Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

Insightful Corbyn/Cameron brand lens research article …exclusive to theMarketingblog

In recent months the political landscape has seen a drastic change, largely due to the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn. Storming into the Labour leadership with a 59.5% of first preference votes among party members, Corbyn beat four other Labour candidates to become the leader of the Labour party.

But what can we learn about Corbyn and his main rival David Cameron when viewed through a brand lens? Given the recent negativity around polling, we thought it would be interesting to look at political predictions in a different manner.

In order to measure this, we asked the general public to project the brands they most associate with Corbyn and Cameron across several categories to try and understand what the UK political scene looks like on a brand battlefield and how this is reflected in current market movements.

Alcoholic Beverages: A Battle of Trends

Of the alcohol brands and categories on the market, Cameron is largely associated with premium brands and categories such as:

  • Louis Roederer’s Cristal Champagne (34%)
  • Gordon’s Gin (32%)

Conversely, Jeremy Corbyn is more associated – although these are to a lesser extent than Cameron’s associations – with:

  • Stella Artois (29%)
  • Strongbow Cider (20%)
  • No alcoholic beverage (33%)

But how does this translate into real world behaviour? In 2015, the gin category breached £1bn in value in the UK – largely driven by younger buyers (42% of Brits aged 18-34 say they have drunk gin in the past 12 months). However, on the whole alcohol consumption is decreasing in the UK, with the number of adults stating they are teetotal having increased by 40% in the last decade.

Does this imply that Cameron can engage with the fledging millennial culture? Or does it reflect that that Corbyn-esque behaviour is a slow burning movement? Either way, the brand lens suggests both are on the rise.

However, consider this, given his famously sober nature, only 33% associate Corbyn with sobriety – do the above associations indicate a lack in how well he has communicated his personality to that end?

Automotive: Booming But Not British?

Cameron is predominately associated with premium automotive brands, namely Jaguar (35%) and Land Rover (24%). Yet his key association is with German brand Mercedes (33%) – suggestive of a confused national identity ideology. However, Corbyn is largely associated with non-premium brands such as Ford (31%) and Skoda (22%).

Ironically, nobody totally disassociated Corbyn with the category – ironic given his known preference for cycling – perhaps an indication of a lack of public knowledge around the Labour leader’s transport beliefs.

With Cameron’s strongest associations (Jaguar and Land Rover) experiencing growing UK market share between 2014 and 2015 vs. the decline of Ford and Skoda (Corbyn’s key automotive counterparts) can we suggest that the automotive lens puts Cameron as growing in strength vs. his red rival? What is clear is that there is a lack of alignment on character, whether it be nationality alignment or transport preference.

Grocery Retail: Association vs. Momentum

Within grocery retailers, the brand lens produces logical answers with Cameron being closely associated with Waitrose (65%) and M&S (54%). Conversely, Corbyn was more aligned vs. Aldi (30%) and Lidl (30%).

What is of significance is that the associations with Cameron are stronger – this indicates a stronger positioning of his image vs. the seeming less stable position of Corbyn.

This factor of the brand lens indicates that whilst the two are level pegging, it is Corbyn who is likely to supersede Cameron in the future due to increased momentum of value supermarket chains. But how valuable will momentum be with weakened associations?

So what does the brand lens tell us?

The first revealing point is that there is clearly a stronger acknowledgment of what the Cameron brand stands for in the eyes of the brand lens given the lack of knowledge around Corbyn’s real life behaviours and weaker associations across the three categories examined.

In terms of momentum, the two opposing political leaders are on parity – with equal momentum based on alcoholic beverage associations with Cameron claiming automotive momentum to Corbyn’s advantage in retail.

So, in terms of poll-esque-predictions, the brand lens suggest that despite a clearer identity, Cameron is still only at parity with his red rival – does this mean that his brand character, whilst clearer, is less endearing? All will be revealed on 7th May 2020.

By Shamvir Singh, Business Analytics, Northstar Research Partners

*Brand lens research based on a nationally representative sample of n=246.