Research sponsored by BBC Magazines — which set out to challenge the ‘Middle Englanders' stereotype of its readers — claims to have identified a new group of ‘hidden influencers' who are shaping social and consumer changes.
The research found that the term ‘Middle Englanders' conjured up images of Daily Mail readers who were out of date and resistant to change.
The study, conducted by consultancies Your Future Ltd and BMRB, instead found a proportion of the population called ‘Big Britons', who were conscientious consumers holding positive values and a concern for the world around them.
Launching the research, BBC Magazines' managing director Peter Phippen said: "We were conscious in appealing to a mainstream audience that too often commentators, agencies and others were ascribing stereotypical views that we didn't think were accurate."
As well as driving key changes in society and dictating the fortunes of businesses and brand in the UK with £238 billion worth of spending power, the research found that Big Britons were more likely than the national average to read The Guardian than the Mail, and that 76 per cent of those surveyed relied on word of mouth, including through email or blogs, as the "best way to gain information about products and services".