How the segments differ
- There are several demographic, political and awareness trends across the five segments
- Ideological alignment plays a role in support for R&D investment, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient for that support
The three segments which were most receptive to messages and arguments about R&D (the Ideologically Aligned, Future Focussed and Present Focussed) were also those with the greatest levels of prior awareness and engagement with R&D. For these segments, prior awareness of the phrase “R&D” was over 60%, compared to under 20% for other two segments.
When we look at the various ways that people could engage with R&D we find that people in these three segments, and particularly the Ideologically Aligned group, tend to have more extensive engagement with R&D than others.
There are some exceptions to this trend; Future Focussed people tend to have a more muted response to specifically new discoveries and are less likely than Issue Driven people to talk about new discoveries with their friends and family. However, the segmentation generally reveals that a significant portion of the public are highly disconnected from R&D and would be challenging to reach with a campaign.
Initial resistance to taxpayer funding of R&D tends to be concentrated among the Issue Driven and Ideologically Conflicted, where 36% and 41% respectively agree that R&D should not be funded by taxpayers.
To some extent, the segmentation reflects a sliding scale of awareness and support for R&D investment. Where we have previously found demographic relationships with R&D awareness and support, these too tend to move linearly across the segments.
While this is a useful heuristic to interpret the segments, it is not a consistent rule. The Future Focussed and Present Focussed segments, for example, are very similar on measures including awareness and support for investment in R&D, but different on others such as politics. We also find a notable exception among the Future Focussed group when it comes to new discoveries, with this segment tending to be some of the least engaged and aware of new discoveries in daily life.
Ideological stances, particularly around the prioritisation of future or present issues, were a key part of this attitudinal segmentation. Segments which prefer to prioritise immediate and UK-focussed problems tend to be those most inclined to oppose R&D investment.
But the segmentation illustrates a key exception to this in the Present Focussed group, who have an ideological preference for focussing on the UK and the present-day, but also initially feel that R&D should be funded by taxpayers, and after hearing various arguments show high levels of support for increasing R&D investment (46% support an increase, only 7% want a decrease).
Further, even at the “extreme” ends with the Ideologically Aligned and Conflicted groups, we do not find total support or total opposition. While the Ideologically Aligned are consistently the most supportive of Government investment in R&D, a fifth are neutral or agree that taxpayer money should not fund R&D at the start of the survey. After hearing arguments for R&D, only 22% of the Ideologically Conflicted would decrease Government investment in R&D, with a plurality opting to keep levels as they are now (45%) or expressing uncertainty (24%).
This also came across in focus groups where participants were placed into the segments on the basis of a short pre-focus group questionnaire. While some segment groups aligned with expectations, particularly on awareness levels, there were numerous exceptions. These included Ideologically Aligned participants expressing concern about future-focussed R&D investment, and Ideologically Conflicted participants expressing strong support for R&D investment.