For this month’s Who Cares Wins inspiration session, we were treated to some keen insights into the emergent trends of new Britain beyond the London “bubble” from Britain’s biggest publishers, Trinity Mirror Group, whose extensive portfolio of media – from the Daily and Sunday Mirror to 150 local and regional newspapers, as well as 70 media websites – leaves them extremely well placed to speak about today’s modern mass market.

To kick things off Tony Regan, Head of Modal Britain at Trinity Mirror, explained how Britain can no longer be comfortably divided into upper-, middle- and lower-class groups, like those satirised by the Two Ronnies back in the 1960s. There are a number of factors that have acted as forces for change on the structure of Britain; the recession acted as a “social leveller” that affected both blue and white collar workers, the widespread availability of technology such as smartphones across the population, and higher numbers of people entering higher education. Britain today looks more like a diamond than a pyramid, with the vast majority of the population sitting in the middle – the modern mainstream – and only a small proportion of the population inhabiting either the top (Affluent Metropolitan) or the bottom (Breadline) of the diamond.

Regan then went on to characterise this modern mainstream, initially in terms of finances; 50% of UK household’s income sits between £15K and £45k, with those living outside of London typically having more disposable income than those in London due to the relative costs of living. Modal Britain weathers the forces of change by holding on to traditional mantras and values from their families, such as ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’, and are driven by betterment, such as wanting to make things better for their children or aspiring to be the best baker in the office ‘Bake Off’. Modal Britain prefers to form tight networks of close friends and family rather than have large groups of friends, instead cultivating deeper face-to-face relationships that render word of mouth a powerful tool for brands. Modal Brits no longer move beyond their historical roots for necessity, but out of choice to pursue new opportunities and harbour a strong sense of local pride in the areas they choose, evidenced by huge online traffic to Trinity Mirror’s regional news websites.

Trinity Mirror Group Marketing Director Zoe Harris, formerly a WCRS strategist, then took to the floor to explain what this insight into Modal Britain means for brands. There is a clear disconnect between consumers and brands, with mainstream Brits expecting brands to contribute more to society and add value to the community. Content can act as the bridge, allowing brands to communicate what they actually stand for and give something back to consumers.

And then…the cameras were off, all tweets ceased, as the floor was opened to Mirror Editor Lloyd Embley, Defence and Security Editor Chris Hughes and Head of Politics Jason Beattie for an off-the-record, no-holds-barred Q&A panel. Questions covered everything from the mysteries of North Korea, access to Downing Street since the accession of Theresa May, Corbyn, fake news and, of course, Trump. It was highly interesting stuff so if you’re ever given the opportunity to attend a Trinity Q&A, be sure to take up the invitation!

Bryony Spencer

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