OUR RECENT online focus group of people from the so-called “squeezed middle” revealed that they are not feeling the benefits of the economic recovery and also have virtually no faith in politicians (from any political party) to help improve their lot. This week I will delve into which brands the squeezed middle are warming to this Christmas, and which retailers may be left out in the cold.
When we asked which brands they most associate with Christmas, participants named John Lewis and Marks & Spencer for their great Christmas adverts, overall quality and “nostalgia” for what the brands represent – but that doesn’t mean they’ll be shopping there. “M&S does have lovely things but is so expensive,” said one 47-year-old man from Dover. They said that places like eBay and Amazon have become increasingly important for holiday shopping, and were also enthusiastic about brands like Lidl, Morrison’s, and especially Aldi, which they see as the right combination of quality and low prices.
Turning to BrandIndex, YouGov’s brand perception tracker, when we filter for respondents who have white collar jobs we see that Marks & Spencer and John Lewis still take pride of place for middle class Brits.
However, since 1 November John Lewis’s index score has risen by only one-point, to 53, despite its hare and bear advert. Meanwhile, M&S actually dropped seven points to 49, also in spite of a high-voltage ad campaign. In contrast, Aldi came up four points, from 20 to 24. We’ll have to wait and see how each brand does on Christmas sales, but these numbers indicate that the battle for Middle Britain is becoming increasingly competitive – and it’s going to take more than glitzy ads to win over consumers.