Which party will Calm Persistence favour?

How we voted in 2010. My analysis: Wales definitely has the prettiest colour combo
How we voted in 2010. My analysis: Wales definitely has the prettiest colour combo

I was interested to hear on The World At One the other day about the voter segmentation Populus (who have advised the Conservatives) have been using: BBC on Populus voter segmentation. There’s a test on there so you can see which category you’re in.

The Populus segments are:

1. Comfortable Nostalgia: “They tend to be older, more traditional voters who dislike the social and cultural changes they see as altering Britain for the worse.”

2. Optimistic Contentment: “Confident, comfortable & usually on higher incomes they are prudent & tolerant but think Britain is a soft touch.”

3. Calm Persistence: “Often coping rather than comfortable, they hope rather than expect things to get better.”

4. Hard-Pressed Anxiety: “Pessimistic & insecure, these people want more help from government and resent competition for that help particularly from new-comers.”

5. Long-Term Despair: “Many are serial strugglers; angry & alienated they feel little or no stake in the country or that anyone stands up for them.”

6. Cosmopolitan Critics: “Generally younger, more secular and urban-based, worried about growing inequality & the general direction the country is going in.”

Thanks to Populus and the BBC for that.

It’s interesting, looking at the percentages in the BBC article, that the Calm Persistence segment is the biggest. I was recently involved in carrying out a big segmentation study for a financial services provider – complete with 5 minute ‘talking head’ films I made for each segment with the wonderful Bristol-based videographer Tim Crawley (I’m quite proud of those!). One of our segments was called Keep Calm And Carry On. We weren’t segmenting on political attitudes, but the segment appears very similar attitudinally to this Calm Persistence group that Populus’s analysis has identified.

There's nothing more British than Just getting on with it
Don’t get carried away … There’s nothing more British than just getting on with it

Everyone’s favourite bit of film, when we showed them to client audiences, was a retired teacher in the Keep Calm And Carry On segment. Comfortable on his sofa, he was thick-skinned, unflappable and, even though there was a lot of hard-bitten apathy there (and who could blame him), I really warmed to him during the interview. And when I went through our own segmentation algorithm on myself, guess what? I was in the Keep Calm And Carry On segment myself. In the Populus voter segmentation, though, I’m guessing I’ll be a Cosmopolitan Critic (which is slightly embarrassing, but then my job kind of wedges me quite solidly in there). I say “guessing” – there is so much interest in this stuff the ‘test yourself’ web link can’t cope at the moment. Such high online traffic is not an issue Strangers On The Shore has ever had to face, but I cater for a select band of crack elite time wasters on here …

How to impress the Calm Persisters will be a big part of the challenge for party strategists over the next year. Let me tell you, it ain’t going to be easy – good luck with that!


Published by Simon Riley

Qualitative researcher in the UK. I listen to people from all walks of life and think about what it all means. I work for leading brands, media companies and government.

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