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Advertisers usher in classless society

BRITAIN'S advertising industry is attempting to achieve what John Major could not: a classless society.

Out go the traditional socio-economic classifications of A, B, C1, C2, D and E. In come groupings according to media usage. Nowadays you are what you read, or what you watch on TV.

The marketing brains at Carat, the media buyer owned by Aegis Group, have regrouped Britain's population into 'broadsheet browsers', 'media hermits' and other exotic species.

Broadsheet browsers are medium or heavy readers of quality newspapers who watch ITV but for less than two hours a day. They are twice as likely to have gone on a US holiday than the average adult, butdrink less cola and eat fewer crisps.

Media hermits also watch little ITV but are infrequent readers of newspapers. This makes it hard for advertisers to reach them through press or television campaigns.

'Media junkies' are keen on ITV, read lots of newspapers and consume more cola and crisps than the average consumer. Small wonder that they are almost 40 per cent more worried about their weight. Media junkies are also infrequent pub goers and only 5 per cent use credit cards more than six times a month, compared with 28 per cent of broadsheet browsers.

However, as far as advertisers are concerned, they are as easy to target as the browsers.

Other categories include 'telly addicts', who watch a lot of ITV and avoid the printed word, and 'maggies', who love to flick through magazines but are light newspaper readers.

The move from advertisers has been prompted by sweeping changes in lifestyles. These have made socio-economic classifications, based on the occupation of the head of the household, harder to use. It is now misleading to relate lifestyles simply to income or occupation.

'By using new techniques advertisers hope to target their marketing more effectively,' Phil Gullin of Carat said.