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Jam tomorrow?

22 November 2016 Jim Harrison,

Meet the people making ends meet, the Squeezed Middle of Alarm Clock Britain who drag themselves out of bed each morning and work to feed their families, yet have little left for life’s luxuries at the end of the day. It’s so much easier to brand them than it is to help them. These hard-working households, estimated at 6m UK families, are surely ambivalent to the monikers given to them by think tanks or politicians looking for an easy soundbite. The latest label for this demographic, the “Just About Managings” (or JAMs), does little more to highlight the challenges they face in their daily lives, nor the importance of their contribution to the economic well-being of the country. But it gets attention: “JAMs” is a lot more interesting than more obvious descriptors such as “Hardworking Households” or “Fighting Families”.

At Heavenly_Labs, we’re guilty of coining epithets too. When we conceived the Fizzy Living brand in 2012, a champion of affordable home rentals, we imagined it appealing to a group we dubbed the “rentysomethings”. It earned us exposure in the national media, and even a headline in the Economist, because it captured the imagination in what we call a penny drop moment; a little smile in the mind that adds charm to a potentially functional description of a target audience. By the time we launched a similar lifestyle proposition, for Urby in New York in 2016, the game had changed. The world was awash with millennials and “rentennials” was a natural derivative of this.

Brand-owners often focus on trying to create virtual clubs of consumers who adore their product or service. So, sometimes, classifying the audience can create pride and inclusivity for its members, as well as greater understanding for the rest of us.

The JAMs may not know who they are, nor much care what they’re called, but it’s great that the label has helped highlight their plight to the media. Here’s hoping that Mr Hammond’s Autumn Statement offers much-needed jam for them tomorrow.

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