Opinion

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Why mainstream brands shouldn’t ignore ethnic consumers

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With approximately seven million Asians and Afro Caribbeans living in the UK, it makes sense that they should be included in a company’s media campaign. So why is it that a large number of mainstream brands do not consider engaging with this vast consumer base?

Mainstream brands may assume that ethnic consumers aren’t interested in or can’t afford what they’re offering. But often this is based on stereotypes. Whether you represent a luxury brand or sell a product in a category with a little differentiation, it is important to do your research to understand the relationship ethnic consumers have with your brand.

Another reason companies may not target ethnic monitories is for fear of causing offence; they do not want to seem as though they are generalising or be perceived in the wrong way. Adverts that have caused offence in the past are usually through a lack of knowledge but with relevant research and these mistakes can easily be avoided. Often all you need is a tweak in your advertising in order for it to be relevant.

For these reasons, along with a lack of knowledge and resistance to additional work, it is possible that some media agencies have shied away from recommending ethnic media to their clients. But given the recent advances in ethnic media, such as the growing number of ethnic TV channels, radio stations and print publications, connecting with ethnic consumers has never been easier, or more important for brand exposure.

Ethnic minorities in the UK have a purchasing power of more than £300bn, a number which continues to rise. Some of the top Indian channels (Hindi language) have equivalent audiences to the top UK channels. Half of Asian TV viewing is to Asian channels, so a natural consequence is that Asians do not and cannot see mainstream ads as many times as non Asians. Furthermore, findings from Ofcom showed that local newspapers/radio stations are consumed as part of a strong community orientation. Therefore, mainstream brands not targeting ethnic audiences through the media they consume could be missing out on significant opportunities.

The ethnic population of Britain can no longer be ignored. Companies must not shy away from the unknown in fear of failing or losing money. When assessing the return of investment of ethnic targeted programmes, companies should not only consider the money needed to develop targeted approached but all the money you would be losing if you had not implemented them in the first place. The benefits of including ethnic consumers in a brand’s communication are apparent and should not be a wasted opportunity.

Jessie John is account manager of Mans Media

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