LONDON: Few people in the UK feel they are well represented by brands, according to a new survey, which raises questions about the whole concept of brand purpose and marketers' understanding of their audiences.

A report by the Crispin Porter & Bogusky agency, based on a survey of 2,007 UK adults as part of a project looking at social identity, populism and brands in the UK, found that just 13% of respondents felt they were well represented by brands, Campaign reported.

"For all the talk of brand purpose, it is clear that while British consumers might care about brands having a positive impact on the world, for the vast majority it's not their world in question, and is thus inconsequential to them," the report said.

That will be news to a company like Unilever, which in 2010 launched its Sustainable Living Plan with the aim of "making sustainable living commonplace" and building brand equity for itself rather than its individual brands.

A case study for the Cannes Creative Effectiveness Lions – Why bring a child into this world? – concluded that this work had increased Unilever brand equity whilst gaining a halo effect on its products. CMO Keith Weed has insisted that it is perfectly possible to connect purpose to purchase.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky's research also suggested that the media, and tabloids especially, are out of touch with consumers.

Some 42% of respondents felt that tabloid newspapers do not represent them, while the comparable figures for broadcast media and broadsheet newspapers were 32% and 27% respectively.

Social media, however, scored more highly (49%) than the mainstream media (33%) when people were asked what organisations are "talking to people like me" – reflecting the much debated "filter bubbles" that have been evident in recent political upheavals.

The report argued that both political and brand communicators need to understand the influence of these imagined communities.

"Looking at the research, it seems reasonable to suggest that the 1% who steer things in this country – the government, tabloids, big brands – have never been more out of touch with the 99% who don't," said Richard Pinder, chief executive UK and international at CP&B.

Data sourced from Campaign; additional content by Warc staff