What makes ethnic minorities ‘hard to reach’?

27th July 2022

The need for authentic ethnic marketing is becoming more apparent to every brand as we all recognise the importance of inclusivity. It is no longer enough to include one person of colour in your campaign; inclusivity must be felt from the bottom to the top of an organisation. But how do brands engage those hard-to-reach audiences after years of misrepresentation in mainstream advertising? Within this blog, we will look at the barriers created by both brands and audiences and discuss how to break through to engage a wider audience. 

Are audiences really that ‘hard to reach’?

The answer is no. Your brand can reach any audience but must make the necessary adaptions as not all audiences behave similarly. Some groups will be easy to engage, whereas others require a little more work and dedication. But with the correct information, team and targeted campaigns, your brand can engage the hard-to-reach. 

As with any demographic, to engage them, you must understand what makes them tick. It just happens that the hard-to-reach have a more niche taste which is often uncatered for; therefore, over time, they have become desensitised and untrusting of large corporations. We often think of demographics as age, gender and income, with race and cultural heritage left behind. But if you ignore the racial and cultural aspects, you are missing out on subgroups. 

“No one is hard to reach, just more expensive to reach. It is important to put more effort and creativity in reaching these groups” – Paul Vittles.

As we know, the ethnic audience in the UK has an untapped spending power of £300bn. If brands could dedicate the time and resources to reaching these groups, they could profit from these audiences; only 1 in 5 brands are engaging. 

David Michael MBE emphasised that these communities are an “integral part of our community.” He elaborated, “They are not ‘hard to reach’, as they are ever-present in our communities and neighbourhoods. Brands must work harder to promote equity, diversity and inclusion within their organisation and towards their customers. But as we know, one cannot come without the other. When looking to engage the ‘hard to reach, it is equally essential to ensure that your company provides opportunities at all levels to minority groups, as they can provide a diverse outlook and detailed insight into the different ethnic communities. 

Hard to reach or unprepared to reach 

Whilst it is easy for a brand to send one message out and hope that the majority will see it and engage with your campaign, many minority groups will still be missing out. Although a national campaign will see a return from the mainstream consumers, you are pushing ethnic minority groups further away and creating a broader gap that will be harder to close as time goes on. 

Therefore, when creating national campaigns, it is essential to remember that different parts of the country will not respond as well as others. So, whilst in the creation stages, your brand should implement inclusive planning; it is worth considering targeted ads that are better suited to the different areas and will therefore see a higher return. For example, the ethnic population in the UK is around 15%, but in places such as London and Birmingham, it is much higher at about 44%. In these areas, your campaigns should be targeted to suit the needs and wants of consumers. 

Inclusive planning is often left as an afterthought and leaves little budget to reach ethnic minorities. Your brand should be more inclusive in your approach from the beginning of a campaign so that ethnic channels are not left to pick up the pieces with the remainder of your budget. By equally sharing the marketing spend to cover an inclusive approach, you will see a better reach and, therefore, a higher ROI.  

The old saying goes, ‘try to please everyone; you’ll end up pleasing no one, and this couldn’t be truer when we think about creating national campaigns. Of course, making a campaign with a one size fits all approach is impossible as that is not the case. It is far better to create campaigns with one theme, which can then be broken down into targeted ads that run at a lower level. By being more inclusive and localising your movements, your brand can reach wider audiences closing the ethnic gap. 

How to balance being content-centric v audience-centric 

Whilst the content of any campaign should always be the core of your marketing when reaching new audiences, it is not necessarily the best approach to take. Occasionally, your brand would be better suited to make the audience the centre of your campaign and revolve your content around this. Of course, your content will need to stay relevant and on-brand, but to reach new audiences, you may need to put this to one side. 

As with any demographic, the audience has different needs, tastes and wants, and at first glance, your brand may not have a product or service suitable for the said community you wish to reach. Therefore, it is our jobs as marketers to take an audience-centric approach and look at how we can alter the product or service we are promoting to suit those different needs, tastes and wants. For example, FMCG in the food sector often has a cultural focus and struggles to reach new audiences. So we ask ourselves, what barriers stop this audience from getting those products? To start, each community will have set behaviours. Suppose your product is not usually found within that community; it will be out of their comfort zone, so to engage these audiences, your brand will need to break down the barriers. Providing recipes that relate to the target audience or repurposing the product so that the audience can see where it would fit in their lifestyle will see a better level of engagement, as you are targeting the consumer and showing them that you understand them.

How do I engage the ‘hard to reach’?  

Ultimately your brand must dedicate the time and efforts to expanding its reach. If you’re ready to engage with the different ethnic minorities in the UK but do not yet have the resources to understand those audiences, look no further. Our experts will become an extension of your team and give you an insight into the underrepresented audiences. With over 5,000 community champions spread across the UK, we stay updated with the ever-changing needs, so we know how to engage audiences. 

Our mission is to encourage, educate and empower brands to connect with underrepresented communities across the UK. As it stands, only 1 in 5 people of ethnic background are targeted by brands in the UK; we are on a mission to improve this over the next 10 years and become champions for ethnicity, diversity and inclusion within the marketing industry. 

Contact the team today to help us tackle the lack of diversity and inclusion by running your next campaign with a team of ethnic marketing experts by your side. Email or call +44 2380 634283 today!

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