Do marketers Acknowledge the growth of the multicultural communities?
“It is time our industry acknowledged the growth of our multicultural communities and targeted this niche market,” says Saad Saraf, CEO, Media Reach.
Multiculturalism in the UK, especially London, is not a new phenomenon, but it is the biggest and fastest growing sector in the UK and it is high time that marketers and brand owners stopped overlooking this fact.
In terms of population, the number of BME (black and minority ethinc) groups is approaching 10% and in many cities they make up some 30-40% of the population. In terms of business, in London alone for example, there are 66,000 ethnic-owned businesses, employing 560,000 people and generating a combined sales turnover of £90 billion – and this doesn’t even include the 93,000 self-employed minority ethic people (LDA 2005). Alongside this business growth, is also a change in the make-up of the ethnic communities. They are younger, well educated, like branded goods, embrace luxury and essentially have more disposable income – in excess of £60 billion pounds in fact.
Despite this, it seems that an alarming percentage of marketers do not see any value in targeting the ethnic and multicultural audiences, or that they believe (wrongly) that their mainstream messages will reach them in the same desired ways. Marketers now need to learn to keep up with multicultural trends and how to communicate effectively with their target audiences.
Targeting the ethnic communities in the UK
It’s a well-documented fact that cultural groups and migrants usually turn to their own media for information and entertainment when they are in foreign countries.
Ethnic groups’ consumption of their own specialist media is high as it offers cultural familiarity, access to news and entertainment in their home language, extensive news from back home, as well as discussions and coverage of relevant issues facing the community.
On the other hand consumption of mainstream media is low due to lack of relevant programming, coupled with language barriers facing any new group or community (e.g. Asian, Polish, Chinese, Arab etc). The other point of contention between mainstream and ethnic media is that representation of ethnic people in mainstream media is low or in a secondary role.
Ethnic media in the UK has grown dramatically from eight titles 20 years ago to more than 56 TV stations, 24 radio channels and more than 180 titles which target the younger generations, as well as the gate keepers and influencers.
Multicultural groups embrace new technology and 61% have internet access which is higher than the mainstream average. In addition, cinemas that show Bollywood movies are extremely popular and tend to attract the younger crowd.
A recent Ofcom report into the ethnic communities found that in terms of usage and general competence, ethnic minority groups have higher levels of media literacy compared to the UK as a whole.
So in summary, my call to action is for our industry to move with the times by appealing to the wants and needs of a more diverse consumer society. Marketers must start to pay attention to the needs of these often hard to reach communities and this is where agencies with long-established relationships and a deep understanding of these communities’ needs will come to the forefront.
Saad Saraf is CEO of Media Reach
Media Reach is a fully integrated agency specialising in multicultural advertising, established 21 years ago. specialises is multi-cultural was established 21 years ago.