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North v South divide revealed in ‘post-pandemic’ outdoor audiences

North v South divide revealed in ‘post-pandemic’ outdoor audiences

Trendy Londoners have returned to city centre shopping hotspots more quickly after Covid-19 lockdowns than equivalent demographics in Manchester, new research from outdoor agency Talon has revealed.

The independent agency’s Ada audience platform showed that “lively” neighbourhoods in London, such as Hackney, Dalston, Shoreditch and Peckham, have seen a 28% increase in “Trendsetter” outdoor audiences this year compared to the pre-pandemic period in 2020.

However, the equivalent audiences in Manchester are continuing to spend more time in residential areas, Talon found, suggested that more localised messaging would be appropriate.

The analysis showed a marked decline in so-called “convenience seekers”, whose city centre visits were down 78% in Manchester and down 42% in London, when comparing this year to 2020.

The agency has warned that audience behaviour and lifestyle changes have been “unpredictable” over the past couple of years and advertisers need to be aware of the impact that new patterns are having on media planning.

Luke Willbourn, chief client officer, at Talon, said: “Moving from the pandemic into further economic uncertainty has had a seismic impact on consumer behaviour…. What is clear from our research is that advertisers’ need to consider these emerging and varied behaviours when planning in order to run effective campaigns which truly capture the attention of the desired audience.”

The research, in collaboration with specialist city-centre outdoor agency Maximus, reviewed audience behaviours in the centres of London and Manchester pre pandemic (between January and Feruary 2020), during the pandemic (January-March 2021) and post-pandemic (January-March 2022). The results identified the differences in behaviours and how these have shifted across five “desirable audiences”.

How five ‘desirable audiences’ have changed in two years

Trendsetters: Overall, lively neighbourhoods in London such as Hackney, Dalston, Shoreditch and Peckham have seen a 28% increase in audience visits pre to post pandemic. However, in Manchester, this audience are continuing to spend more time in residential areas suggesting London Trendsetters have returned more quickly to city centre shopping hotspots and entertainment venues.

Convenience Seekers: Now spending substantially more of their time in residential areas so brands should consider more localised messaging. Analysis shows a marked decline in city centre visits between 2020-22 of -78% in Manchester and -42% in London, indicating a sustained shift in this audience’s behaviour.

Health & Fitness Fanatics: This group are consistently avoiding city centre journeys as visits have declined by over one third in both Manchester and London. Post-pandemic decisions and movements are based more locally, and they are opting for nearby gyms or local markets rather than travelling to city centres or larger public parks.

Luxury Lifestyle: Despite this audience visiting city centres more frequently during the pandemic, they have now declined by just over 60% vs 2020. This data indicates the evolving lifestyles amongst this affluent audience making the most of the emergence of hybrid working cultures.

Work Hard Play Hard: The data shows that this group remains active in city centres, with a marginal decrease in city centre visits compared to other audiences. In 2022, Manchester city-centre impressions are still +150% stronger than residential impressions reflecting a desire to get back to the office and reignite socialising.

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