It would be fair to say that 2016 has been a tumultuous year, politically, socially, economically and otherwise.
Here at the7stars we found that there was a sincere desire from clients to better understand the mood of the nation, and so we conducted a series of surveys in summer 2016 to cover the Brexit pre-amble, fall-out and the implications up on spending behaviours over the coming months.
In the immediate aftermath we saw that 30% of Brits were less positive about holidaying in Europe, and 1 in 10 saw their house buying plans as affected.
As events progressed, alongside feedback and reaction from clients, it lead us to realise there was a real need to monitor these topics on a more consistent basis, rather than just as a reaction to a key political event.
Enter: The QT.
November 2016 saw the first wave of The QT – Lightbox’s brand new proprietary consumer tracking study. Working with respected and award-winning fieldwork agency Populus Data Solutions, we interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1000 Brits. The survey covered five core topics, consistent with metrics asked in the summer months. To give us greater breadth and depth of coverage we boosted this to cover ten more topics each wave – flexible to suit the needs and interests of the7stars’ clients and prospects.
In a research first, we followed up with a week-long Facebook Messenger community with 20 Brits, where we spoke to them about everything from Christmas ads to bathroom moments, gleaning a deeper insight and relationship with these consumers. Using this platform allowed us to speak to consumers in a place they felt comfortable, in language that felt human, and in a way which ensured they shared with us as much as they could – the good, the bad and the ugly.
So what did we find out?
The majority of Brits actually feel no different in terms of their disposable income than they did this time last year. Only 29% claimed they were less comfortable than in winter 2015. This aligned with their general happiness. 1 in 3 said they were happier than they were in this time last year – fuelled by 18-24s, and those in London and Scotland. 1 in 4 said they were less happy, mainly being those 65+, or living in Eastern England.
This happiness seems to correlate with household income. Those earning over £40k were much more likely to be happier than in 2015 than those on lower incomes.
Which categories are they spending more or less on?
As of November, it looks like the experience economy is still of great importance to Brits. 62% will continue to spend on eating out or takeaways. Categories such as travel saw continued desire to spend – people would rather holiday on a lower budget than not holiday at all.
18-24s are leading the charge on intention to spend. For those whose holidays have been affected, 1 in 3 will spend their next trip in Britain, 1 in 4 will reduce the budget of their European trip, and 1 in 5 will take more short breaks.
Physical experiences proved popular for the festive season too. 1 in 5 Brits will buy theatre or concert tickets as a gift, and the same proportion will buy an experience (i.e. afternoon tea, brewery tour, restaurant trip etc) for a loved one. 18-44s are most likely to gift these items.
What also saw was a marked move away from white goods, consumer electronics and gadgets. These seem to be areas where consumers are happy to ‘make do’ rather than refresh.
What’s next?
The next wave of The QT will run in early February 2017. For more information on the study, or to add a question please contact Frances.Revel@the7stars.co.uk

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