What does it mean to be British in 2012? In a world where borders are disappearing to the global economy and the seemingly boundless platform of the internet is a reality, does ‘British’ have any currency anymore? What does this mean for global organisations, and the way they approach the British market’?
We have been studying Brits and the British market for many years. However, thanks to our global studies
, we can go one step further and contrast our little island with the other nations of the world, enabling us to see ‘Britishness’ both from within and without – similarities, differences, warts and all. This has given us a birds-eye view of incremental change across almost every aspect of British life, from health and wellbeing, through technology, banking, socialising, snacking, tourism, entertainment and drinking.
Some things never change, but ‘Britishness’ has become broader in definition. Afternoon tea with scones and jam is still a favourite pastime, but now specialised themed teas are on offer such as a ‘Madhatters afternoon tea
’ and a ‘Sex and the City tea
Some organisations have tapped into the stereotypical things about British ritual that never change. Due to their non-prescribed seating plans, Ryanair encourage passengers to form orderly queues when boarding their planes, which Brits embrace and ensure fits into their airport routine;- “Darling, we need to get to the gate early to make sure we get a good spot in the queue”.
And in a year full of celebrations several brands have been reaping the benefits of their British heritage. In the wake of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee festivities and the Olympic Games, many organisations have seen their brands grow through exploiting their Britishness. These include Virgin Media, who have incorporated the Union Jack flag into their current logo and sponsored the ITV show Britain’s Got Talent. Mini, though now owned by BMW, are also continuing to emphasise their British heritage, with increasing appeal in markets such as China and Russia as the world wants to ‘Buy British’. As an official partner to Team GB they are enjoying record sales this year!
Marks and Spencer have also notably tapped into the Jubilee and Olympics fervour via their latest advertising campaign. Using the slogan ‘On your Marks for a summer to remember’, against a backdrop of British ambassadors such as Gary Barlow and Jamie Redknapp embracing ‘the perfect British summer’
, M&S are eager to make the most of Britishness by portraying idyllic British scenes of fun, festivity and family time in order to reverse a recent sales dip.
So what does all of this mean? Stereotypes and ritual should not be ignored when marketing brands in Britain. ‘British’ does indeed have true currency in our modern world, as patriotism and love for traditional British pastimes are still very much alive. Our unique ways are intrinsic to who we are and how we are seen by the rest of the world. Tapping into these unique ways can in fact drive brand growth and this especially applies in times of celebration; meaning 2012 is without doubt a brilliant year for Britishness.
This article was written for Brand Republic by Lauren Mattey, Andy McQuade and Jennifer Mallett of Ipsos Marketing