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Real Lives, Real Issues #8: Post-EU Referendum


In the latest installment of our topical research project we visited Cardiff to speak to young people (aged 18-30) about their sense of identity and prospects for the future – a future outside the EU.

You can tell there’s a lot of pride in being Welsh but it’s not easy to define what it means to people. Having a language that’s different to the rest of the UK aids a sense of identity, but very few people actually speak it now – only 19% nationwide (source: ONS). It’s not commonly heard in Cardiff, the capital.

People find that it’s much more convenient to identify with each other through sport, particularly with the nation’s favourite, rugby union. This also affords an opportunity to differentiate against the English, who despite being Wales’ rivals on the rugby field, proclaim football as their national sport.

But for many, participation in big national events does not extend much beyond the sporting arena. Turnout has not breached the 50% mark in any of the five Welsh Assembly elections.

Cardiff and its surrounding area dominate the Welsh economy, contributing 20% of its gross value added (GVA), compared to only 15% of its population (source: StatsWales). It draws young people in from other, less affluent parts of Wales. We spoke to Anthony, who originates from west Wales and Coral, from the Valleys.

But even Cardiff still struggles to provide enough opportunities for everyone’s ambitions.

With all interviewees, there was genuine surprise at the result of the EU referendum, even among those who voted to leave.

There’s definitely an uncertainty about the future.

Unlike Scotland, there seems to be very little support for independence.

But much can still be done to improve Wales and the lives of its people. To engender favourability, Welsh and non-Welsh companies alike need to support community projects in Wales. This is particularly true in west Wales and the Valleys, which have the lowest GDP per head in the UK (source: EU). There are real opportunities for brands to win new advocates by improving lives and offering certainty in these uncertain times.

So, what does this mean for you?

The atmosphere in Wales is highly unsettled following the EU Referendum. Millennials are questioning the future. However, there is a real sense of togetherness through a shared heritage and through sport, something that brands could benefit from. Being in tune with different communities throughout Wales is an important consideration. There are areas in the country that are struggling with employment and opportunities. This has a negative impact on people’s expenditure, particularly among the young. Brands need to be aware of regional differences when advertising to the Welsh audience and focus on helping local communities where possible.

To find out more about Real Lives, Real Issues, and how and why they matter for your brands, please contact Ben Haley, Head of Insight at Initiative. As for the ongoing impact of Brexit, let’s watch closely. Ben.Haley@initiative.com