George Pitcher is quite wrong to suggest that Middle England has vanished (MW July 22). If it has, how is it that the Daily Mail, Hello, the Today programme, Volvo et al are all going strong?
Total UK household disposable income has risen by almost 40 per cent in the past ten years. Middle class social grades are growing as a proportion of the total UK population, with half the population now belonging to the ABC1 group. The size of this group is set to continue growing. Increasing affluence means more powerful and knowledgeable consumers.
But, as Pitcher points out, being part of Middle England isn’t just about income – it’s also about holding certain values. And here is perhaps the biggest surprise. Not only does Middle England exist, it’s getting younger, especially in the South, where people are earning higher salaries at younger ages.
The real challenge for brands is that Middle England is now drowning in choice. And, as its inhabitants become more marketing-aware, they are more likely to turn to a friend or relative for an opinion before buying. Does that mean that Middle England is beyond marketing? Not at all.
The Middle English expect the basics – good quality and service. Then, it is brands’ job to build genuine relationships with the most influential people in the network: the leaders and the connectors. By giving people reasons to say good things about them, brands build involvement over the longer term. It’s simple relationship marketing.
The way to win the hearts of this group is to show them that their custom is appreciated. Their loyalty should be rewarded with exclusive offers or privileged information. Fortunately for marketers, Middle England expects businesses to use the data or knowledge they have about them to personalise communications appropriately. They want something back: in marketing jargon, a “value exchange”.
It is precisely the nature and quality of these value exchanges that make or break loyalty, and make or break brands.
Senior research manager
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