No LEGO in the mail this Christmas – The Importance of Social Insights…


Unusual vibrant multicolored festive bauble with rows of tiny mosaics in the colours of the rainbow, close up view for a colorful Christmas or holiday background

Love or hate it, Christmas advertising is a talking point for us all at this time of year. Our favourite social media streams are flooded with opinions on the long-awaited John Lewis advert that signals to so many that the run up to Christmas has truly begun. Whilst funny, endearing and certainly encapsulating, those in the John Lewis camp did miss one little trick that others such as Marks & Spencer and Amazon tapped into, the social agenda.

2016 has seen global social issues become central to the public dialogue across the world. A direct result of regular headlines covering a changing political landscape and some terrible humanitarian crises within the last 12 months. Uncharacteristically for us, a Kingdom normally United, we have found ourselves and our views the cause of division within our family units, work places and social peer groups. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the ad agencies.

UK brands seem to be engaging with many of these passionately debated topics head on. Marks & Spencer have featured ‘Mrs Claus’ referencing gender sentiment to drive home their Christmas message giving a nod toward the calls for equal pay for women fulfilling the same role as their male counterparts. Amazon decided to move forward with a story of religious inclusivity, in a post Brexit Britain where minorities feel under threat and the population seems divided on the effect of a growing mix of cultural background within the various local communities. Both thoughtful, engaging and reflective of the popular agenda.

The channels which carry the campaign message are also under the microscope. Lego cutting ties with the Daily Mail presents an example of how a brand came to realise that their media partner’s wider agenda could potentially alienate a good percentage of their target market.

The risk in getting your customer engagement targeting wrong can be critically damaging. To minimise this risk finding deeper and more innovative ways to analyse their customers would be wise. Not just their buying habits or their demographics but further into their moral and social stand points.

At this point, it may be an easy assumption to simply promote a company profile of inclusivity and for many brands this will be the case. However, we only have to look into the results of EU referendum and US election to notice a substantial percentage of the populations polled feel very differently about the level of inclusivity currently adopted in their countries. So maybe it’s not that easy?

Get it right and deliver a message in line with your customers social understanding and provide a provocative campaign, credited for its positioning. Get it wrong, and isolate the entirety or portion of your target market and weeks of crisis management.


The pressure is for researchers and agency insight/planning teams across the country to deliver astute audience analytics.  Researchers should be leading the conversation and helping to develop processes that will ensure that key insights are picked up and that it is delivered with best practice employed at every stage. To provide an overview of what this means:

  • Ensure Your Sample is Representative of the Brands Target Demographic: the research audience must closely represent that of the brands customer base, potentially offering further splits into accurate buying groups for deeper segmentation. With inter-generational and inter-regional differences of opinion there is a need to tailor campaigns and therefore the research at a more granular level. Agencies and researchers must collaborate to piece together accurate customer profiles using previous analysis of the market demographics to understand shifts in opinions
  • Be Inventive with your Methodology to Ensure Subtle Extraction of Insights: Interview techniques must be inventive, as direct confrontation on sensitive issues is unlikely to yield comprehensive results. A great example of this can be seen from the accuracy of a poll in the US which asked not ‘who will you vote for in the coming election’ but ‘who do you think your neighbours will vote for in the coming election’. Researchers must empathise that questions regarding social agendas can be sensitive and as such a subtle and clever approach must be adopted
  • Utilise the Anonymity of Online Research: Research conducted with the known presence of a researcher (via telephone, focus group etc) can influence the validity of the research on topics that are sensitive or taboo. Social media can also suffer from the same problem, whilst some customers may be vocal on topical issues on these platforms, the legitimacy of their comments can come under question as every opinion is tied to a visible profile. To uncover a detailed truth, respondents must be ensured of their anonymity and feel free to provide their genuine viewpoints without judgement

Our belief is that this trend will not disappear any time soon. There will be an ever increasing need for brands to carefully monitor the political and social agenda to provide the best chance of achieving campaign nirvana. If the correct insights are harnessed there will be the opportunity for brands to align themselves with their customers more than ever before.

For more insights into the solutions Vitreous World are proposing for the industry please do read our previous articles which can be found on our free blog.

Thanks you so much for reading!

Matt Reynolds,

Managing Director – Vitreous World