Who are the Brits buying books from Waterstones?

YouGov
February 19, 2021, 11:12 AM UTC

Waterstones customers are more likely to speak a second language than other book buyers

With Amazon.com announcing a 44% increase in net sales in the fourth quarter of 2020 and British bookshops still closed, it feels like a tough time for high street booksellers. But with half of all Brits (51%) saying that they bought at least one book in the past year, there can still be room for online and high street retailers to co-exist. Although the vast majority of our book-buyers (67%) purchased a book from Amazon, one in five (19%) chose to buy from Waterstones.

So what, if anything, sets these book-buyers apart?

According to YouGov data, Waterstones customers appear more likely (36%) than other book buyers (28%) to be without children and between the ages of 18 and 45 – perhaps as a result of having more time to browse. On the other hand, those aged 46 or over and retired are slightly less likely to shop at Waterstones (23% vs 27%)

On further examination, it appears that Waterstone’s customers are also more likely to speak a second language (57%) than other book buyers (49%). French is the most commonly spoken second language by this group (18%) and this percentage is significantly higher than amongst other book buyers (12%) and the general public (10%).

The linguistic difference between Waterstones customers and other book buyers is also mirrored by a divergence in general interests. In fact, customers of the British book retailer may be more interested in international news (48%) and politics (44%) than other book buyers (36% and 31% respectively). Meanwhile, interest in beauty (15%) and celebrities (24%) ranks higher amongst other book buyers than with Waterstones customers (12% and 22% respectively).

This data was collected using YouGov Profiles, which offers businesses access tohundreds of thousands of demographic, psychographic, attitudinal and behavioral consumer metrics.