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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