest in politics were recorded in 2005 and 2010, which were years when general elections were held.
Over the course of the last decade the nature of political campaigning and engagement has shifted dramatically with politicians and constituents alike embracing social media to broadcast their messages in an instant. So while the levels of political interest remain broadly predictable, how has this affected the profile of the most politically engaged consumers in Britain?
Testing the notion that younger consumers are among the most apathetic, TGI data reveals that the number of 15-24 year olds who claim to be “very interested in politics” has risen by more than 50% since 2001. What’s more, the impact of social media on political campaigning has made digital natives all the more influential as they are the most readily disposed to amplify a campaign message.
While slightly more than half of all under 25s claim to have spoken about politics in the past 12 months, Word of Mouth data from TGI shows that they are also 25% more likely than the average adult to persuade others about politics. Moreover, those in the 25-34 year old age bracket are 50% more likely to be Word of Mouth “political champions” meaning that they carry knowledge, have the power of persuasion and promote messages to the widest audience.
For the marketer, Word of Mouth “political champions” are also a lucrative consumer group to target. Almost half of this group are in social grade AB and they are over five times more likely than the average adult to have a personal income of more than £75,000. Tapping into this group can reap huge rewards as they are also considerably more influential than the average consumer on a whole range of categories including financial services, electric equipment and cars.
These new-age political influencers are not exclusively reachable through digital media, what sets them apart is the rich mix of media that they consume on a daily basis. For instance, 70% of them access the internet at least once per day, compared to 50% for the adult population at large and they are twice as likely to use blogging or microblogging sites. Yet, more than 500,000 consumers who influence others when it comes to politics read a newspaper every day and more than 80% of them read at least three different titles, ensuring that they are particularly well informed.
Engaging with broadcast media is also a staple of the daily routine of a “political champion”. For instance, they are more than twice as likely as the average adult to listen to commercial radio at home early in the evening. This group are also some of the keenest television viewers – although a significant proportion of their viewing is time-shifted (more than half of them watch TV on Demand).
Even though the next general election may be up to three years away, the trends identified since the early 2000s indicate that levels of political interest are set to grow. Using quantifiable insight, therefore, is vital in determining how to reach those consumers who are most likely to carry the power of persuasion in order to ensure that campaign messages are amplified as widely as possible.
By Gary Brown, April 2012