Whilst segmentation by traditional demographics tells us a lot it tends to focus on measuring how people behave. This data can be collected widely and all three main parties use it and other behavioural measures such as shopping habits to develop voter contact targeting. An example of this is Experian’s MOSAIC. However in order to look ahead it is also useful to seek to understand why people behave the way they do.
Lord Ashcroft, a leading funder of the UK Conservative Party, last week published a report on which groups that the party needed to reach out to. Instead of gender, ethnicity and occupational class, his report breaks down the electorate into 5 groups depending on the similarity of their outlook across a range of long-term attitudes. The aim being to understand political motivations. This has some similarities to values based segmentation which aims to cover the whole range of personal motivations.
In an article for a Conservative Party website he describes the 5 groups in the following way:
My research identifies five distinct segments within the voting public. Just under a third of the population are “Optimistic Individualists”. Broadly, they believe hard work rather than social factors determine success, want a limited role for the state, dislike redistribution, are optimistic for themselves and the country and value strong leadership over empathy. They account for two-thirds of current Tory support.
“Downbeat Dependants”, one in seven of the population, overwhelmingly vote Labour. In essence, they think their lives have got worse and will continue to do so, that success comes through connections not hard work, and that the government should meet people’s needs through higher taxes on the rich.
“Liberal Idealists”, another one in seven, also incline to Labour, and often describe themselves as working class, though many are university-educated professionals. Though personally optimistic, they tend to believe a person’s circumstances when young have as much influence as their talent on whether they will succeed. They have a positive view of immigration and want a more equal distribution of wealth.
It is clear from the way this segmentation has been constructed, through, for example, choice of questions, that it is specifically focused on how the Conservative Party engages with voters, but it nevertheless illustrates the usefulness of seeking to understand people’s motivations.
Other examples of this are the Searchlight Educational Trust Fear and Hope report on identity and immigration and the Hansard Society work on participation profiles. TCC itself uses Values Modes as it has not been designed for any one project, but is aimed to understand people’s motivations and values across the public policy sphere.
Having laid down the gauntlet to his own and the other parties on the way to understand what drives people, it will be interesting to see how they now respond.