Lessons in self-awareness

It’s been five years since we took a snapshot of what marketers really get up to. Has much changed in that time? We’re all a little healthier, maybe, and less likely to vote New Labour, but gender issues remain, and it seems we all still love

It’s been five years since we took a snapshot of what marketers really get up to. Has much changed in that time? We’re all a little healthier, maybe, and less likely to vote New Labour, but gender issues remain, and it seems we all still love German cars, observes Martin Croft

Marketers spend fortunes poking and prying into the lives and habits of Britain’s consumers. So, in the spirit of fairness, Marketing Week has turned the microscope around and put marketers under the same sort of scrutiny.

The Marketing Week/DLG Marketers’ Lifestyle survey asked readers to tell us what they do in their spare time, how much they earn, smoke, drink, have sex, break the law⦠Basically, we asked all those personal questions that marketers expect consumers to answer.

As the Latin satirist Juvenal, obviously tired of being accosted in the forum by impertinent market researchers, wrote 2,000 years ago: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes”- or “who will watch the watchers?” Taking up Juvenal’s challenge, it’s time to throw the spotlight on marketers again and find out what makes them tick.

This is the fourth time Marketing Week has run its Marketers’ Lifestyle study: the first was in 1989, followed by 1995 and 2001. Comparing the results with the three previous surveys makes for some fascinating reading.

It’s a rich man’s world

It would be gratifying to report that, six years into the 21st Century, the salary gap between the genders is narrowing as women fight their way up the promotion ladder and into the boardroom. Unfortunately, it’s not true. Women are still, on average, earning far less than men. Granted, in the lowest pay bracket in the survey – &£15,000 to &£20,000 – women have seen some improvements: five years ago, 70% of those in this bracket were women. Today, that figure has fallen to 58.5%.

Just over half (53%) of those in the next salary range – &£20,001 to &£25,000 – in 2006 were women, compared with 60% in 2001. However, in the mid-salary range – &£25,001 to &£50,000 – 35.5% of our 2006 respondents are women. Unfortunately, that is a distinct fall from 2001, when women accounted for about half. Meanwhile, at the higher end of the scale, the gap is widening: 19% of those earning between &£50,001 and &£75,000 in 2006 are women, while in 2001 the figure was much higher, at 31%.

Jeremy Whitaker, chief executive of DLG, the data solutions agency which has partnered Marketing Week on the latest Marketers’ Lifestyle survey, puts it bluntly: “There is still work to do to achieve parity. It would also be good to see more women in senior marketing posts and getting involved with agency start-ups.”

In terms of personal consumption, marketers are drinking about the same as they did in 2001. One in five of this year’s respondents (22%) do not drink at all, compared with 21% five years ago. But the health lobby should not break out the alcohol-free champagne to celebrate quite yet. The number of marketers smoking appears to have rocketed from 21% in 2001, to 36% today, which is five points higher than the first Marketers’ Lifestyle survey at the end of the 1980s.

Sleeping more, but still tense

But some messages about exercise and good diet do seem to be getting through. The number of marketers suffering from tension has halved – from 29% in 2001 to 15% today; similarly, the number with insomnia has halved from 18% to 9%. But the number admitting that they are overweight has stayed roughly the same (22% today against 24% five years ago) as has the number claiming to have heart problems (1% both times).

Fewer marketers admitted to having stress counselling themselves this year – 3% now against 5% in 2001 – but the number reporting that colleagues had sought professional help remains roughly the same, at 13% in 2006 versus 14% five years ago.

The last five years has seen a marked swing in marketers’ political support away from Tony Blair’s Labour party and towards the ⢠Conservatives and Lib Dems. In 2001, 34% of our sample said they were planning to vote Labour in that year’s general election, with only 26% saying they planned to vote Tory and 12% Lib Dem. But in our latest survey, just over one-third – 36% – admit to voting Conservative in last year’s parliamentary poll, with 22% voting Labour and 21% Lib Dem.

If anything demonstrates how New Labour’s image has become tarnished since the heady days of May 1997, it is surely the way the image-makers – who should, of all people, appreciate someone who can promise everything but deliver nothing – have deserted Blair.

Marketers are still a pretty God-less lot. Only 27% admit to practising a religion, exactly the same figure as in 2001. As with last time, most of those admitting to a religious bent – some 84% – subscribe to one of the Christian brands (mostly Church of England, followed by Catholic); 4% are Jewish, 2% Mormon and 2% Jedi (they say).

The truth hurts sometimes

This last classification is a testimony to the power of humour – it is a hangover from the 2001 campaign to get enough people to put in “Jedi” on the Census form, in the hope that the government would be forced to accept it as a recognised religion. It would have been easy to think that marketers – who are so worried that consumers are increasingly lying to market researchers – would have the decency to tell the truth themselves.

Some 15% of marketers now claim to make love once a day (or more). In 2001, only 4.5% were that active. This could be because sex has shown a marked comeback, Viagra definitely works, or maybe some of those surveyed have been economical with the truth.

Meanwhile, drug use appears to have fallen significantly in the past five years. Of the 500-odd marketers who responded, only 7% admitted they had used marijuana in the past year, compared to 17% five years ago, and almost back to the 6% of the inaugural survey in 1989. Cocaine use also appears to have fallen significantly, down from 9% in 2001 to 6% today. In both 1989 and 1995, the figure was 3%. Speed or amphetamine use was 1% in 1989, up to 7.5% in 1995, 3% in 2001 and back to 1% today.

Now, the answer to what for some is always the key question of the survey: what kind of car do respondents really want to be driving? Currently, the model most driven by marketers is the Volkswagen, followed by Ford, with a tie between Audi, Peugeot and Vauxhall at number three. But the marque most marketers admire is the Audi, which took a massive 17% of the vote. Then came BMW, with Mercedes and Volkswagen tying for third position, and Aston Martin grabbing fifth place.

A quick romp through some of the other findings reveals almost everyone who answered the survey (96%) has a mobile phone, with 90% having internet access at work and 79% having it at home. More than two-thirds – 71% – have a laptop computer, and 69% have a home PC – although surprisingly, only 68% say they have a PC at work. Half have an iPod or MP3 player, 18% a PDA, 2% a Blackberry and 3% a similar device.

You’re an interesting bunch

Sexual rampancy, drug taking and a love of fast cars aside, marketers are actually a pretty boring lot, if their interests are anything to go by. Top leisure pursuits were DIY and reading, both at 74%; next came gardening at 70%. Surprisingly, though, given the nation’s current obsession with celebrity chefs, only 35% of respondents say they like dining out. A paltry 3% like cooking.

Football is the favourite participation sport, although it only garnered 7%, with golf and swimming next at 4%, then running and tennis at 3%.

So there we have it: a snapshot of the UK’s marketing industry, complete with insights into the peculiarities of the species. Now marketers can all breathe a sigh of relief, and sit back to wait another five years until it’s done all over again.

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