Archive for September, 2009

September 26, 2009

Target The Growing Multicultural Market in the UK

If there was a challenge to marketing directors, agencies, government departments and the creative industry today is how to engage this ever increasing diverse multi cultural society of ours.

With the minority ethnic population figures growing to 12% nationally, the picture in certain metropoles such as London, Leicester the ethnic communities are more than a third of the population as a whole.

So why do we need to look at this niche market;

* Disposable income in excess of £90 Billion
* 40% of London population are from ethnic communities
* 320 languages are spoken in London
* 1/3 of businesses in London are owned and run by ethnic
* The food sector is dominated by ethnic food and restaurants
* Strong dependence on own media (TV, Radio, Press, Digital & Cinema)
* Multicultural marketing is good for companies in the UK and abroad
* More than 2 million Eastern European have come to the UK over the past year
* The UK is destined to receive 1.2 million people from Bulgaria & Romania over the next 18 months
* The demography in London is changing beyond recognition and brands must change their tactics and marketing approach

The disposable income of the minority ethnic communities is put at £90 Billion Pounds and members of the community aspire to a better status and to the ownership of luxury brands (Cars, Electronic Consumables, Watches, large Property)

Minority ethnic people are loyal to their roots and cultural heritage. They love their food, music, films and television.
(Asian cinema halls are seeing a revival with gate receipts overtaking that of mainstream cinema complexes).

The basic rule therefore is to understand this diverse multicultural audience and to address their needs and market to them but above all we need to listen to what they want to see , view and hear rather than imposing our thoughts on them which has resulted in driving them away from mainstream art and culture.

People of ethnic background are aspirational and value education and status highly, they seek careers such as Doctor, Pharmacist, IT professionals, Banking and Management.
More than 50% of the population are under 25 years old (a youthful audiences)

Most of the people from the ethnic origins are religiously sensitive and culturally conscious. Therefore, they react/ respond differently to generic communication messages. But they do have needs and requirements: to get them interested we need to understand and appreciate their culture and traditions in our work/drives.

Conventional and traditional communication channels are not enough to capture “ Hard to Reach Communities”. Other marketing communication means such as outreach need to be utilized.

I am intrigued to see ethnic events such as Mela’s, Carinvals, fashion events, Music are able to attract tens of thousands of people ready to spend and to be entertained, in fact some of these events attracts hundreds of thousands of minority ethnic audiences while mainstream art establishments fails to draw a handful of people.

So what are you doing wrong?

Above all what seems to be lacking is an understanding of the audiences, most marketers I have spoken to, can not tell were a typical minority ethnic person in streets come from , what languages do they speak and what religious background they belong to. Some confessed that every Black person they describe as Caribbean and every brown as an Asian.

I am also bemused as to the insensitivity of some of commissioners and marketers to our needs and requirements. I find myself strangely enough drawn to the Arabic media and television more than the usual bland 5 channels I am offered and being forced to pay even when I spend very little time watching them.

I tend to find the editorial content does not cater for and represent me and at times offends my culture and traditions.(sometimes I must admit I never thought I will do shield my children from such content).

In today’s fragmented and increasingly turbulent markets, ethnic marketing offers a new strategic focus for product/market development and, in many respects, companies which ignore this do so at their own competitive peril.

Companies wishing to do business with ethnic minority groups need to review the basic premises of their marketing plans to take account of the growing market pluralism and the multi-ethnic reality of modern Britain.

This presents a tricky challenge to marketers, as marketing to them is not as simple as it would seem. The ethnic population in Britain is very diverse, not only in the different nationalities and races they represent, but also in terms of culture, attitude, lifestyle, behaviour.

Therefore, they respond to marketing / communication messages very differently from the mainstream. What works for the mainstream market doesn’t necessarily work for the ethnic consumer, as the triggers and hooks would be quite different. Not to mention the language barriers and difficulties that exist, especially within the early settlers and new immigrants.

The complexities are even more intriguing when you have to consider the differences that exist between each ethnic community, as they come from varying backgrounds. Cultural and religious sensitivities come into play, along with traditional values and beliefs, nationalistic feelings, political influences, and more. This makes the marketers role even tougher.

For instance, within South Asian communities, the disparity between Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis is huge, despite the fact that they come from the same sub-continent.

There are differences in language, religion, food habits, festivals, attire etc. On the other hand, similarities exist in the way they live, where the family is the most important social unit, the concept of large joint family where grandparents, parents, brothers, children all live together as opposed to the westernized nuclear family system.

Within South Asian, Afro-Caribbean and Chinese communities, community networks are very strong, and community leaders as well as religious leaders play an important and influential role in opinion forming and changing behaviour.

Due to the language barriers, especially amongst women, older generations and certain new immigrants, these community tend to rely on their own media / ethnic media channels and community networks for information and entertainment, which is evident from the plethora of ethnic TV stations, radio stations and print publications that have burgeoned over the last 10 years in Britain.

Mainstream clients most of the time seem to be obsessed with ticking boxes and paying lip service when it comes to targeting our communities properly. This lack of attention is being picked up be members of the minority ethnic communities who are reciprocating in kind by not reacting to the clients inadequate communications.

Mainstream media under delivers, due to high dependence on ethnic media among the first and second generations. The irrelevance of programs offered by terrestrial television have further pushed the ethnic audiences away.

These reasons has driven audiences to migrate from mainstream media to the ethnic ones which are witnessing a boom.

Saad Saraf
CEO
Media Reach Advertising
http://www.mediareach.co.uk

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September 26, 2009

Diversity Works for London?

Diversity is the differences we all have and what makes us all unique in one way or another.

We differ in terms of ethnicity, gender, culture, national or regional origins, socio economic status, religion and political views, marital status, disability and sexual orientation.

Respecting individual differences leads to an increased prod-activity and creates and increases the marketing opportunity; broaden our horizons as well as increasing adaptability and flexibility for the overall society.

On the other hand if diversity is not handled correctly it can cause tensions between people within organisations and hence have negative impact on the business and almost likely to result in poor performance.

In today’s Internet age organisations cannot create a false image of themselves and on how caring they are to staff. Disgruntled and badly treated staff will inform the whole world about the organisation real treatment to staff on internet sites which will have articles and even films describing what goes on in an organisation.

We must acknowledge, understand these differences, accept them and celebrate all these differences amongst people and staff.
We should understand the various cultures that exist in the UK today and perhaps see them as an opportunity to target an important niche in a caring yet innovative way.

We must understand that cultures do not remain static; they evolve over time and are influenced by exposure to others from around the globe. Whenever different communities come together things happen and the wheel of change starts moving.

How did Diversity change Britain?

The disposable income of the multicultural communities in the UK are in excess of £90 billion pounds and to tap into these diverse groups companies and organisations must make an effort to understand the diverse cultures and lifestyles.

Major developments have happened in the UK in the past 15 years which had influenced our eating habits, furnishing, fashion to name but a few.

Most of the UK’s music icons and sport stars tend to come from a variety of diverse backgrounds.

The Bollywood film industry is grossing huge amount of money with more multiplexes devoting more of their cinema showing Bollywood films (research shows that Asians are 5 times more likely to visit cinemas and see Indian movies than the mainstream.

Our eating habits have changed beyond recognition as we now eat different foods everyday such as Indian, Chinese, and Italian & Lebanese. The ready to eat ethnic food market is growing at a phenomenon pace with sales in excess of £3 Billion pounds.

The restaurant sector has its major share of success with more than 100,000 restaurants in the UK owned by ethnic people taking in excess of £14 Billion pounds.

So lets talk about ethnicity

The ethnic population in the UK currently exceeds the entire population of Scotland and it is anticipated that by 2012 the population size will exceed the entire population of both Scotland & Wales.

The majority of Londoners in 2012 will be of an ethnic background (51%).
In organisations people make the difference and each person is unique and part of the team, we must enjoy and encourage the understanding of different people to evolve a work culture based on mutual appreciation.

The buying patterns of the ethnic communities differ from that of the mainstream as ethnic and multicultural groups buy in bulk and in large sizes and hence the purchasing power of an ethnic family on foods can be as much as double that of a mainstream English family. This has led a number of supermarket chains to stock ethnic foods and the difference is clear as the shelves are stocked with large sizes.

These changes are bound to affect the way we market to these groups and communities in the future as the traditional marketing methods are no longer valid and can result to huge wastage of client’s precious budgets.

Targeting niche markets and audience clusters are bound to result in effective result driven marketing and will lead to a bigger slice of the market share for dynamic and leading brands.

Saad Saraf
CEO
Media Reach Advertising
http://www.mediareach.co.uk

September 26, 2009

The UK market is changing.. Are you?

The UK is changing. We’re living longer, getting more technologically advanced and most importantly, living in a diverse society. Is this important? We think it is. We’re talking about multicultural marketing. Most people translate that to mean ethnic minorities, but that isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the case. What is culture? Cultures do not remain static. They change and evolve over time and are influenced by exposure to others from around the globe. And that’s what’s happening to the UK today. All cultures are evolving together, influencing one another. We now make a mosaic society – shimmering tiles of various colours, pieced together to create a masterpiece – the UK. Ignore one, and the picture is incomplete. Some people think it’s just a phase. Others think it’s getting harder to communicate to an increasingly diversified market. We think otherwise. A challenge? Yes. Impossible? Not a chance.
Saad Saraf
CEO
Mediareach Advertising http://www.mediareach.co.uk

September 26, 2009

How to reach ethnic minorities

By Saad Al-Saraf (pictured), founder and CEO of the UK first ethnic and multicultural advertising agency, Media Reach Advertising

One of the most important weapons in the marketer’s armoury is information about their customers.

It’s an asset that many marketing departments are willing to spend thousands of pounds acquiring, to help them understand the best way of reaching potential and existing customers, and which marketing messages will be the most powerful way of communicating the benefits of whatever it is they’re selling.

Yet many of the marketers I speak to can’t tell where a typical person from an ethnic minority comes from, what languages they speak or what religious background they come from.

I’ve even met people who have admitted to me that they describe all black people as Caribbean and all people with brown skin as an Asian.

Although this bemuses me rather than offends me, I also find it a poor state of affairs given the fact that in the UK, the community of people from ethnic minorities has a disposable income in excess of £60bn.

In the greater London, with its population of more than 10m, 40 per cent come from ethnic communities and one-third of businesses are owned and run by someone from an ethnic minority.

Why does this matter to you and the way you do your job?

A wealth of reasons. People from ethnic backgrounds are aspirational and value education and status highly. They seek out careers in medicine, banking, IT and management.

They aspire to better status and to the ownership of luxury brands, cars, electronic consumables, watches, property and so forth.

Furthermore, it is a young market, with more than 50 per cent of the population aged under 25, and it is a market where people are loyal to their roots and cultural heritage, and often are religiously sensitive and culturally conscious.

Therefore, this market responds differently to generic communication messages to the mainstream audience.

But they do have their needs and desires – and £90bn to spend on them.

In today’s fragmented and increasingly turbulent markets, ethnic marketing offers a new strategic focus for product and market development.

I think companies which ignore this do so at their own competitive peril. People from ethnic minorities are already becoming immune to blanket messages that are not tailored to their sensitivities.

With the number of people from ethnic minorities living in Britain only on the rise, pretending that homogeneous marketing campaigns are still the most effective way for marketers to do their jobs is shortsighted.

For those who choose not to ignore this growing market, there is a tricky challenge – marketing to ethnic communities is not as simple as it might seem.

For the ethnic population in Britain is very diverse and different groups respond to the marketing messages they receive not only in a different way from the mainstream, but also differently from each other.

For example, among the people originating from South Asia – Indians Pakistanis and Bangladeshis – there are huge cultural disparities. There are differences in language, religion, food habits, festivals, clothing and so on.

Yet there are similarities in the way they live, where the family is the most important social unit, and with the concept of large joint families, where grandparents, parents, brothers and children all live together, instead of the Western concept of a nuclear family.

What can marketers do?

Reaching these audiences isn’t always easy. Due to the language barriers, especially for women, older generations and some newer immigrants, there is a shift away from mainstream media – which can often be irrelevant at best, and can offend culture and traditions at worst – and a reliance on ethnic media channels and community networks for information and entertainment.

This is evident from the plethora of ethnic TV stations, radio stations and print publications that have burgeoned in the last 10 years in Britain.

It’s not enough just to run your ad campaigns in the ethnic media though – cultural decoding and language translation are not the same thing.

Instead, stop seeing ethnic marketing as a box to be checked, and start paying attention to targeting our communities properly. Forget about tokenistic gestures: start thinking ethnic and don’t simply translate.

The basic rule is to understand a diverse, multicultural audience, and address their needs.

But above all, listen to what they want to see, what they want to view and what they want to hear, rather than imposing on them what you think they want to hear.

It might sound like an intimidating prospect, but it isn’t.

There are experts out there who can help guide marketers through the maze of ethnic media and cultural sensitivities, and who have contacts with community and religious leaders who play such an important and influential role in opinion forming and changing behaviour in communities of South Asian, Afro-Caribbean and Chinese people.

And what could have you got to lose? At best, you could be uncovering untapped customers for your company.

And all you’ve got to lose is your ignorance about the people who make up 11 per cent of the population of the country where you live.

Saad Saraf
CEO
Mediareach Advertising
http://www.mediareach.co.uk

September 24, 2009

UK Creative Industries – a white wash!

I went to Iraq for the opportunity of winning a communications contract. I knew there had been uproar that American companies had won majority of the construction contracts in Iraq following the war. Out of those that lost out, I did wonder, how many of them stopped to realise the real reason for this. What I observed was that the American government had recognised the need to have key personal that were representative of the Iraqi market. They sent over American Iraqis, who understood not only the work that needed to be carried out but also the culture. They realised the need and the advantage of having representatives with localised understanding in a global market place and have benefited from the strength of having a diverse workforce.

The same cannot be said for creative industries in the UK. The Creative Industries are a significant contributor to the UK economy – accounting for 7.9% of GDP, and growing significantly faster than the economy as a whole. UK creative industries deservedly enjoy a global reputation for excellence, creativity and innovation. British design, advertising, music and interactive leisure software companies are considered to be world-class. The question is, will it last?

Many people have spoken about how broadcasting is “hideously white, male and middle class”. This statement is also true for other sectors that fall under the creative industries banner. The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s report on Ethnic Diversity in the UK revealed, unsurprisingly, that ethnic minorities make up 4% of the advertising workforce – with most being positions of support services, such as IT and finance.

The UK creative industries workforce does not reflect the Ethnic diversity of the market they are targeting, largely due to the lack of realisation of the benefits diversity brings. There have been half-hearted attempts relating to recruiting a more ethnically diverse workforce, which can be summed up as reactive, knee-jerk reactions. It therefore comes as no surprise that the UK creative industries are facing a challenge from overseas. Countries such as America, India & China are continuing to enter this market and are meeting the needs of British consumers & businesses which UK based companies are overlooking. There needs to be a more strategic approach, which is not even existent on a government level.

So what should creative industries do to remain world class?
• WAKE UP
• Embrace multiculturalism by recruiting from a wider talent pool
• Engage, harness and train talent in the UK from Ethnic communities be that Indian or Polish
• Enjoy multiculturalism and highlight key role models from ethnic backgrounds

Today Bollywood is a multi-billion-pound industry outstripping Hollywood in ticket sales. Bollywood realised the marketing potential for their movies to both the British Asians and the wider UK community and stepped up their activity here in the UK. That’s not all, they have taken British born talent like, Upen Patel from Wembley and made him one of the top Bollywood stars and a household name in most Asian homes in the UK. Why then, can we not do the same? Why can’t we embrace, engage and enjoy the great pool of talent we have here, to achieve success both locally and globally!

And for those of you who are wondering what happened to the contract that my company went for in Iraq. Well I can tell you that, yes we won the account for our knowledge and experience but also for the fact that as a British Iraqi I had cultural understanding.

Saad Saraf, CEO, Media Reach Advertising
http://www.mediareach.co.uk

September 24, 2009

10 Steps you need to take before choosing an effective ethnic & multicultural advertising and communications agency.

1. Professional Competence
The agency must demonstrate high levels of professional competence in the eyes of their peers, clients and suppliers.

2. Professional Development
The agency is committed to the development of outstanding staff talent through qualifications, craft skills training and Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

3. Market Leaders
The agency should be a proven leaders and have comprehensive knowledge in the ethnic and multicultural market. Check the history of the agency and the campaign work they have done

4. Information and Intelligence
The agency should have access to data, statistics and case studies to share with the client. Look at their case studies and check the quality of their work

5. Accreditation
Check if agency is accredited by any professional advertising bodies. Accredited agencies receive expert advice to ensure their work is legally and regulatory compliant.

6. Research the Agency
Read about the agency and ask their clients for references

7. Proven Effectiveness
As a client you must insist on evaluation, ROI and value for money and check if agency have won any awards.

8. Chemistry
Meet the teams and look at the staff and agency capabilities

9. Financial Stability
The agency must demonstrate financial stability and it is the client duty to check their financial situation to ascertain their strength

10. ISBA Recommended
ISBA, the voice of British advertisers,recommends IPA member agencies

Saad Saraf
CEO
Media Reach Advertising
http://www.mediareach.co.uk

September 24, 2009

Communicating with the UK’s Multicultural communities

Communicating with the UK’s Multicultural communities
September 6, 2009 by alsaraf
During this economic downturn, you would think that everyone would be clambering about looking for new opportunities, with clients demanding for more effective, intelligent and cost efficient solutions that deliver results like never before. And yet, the industry continues to respond towards this growing niche by assuming that generic solutions are communicating to all.

Ethnic marketing and media is as important as mainstream marketing and media and in some ways can be more important. It’s got nothing to do with tokenism but has everything to do with customer segmentation and understanding your audience. It’s a point that’s not very well understood by many public relations and marketing professionals. Yet ethnic marketing is growing in importance for many mainstream brand owners.

With the minority ethnic population figures growing to 10%,
(Average household size twice the mainstream average) and in certain cities such as London, Birmingham & Leicester the ethnic communities are a third of the population as a whole.

Research has shown that not only are ethnic minorities hardworking and inspirational, they are also economically powerful. In 2007, LDA research stated that the disposable income for ethnic minorities was valued at £100billion.

Ethnic minorities are brand conscious and loyal and are willing to fork out a lot of money for it. They are 3 times more likely to buy a BMW and 2 times more likely for a Mercedes. They are early adopters and keen purchasers of high-tech products. One in three Black and Asian respondents (33% & 32% respectively) identify Nike as one of the brands they buy most often, compared to only 20% of White respondents. Black women spend 6 times more on hair care products than white women.

Britain’s main’s multicultural communities come from around 120 countries and speak more than 320 languages and dialects in London alone.

People of ethnic background are aspirational and value education and status highly; they seek careers such as Doctor, Pharmacist, IT professionals, Banking and Management.

Most of the people from the ethnic origins are religiously sensitive and culturally conscious. Therefore, they react/ respond differently to generic communication messages. But they do have needs and requirements: to get them interested we need to understand and appreciate their culture and traditions in our work/drives.

Conventional and traditional communication channels are not enough to capture “ Hard to Reach Communities”. Other marketing communication means such as outreach need to be utilized.

Ethnic events such as Mela’s, Carnivals, sport events, Music are able to attract tens of thousands of people ready to spend and be entertained, in fact some of these events attracts hundreds of thousands of minority ethnic audiences.

So what are you doing wrong?

Above all what seems to be lacking is an understanding of the audiences, most marketers would not know much about their multicultural customers, what languages do they speak and what religious background they belong to.

Companies wishing to do business with ethnic minority groups need to review the basic premise of their marketing plans to take account of the growing market pluralism and the multi-ethnic reality of modern Britain.

Multicultural groups respond to marketing / communication messages differently from the mainstream. What works for the mainstream market doesn’t necessarily work for the ethnic consumer, as the triggers and hooks would be quite different? Not to mention the language barriers and difficulties that exists, especially within the early settlers and new immigrants.

For instance, within South Asian communities, the disparity between Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis is huge, despite the fact that they come from the same sub-continent. There are differences in language, religion, food habits, festivals, attire etc. On the other hand, similarities exist in the way they live, where the family is the most important social unit, the concept of large joint family where grandparents, parents, brothers, children all live together as opposed to the westernized nuclear family system.

Within South Asian, Afro-Caribbean and Chinese communities, community networks are very strong, and community leaders as well as religious leaders play an important and influential role in opinion forming and changing behavior.

Due to the language barriers, especially amongst women, older generations and certain new immigrants, these communities tend to rely on their own media / ethnic media channels and community networks for information and entertainment, which is evident from the plethora of ethnic TV stations, radio stations and print publications that have burgeoned over the last 10 years in Britain.

The UK is now truly a multicultural country, and will continue to flourish in the face of diversity. If we don’t recognise that people are different we are not going to get anywhere. Businesses is about engaging people and more so in the current financial downturn. We’ve got too many products and too few customers. When people have a choice and prices are falling, that’s when marketing mavericks look at segmentation and precision marketing. The industry needs to quicken its pace to catch up with the changing face of the new society, or risk getting left behind. Not only do we need to accept it, we need to understand and embrace it.

• Mainstream media under delivers, due to high dependence on ethnic media among the first and second generations.
• Mainstream advertisers need to address ethnic sensitivity and not as tokenism gestures. It is significant to think ethnic, not simply translate.
• Multicultural groups are becoming immune to blanking messages. They desire a personalised message with cultural relevance
• You need culture decoding rather than language translation

Saad Saraf
Mediareach Advertising
http://www.mediareach.co.uk