Advertisers target confident introverts and L-plate lads

Forget ABC1s, C2Ds and all the other traditional ways of classifying consumers.

Forget ABC1s, C2Ds and all the other traditional ways of classifying consumers. Now it's "L-plate lads", "progressive leaders" and "confident introverts". Advertisers are starting to use classifications such as these in an attempt to pinpoint the media that potential consumers buy.

A survey by Carat Insight, the media research group, has found distinct bands of consumer with particular preferences in the newspapers they buy and the TV programmes they watch. This more specific targeting of consumers is becoming more important as advertising budgets are cut, because companies try to get more for their money.

This strategy could be good news for niche media, particularly the specialised TV channels with small numbers of viewers.

Carat found one group of "confident introverts" who don't think they are stylish, think the internet has changed their life and don't bother themselves with being popular. This might not sound the most dynamic of groups, but confident introverts buy computer software and music, and intend to buy their own home.

Therefore, mortgage lenders, record companies and IT product manufacturers might want to advertise in broadsheets, particularly The Observer, and along with particular types of films, because confident introverts were found to favour them.

"Progressive leaders" are frequently vegetarian and usually, high achievers. They read The Times and watch Queer as Folk. They like art and culture and spend a lot on clothes, so theatre companies and designers would want to target them. They are also found to look forward to the fare offered on the Film Four channel. The "L" plate lads commonly read The Sun and wear multicoloured shirts, but they are also keen on beer and gyms, as well as designer labels.

About a third of Carat's 100 customers have used the survey to hone in on particular groups. Nivea For Men has used Carat's results, although it has not grouped its consumers under any one heading. It has now shifted its advertising strategy from lads' mags to sports programmes, when it was found that the men most likely to use skincare products were particularly keen on sport.

"Rather than go into FHM, they went into sponsorship on Talksport and a national press campaign on the sports pages," says Jenny Biggam, marketing director of Carat Group, the owner of Carat Insight. "That's quite a brave thing for a skin products manufacturer to do."

A leading vodka manufacturer also switched its advertising strategy when it found vodka fans aspire to be opinion formers, and watch controversial programmes that are likely to be talked about the next day.

They are targeting TV programmes including Big Brother and Trigger Happy TV rather than going for mass-market audiences.

Sue Elms, managing director of Carat Insight, said, "Companies design advertising for specific target groups, but don't buy advertising for specific target groups, which is a disjointed way of doing things. This is a way of joining them up."

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