There may be 12 days of Christmas, but there are more gifts to be found in the 12 waves of the QT – our proprietary tracking survey, which has now seen us track the state of the nation, alongside various topical trends, since November 2016.

Within the latest report we have looked into the nation’s feelings on Brexit in a post-Boris-as-PM world, attitudes to sustainability after the move by Zara to shed their ‘fast fashion’ tag, and into whether Brits really get product placement.

One of the most on-trend, overused but under-researched topics we put to the great British public this wave, however, was the dual force of .gifs and memes.

What is a meme? Broadly speaking, it is a captioned image intended to be humorous. They tend to poke fun at a cultural symbol or social idea. As a growing social currency for the millennial and Gen Z cohorts, we were intrigued to understand just how much the wider UK population actually buys into the concept of these visual communicative devices, and therefore whether they are something brands should be wholeheartedly throwing themselves into.

Firstly, only 16% of Brits claim they regularly share memes, but 24% claim that their friends regularly share them – so it seems its an activity where more are happy to lurk than participate.

For a whopping 51% of 18-24s, they feel that sometimes memes can be more effective than just words. Indeed, for  this cohort, 36% feel that memes are an important way of sharing culture.

Not everyone shares the love, with only 2% of the 65+ cohort claiming to share memes themselves. This doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate their use, and

actually fewer of them feel that memes are inappropriate in a professional environment, than those who spend their days using them.

Memes – and their partner in crime, .gifs – are a great opportunity for film, TV and music personalities to further spread their content far and wide. Gemma Collins’ new ITVBe show was announced with the statement “The Queen of Memes is back!”, and Facebook has subsequently been flooded in recent weeks with her unique facial expressions paired with hilarious captions.

ITV have previous form, having used their Love Island stars’ funniest moments to produce ‘official’ memes seeded out through social, helping their content infiltrate audiences who may have otherwise not watched the show, and their contestants’ best bits live on beyond the summer.

But what does this meme for other brands?

There is a captive audience for meme and .gif content, and this is largely the hard to reach and engage 18-34 group, with a specific heartland in young men.

Nonetheless, as with most internet phenomena, it is an area to tread carefully within.

Brands which have already jumped on the emoji and UGC bandwagons have been met with mixed reviews, and in the same way that no-one wants to wear the same jumper as their geography teacher, you can bet that ‘uncool’ brands trying to place in this space will be burned.

They may even find themselves the subject of their very own meme.