“Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” This quote by Professor Aaron Levenstein reminds us of the limitations of statistics. As an industry we often find ourselves combining stats with a share of our own personal experiences and acquired knowledge in order to predict consumer behaviour.
We have all been guilty of making assumptions on public behaviour based on what we see and experience in our everyday London lives. Even early in my media experience I have often found myself having to backtrack on my London based behavioural thoughts.
Although London holds a population of 8 million, the truth is that 87% of people in the UK don’t… a stat which is much more than just suggestive. In understanding this, it seems shocking that so many people whose role it is to target and communicate to the public often forget to fully acknowledge how the majority of the country live.
London – wealthier, younger and more diverse certainly thinks and behaves differently to the rest of UK. You don’t have to dig deep to see strong examples of this, with the recent 2015 General Elections portraying the vast differences in political behaviour for a start. Simply put, the left wing Labour party were majorly favoured in London. Everywhere outside of the capital however proved to be the complete opposite, with the right wing Conservatives having an incredibly overwhelming geographic presence (bar Scotland). This of course became the contributing factor for their overall success and dominance in the election.
(Constituency Map of England & Wales – Tories in blue)
This provides an early indication of a difference in mind-set and a London-centric attitude. No doubt this has an influence on Londoners and can be reflected on the media industry, with London at the heart of Advertising and Media in Europe.
In the industry, on behalf of our clients we regularly analyse a range of demographical factors in order to filter the audience and reach our desired target. Even with the most basic factors such as age, class and income, you can identify significant differences between the capital and the rest of the UK, not to mention a range of other contrasting factors. In further grasping this, 45% of London is white British vs 92% in UK and 58% of graduates (working age) are in London vs 38% in UK (Quora, 2015). Collectively all of this contributes to a resounding influence on everyone in London and notably, the Media industry.
The wealth and power of London as a global city is undeniable, generating 22% of the entire UK’s GDP which displays its dominant status within the UK. As a Londoner born and bred, I am in agreement with the idea that in this instance, it is sometimes difficult to ‘see farther than the end of one’s nose’.
With the London population growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the UK, this is a gentle reminder regarding the bubble we operate in. Efforts to consciously bear this in mind could well improve behavioural planning in our industry.