Trendspotting #15

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The Independent Online
l Can you stomach it?

People with stomach ulcers are 50 per cent more likely to read The Mirror, The Sun or The Mail on Sunday than the national average, according to a study by marketing consultancy ICD. The study also found that those same ulcer sufferers are 80 per cent more likely to watch more than five hours of television a day. Now you might conclude that all that depressing TV news and EastEnders is stressing people out, while the tabloids are overstimulating their gastric juices. Or it might be that the unhealthy tend to be the poor and the poor tend to watch a lot of TV and read the tabloids. Still, the moral outrage of The Mail on Sunday can't be good for anyone's health.

l TV viewers grow thin on the ground

According to viewing figures in the first quarter of 1997, people now watch exactly half an hour less terrestrial TV a day than they did 10 years ago. In the first three months of 1987, average daily viewing of terrestrial TV in the UK was 4.04 hours a day. In the first quarter of this year this was down to 3.34 hours a day, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. The main beneficiary is, of course, satellite and cable channels. But figures from advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather suggest that the next generation won't watch much of those channels either. One third of all television use by children doesn't involve actually watching TV. They use the screen either to play computer games or watch videos.

l It's all foreign to me ...

Foreign news is the second biggest reason, after domestic news, why people buy national newspapers, while sport and television come a poor fourth and fifth. According to National Readership figures for 1996, 60 per cent of adults say that their favourite newspaper topic is European and foreign news. Only 35 per cent say the same about sport or TV listings. Having invested millions over the past few years in TV and sports supplements, you might think the national press would throw all that out. But the research only asked people about foreign news if their newspaper of choice actually carried any, which leaves out an awful lot of tabloid readers. Still, it might explain why you won't be able to throw a brick in a Hong Kong bar next month without hitting a British hack.

l The lucrative world of junk

Direct mail, the junk that lies in your communal hallway causing a fire risk and annoying neighbours, is growing, according to the latest figures from the Royal Mail. The sexiest advertising medium in the world now makes up over a fifth of every household's post, while addressed junk mail makes up another fifth. Add to this free newspapers, which are about 10 per cent of the postie's bag, and local leaflets etc that account for 50 per cent of your total mail. The average response to direct mail is a measly 7 per cent. The door-drop stuff from your local pizzeria or mini-cab firm gets a 2 per cent response. Well worth all those trees - if you're in direct mail.

l Courting the uptown boys

ITV has failed to attract all the motor racing fans who watch Formula One on the BBC. The San Marino Grand Prix was four million viewers down on the BBC's achievement and the Brazilian and Argentine Grand Prix were a million viewers down on last year's figures, according to a report by air-time buyers CIA Medianetwork. Does this mean that ITV has wasted its pounds 50m or more investment in the championship? No, it doesn't. ITV is about making money, not bettering the BBC. The Grand Prix has increased the numbers of upmarket men who watch ITV on a Sunday by 400 per cent, according to Marketing Week. Upmarket men are usually those least likely to watch ITV, so to the network, and its advertisers, they are worth their weight in goldn