“Get older generations talking to younger generation. This polarised conversation is not productive!” says the news brand’s head of insights.
Coinciding with the launch of the news brand’s new insights piece ‘The Generation Factor‘, Mail Metro Media’s head of insights Luke Hand lent his expertise to Mediatel’s Future of Media panel ‘Understanding the cross-generational divide in media representation’ calling on brands to unite the age gap.
Hosted by Christopher Kenna, CEO and founder of Brand Advance, Hand was joined by a generationally diverse panel of experts including Belinda Beeftink, research director at the IPA; Elliott Millard, head of planning at Wavemaker UK; and Dorcas Matomby, Brixton Finishing School graduate and nanny at Mother.
Against a backdrop of the recent social backlash from Sainsbury’s Christmas TV advert (and the backlash against that backlash), the panellists each gave their unique take on representation in our industry.
Setting out what exactly “cross-generational” means, Hand said that generational analysis is simply a way of looking at formative experiences like technological developments, global events and social shifts to understand how that shapes people’s perceptions of the world.
Why is it important to understand the different generations?
Millard highlighted that it’s key to media targeting. There are different drivers and reasons why people buy things and different requirements from the brands that are immediately in front of them.
Matomby added that it’s about how brands are being perceived. It’s wiser to acknowledge that Gen Z are much more political, driven by the huge amount of political access they have.
She said: “When someone gets it wrong, it’s not just going to be a backlash, Gen Z will actively boycott those brands. They now view those brands as brands that don’t see them or represent them or see their views and that’s inevitably going to affect the business. Your backlashes and your boycotts won’t just end there; they’re not just a blip on your reputation, they’re going to affect your sales. Those are your future consumers.”
Echoing her sentiments, Millard pointed out: “You can’t just put diverse people in your ads, you have to make sure they’re being seen by a diverse group of people. The reality is, there’s a commercial upside to this. Be better because you need to be better but also because you will sell more stuff!”
What is ‘Britishness’ and what does it mean for brands?
Hand’s suggestion, drawn from his analysis of Mail Metro Media’s data, was that the difference in the definition of ‘Britishness’ is stark depending on the age group.
He said: “Baby Boomers were born post-war when the country saw a sense of collectiveness and national pride. Their notion of ‘Britishness’ is a lot different from the younger generations who’ve had to deal with Brexit – where the votes were at polar ends generationally.”
All agreed that if brands can tap into what ‘Britishness’ means for each generation and get it right, it can be really powerful (think the 2012 Olympics) but if you get it wrong, the dangers can be detrimental.
Hand suggested the key is to get out and talk to people, especially in the wake of Covid-19 to take stock and realise what is important to them. He finished with: “Let’s go out and talk to people. Get older generations talking to younger generations and end this polarised conversation because it’s not productive.”