Media Redefined: Killing LSMs and getting back to reality
by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) In a year where every norm is being challenged, the number of moments of disbelief is rising. The marketing industry seems to have caught onto this.
I now read every news narrative, whether already discredited or from a ‘respected’ journalist, with a degree of cynicism, as the expectation is almost certain that it will be found to be untrue at some stage. Every angle on every story is now up for debate.
Everything is being tested
In marketing, everything is being tested, from clients challenging media-agency integrity to whether creative agencies should exist at alI and ideas should be brought in-house. And the effectiveness of digital advertising has become so debatable that it’s a struggle to find any credible arguments either way.
Locally, the huge developments in consumer and media research have rocked what now seems like a very naïve trust in longstanding data on which a lot of key decisions have been made. In the last year, I’ve sat in a lot of industry presentations where we’ve been told to forget everything we accepted before as it was, at worst, wrong and, at best, based on some very unstable fundamentals.
The good news at least is that the new BRCSA Establishment Survey (and no doubt the new [hopefully] revamped AMPS) has addressed these issues and there has been a necessary correcting of approach and an emphasis on the data truly reflecting the South African population.
The most-anticipated part of the recent Establishment Survey launch has been the relook at LSMs, one the most-successful segmentations ever done, if measured by take-up — but certainly not in terms of make-up. Ever since I entered the media world, the consensus seems to have been that LSMs were flawed but, every year, their usage seems to have been more-widespread. This was mostly because, in SA’s highly unequal society, they seemed to make the most sense when trying to understand the life stages, and therefore mindsets, across the population spectrum.
However, a fundamental problem was that they segmented based on “things you have”. The new SEMs are focused much more on “how you live” and that has cleared up the biggest issue — that aspiration existed across the LSM continuum and, therefore, so did a lot material possessions. And, inversely, sometimes less so in the higher LSMs.
Another big issue was the pyramid shape of LSM 1–10 when looked at by number of people. The overcrowding in the middle LSMs, particularly LSM 6, skewed any numbers that included these LSMs. The new SEMs are more or less even across the board and, if anything, rightly have higher numbers in the lower LSMs. They also allow targeting to start or end within an SEM, allowing for much tighter targeting.
Although it’s early days, and the data is not robust enough to be used yet (that will happen later this year), there is already a great deal more comfortability around how they’ve been structured. The sooner that LSMs die off and we get back to reality, the better.
Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) is managing director of Connect, an M&C Saatchi Company, with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Martin has spent 18 years in the industry, and has previously worked at Ogilvy and was MD of MEC Nota Bene in Cape Town. He contributes the monthly “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to MarkLives.com.