Why multiculturalism becoming the new mainstream?

More people now live in urban cities and the composition of these towns and cities are becoming increasingly multicultural, resulting in more sophisticated, well-networked and demanding consumers who value service, experiences and attention.

If brands can’t communicate effectively to this changing demographic, they will find themselves losing market share in the UK.

Approximately 20% of the UK’s population is made up of individuals from multicultural backgrounds, including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, African, Caribbean, French, Spanish, Polish, Lithuanian, Roma, Arab and South African to name just a few.

This seemingly small figure however becomes a lot more significant when conservative estimates from calculate their spending power at more than £300 billion. If the trend is set to continue, being a multicultural marketing agency may be the new ‘mainstream’ agency.

However, during both the good and the bad times, they’ve always had a little money to spend. So why are more brands not speaking to them? That’s not to say that multicultural markets and the wider mainstream consumer markets don’t have anything in common; whether it’s property, food, drink, fashion, banking or lifestyle, they all aspire to something better and represent a share of the market place for brands. However, even after a torrential recession, the penny still hasn’t dropped for many marketers that they need a harder working and wider reaching, inclusive marketing mix.

Traditional mainstream media, although it works for a good portion of the market, doesn’t always translate well into other cultures and brands can lose any connection and relevance with a significant portion of the spending public.

Businesses can no longer afford to ignore Britain’s multicultural markets if they want to strategically grow and increase their market share. In fact, cultural media, community messaging and niche marketing is fast becoming the conduit of the advertisers’ in-the-know, who’ve already spotted the value for money and ROI that others are yet to cotton on to.

Spending 100% of your budget on 60% of the population In cities such as London where up to 40% of the population is made up from what is traditionally considered an ethnic background, diversity is what defines us.

The question then begs to be asked is: in post recession times where budgets are carefully set out and strategically allocated to render the highest possible returns, does it still make sense that brands are spending 100% of their marketing budget on reaching only an average of 60% of the population?

The same mainstream message does not fit all audiences and often, to reap maximum returns on advertising and PR investment, you have to speak to individual markets with messages they can relate to. Meeting niche and multicultural markets halfway can go a long way in securing new market share for your product or service. Brands like Asda, Rank Hovis, DFS and Vodaphone have started to see the significance of tailoring their services for ethnic and multicultural communities, which is a sign of the changing times.

Commercially speaking, targeting specific communities with specific products could greatly increase your profit margins without increasing your marketing budget. An example of this is the fact that most Afro-Caribbean and African women residing in Britain spend an average of six times the amount of money on hair and beauty products than their mainstream peers and yet very few beauty and hair product campaigns effectively reach out to this audience.

If the product suited the market and marketing budget was redistributed across this market segment this could mean higher return on investments for your company.

Playing it safe doesn’t serve your bottom line We say this tongue-in-cheek but it seems that many brand managers and marketers in Britain have too long been sitting in their ivory towers to realise the changing demographics of modern Britain. Every few years there is a courageous brand manager or marketer who steps out and sets the bar just a little higher than the rest, often with great success.

For the most part however, brand managers across the country aren’t willing to look beyond the same formula that they have been using for the past couple of years. Unfortunately, and especially in post recession Britain, the same old formula will no longer cut it with consumers.

Fast developing social networking sites, peer to peer information and an ever growing diverse demographic will no longer make allowances for the same old mass produced ‘one size fits all’ marketing campaign.

Even financial institutions are investigating alternative credit systems like Sharia finance for a better financial model to avoid another financial disaster. Brands may come to realize that prosperity in post recession Britain will depend on their ability to move with the culture and display open honest two-way communication with their customers.

Thinking outside the box and looking at options you’ve not considered before instead of playing it safe doesn’t have to be an uncalculated risk with dire prospects of failure.

Specialist agencies can make this a calculated, results driven strategic step to help brands grow and brand managers shine.