We applaud the work the Newspaper Society is doing to up-weight marketers’ focus beyond national and London-centric media. Engaging with regional audiences and communicating at grassroots level is an opportunity that has been missed by too many marketing programmes.
The changing media landscape is a key driver fuelling the growth in the power of the regional media. The explosion of digital media has created a more localised feel to how consumers consume their media, enabling them to fast-forward, delete and ignore content that does not have relevance to their lives. In a society as diverse as the UK, one size does not fit all, and national media have found this to their cost. By contrast, regional press can more closely reflect the lifestyle of its audience and be more responsive to the key issues of the day.
A further catalyst for the vibrancy of the regional market is the regeneration of the regions. The re-emergence of brownfield sites as hi-tech business parks has sparked bursts of economic growth, as well as creating attractive, low-cost bases for major plcs to relocate to. This has helped stimulate regional economies and provided consumers with money to spend.
Regional communities have a much more stable population compared to London, where dwellers can be much more mobile. This can lead to a relentless need to focus on the recruitment of consumers to replace those who are constantly moving on. This is in stark contrast to the regions, where brands can yield far greater retention.
Together, this creates an environment where marketers can reach people who have money to spend, through channels that they are loyal to and trust, creating a strong platform to influence and change the behaviour of their target audiences.
These are compelling reasons to ensure the regional dimension is not overlooked. But regional targeting needs to be done using grassroots intelligence. Marketers need to understand what motivates their consumers. However, it’s hard to achieve this level of knowledge when the marketing agencies’ geographical knowledge does not extend beyond the M25.
As a business, we can’t afford not to be a regional player and we would challenge all marketers as to whether they can afford not to have a dialogue with consumers on a local level – today’s changing media climate and consumer lifestyles makes the argument much more compelling.