Kalpesh Patel, publisher of Asian Wealth Magazine, talks to Media Impact about his road into publishing,the campaigns he ran, and why Asian TV channels need to up their game.
Marketing and advertising is a field with both obstacles and potential in most sectors. Pulling big draw, luxury brands is a market that is full of riches yet rarely conquered by British Asian agencies, publications and TV channels. Kalpesh Patel, publisher of the glossy luxury Asian Wealth magazine, is someone who has managed to successfully work in that sector – and was the recent winner of Publication of the Year at the 2016 Asian Media Awards. Born, raised and educated in South London – where he still prefers to live today – Patel completed a marketing degree from North London University, having developed a passion for business and marketing.
Having grown up in a single parent home, the family experienced financial struggles – with his mother working in a factory whilst raising him and his brother.
“We had to help contribute by doing paper rounds – I did two paper rounds – one was delivering papers in the morning by myself and the other was helping my mum deliver two of the local free newspapers.” But he is not sad about his childhood. “Poverty builds opportunistic personalities. Being born and built from that era I saw many opportunities from a very young age.”
Events management At university Patel was involved in organising social events and even arranged gigs for celebrities such as Usher, Destiny’s Child.That began after he successfully, regularly sold tickets for student parties.
“This opened my eyes into how certain businesses worked and people worked. A group of us worked together to collectively bring over these major artists who at the time were still growingnot the super megastars as they are now. We would book venues, manage the event, sell tickets, and arrange security.” After university, Patel, along with two friends launched Mistique Events as an event production company. After a few years he made the decision to sell his share in the business and try something new, along with getting married and starting a family. With a degree in marketing and a passion for design, Patel entered the world of publishing and joined Informa Plc, a global publishing and business intelligence company.
“The sector I worked in was energy. As the advertising manager. This is where I cut my teeth in the publishing world and then in 2008 when the economic crisis hit, I decided to leave and set up on my own against the advice of many people. “People asked me why I was doing this when the global economy collapsed but at these times you need to have confidence in yourself and have to bank on yourself and your ability.” Publishing Having worked in the industry, he had a strong understanding of the oil and gas market, so decided to publish a magazine that covered a very niche area of the oil and gas industry.
The advantages included being the boss, but working hard, often late, as well as convincing clients they should be part of his new product. “As my competitors were pushing harder, and the economy was down, my strategy was to sell cheaper than my competitorsas a one-man band I was able to do that. The other companies had larger overheads to deal with.”
As a publisher and entrepreneur, part of what Patel did was to subscribe to other magazines to explore trends, designs and gather concept ideas.
As a point of interest he subscribed to business magazines – most of them American-based
such as Forbes, Fortune, etc. “I found was there was a big disconnect with the UK audience – things you could not relate to e.g. reference to an NFL footballer – a cultural disconnect.”
At the time he could not find any similar publication and decided to launch his own magazine.
“Very quickly I knew that I wanted to do something focused to Asians as it was my own culture. One thing I know which resonated with Asians is business and food.” Even though STM (his oil and gas magazine) was doing well, he wanted to branch out. “I was eager to launch something else until this concept came to me. I ran with the idea to do a business magazine for Asians. The concept was to launch a business magazine for first generation British Asians – Asians born or raised in the UK.” His research concluded with him launching Asian Wealth Magazine in 2012 – with the concept of a business magazine targeting this first generation British Asians and entrepreneurs.
Initially the commercial model would be advertising driven – Asian companies targeting the Asian market; but after launching he realised that wasn’t the case.The readership is made up of three categories: start-up businesses or anyone in business for up to three years; our main category- entrepreneurs, business professionals and businesses trading for three years or more; and business leaders and high net-worth individuals.
The magazine is aligned to people from the South Asian diaspora. The core focus is British Asians.
With its design, print quality and the calibre of interviewees, Asian Wealth became known as a luxury magazine positioned in a premium bracket. Following on from that, luxury brands who wanted to target the Asian market became interested in working with the
publication, as they had previously not had a platform which would resonate with their own brand and brand identity.
The Asian publishing sector needs to understand market trends, their readers and customers alike”
“Any successful business needs to encapsulate two things – keep customers happy and keep suppliers happy. We had a model where we provided great content, and more and more luxury and lifestyle brands showed more interest. They started spending money with the AWM brand.” Over the first couple of years he organically manoeuvred the business model to accommodate his clients. “It became an extra string to our bow. Even me being part of the target market I felt it was too business-heavy so we introduced luxury articles and content to soften the business heavy elements of the magazine.”
Asian publishing sector
But how confident is Patel about the Asian publishing sector? Is it maturing and doing its best to compete with mainstream? Asian publishing can be narrowed down to a few different industries – b2b and b2c. “If you look at the consumer publications – there is the wedding industry (which we don’t get involved in), then there is us. You also have tabloid publications and magazines targeted to the older generation. And the B2B publications are still very niche and developing.”
He said to succeed these days a lot of the Asian publications are run independently but he thinks they do have to change to connect and engage with a key sector of the population.
“The Asian publishing sector needs to understand market trends, their readers and customers alike and need to work with that. I am confident in changes and in the new generations. With a new mindset there could then be a big growth. They have to
adapt to change.” Patel thinks not only the Asian publishing sector but publishing as a whole has changed in the last 10 years, which has corresponded with marketing changes.
He says a decade ago it was enough for a brand to put an advert in a magazine and expect positive brand positioning, brand association and alliance, product positioning and a direct return from the advert. “With the growth of the internet and social media platforms, fewer barriers to entry have led to increased competition, and traditional publishing methods are becoming redundant. The concept of this change needs to be understood and engaged
with by both publishers and advertisers alike. Unfortunately
not everyone does.”
He said advertising is performing very well in the British Asian publishing sector but performing well in a different way; better in brand position and brand awareness as opposed to direct engagement.
“The longevity of some successful campaigns is what leads to advertising success and engagement and return on investment. How successful are ad methods? A good example is Porsche – we worked with them since year one and we have engaged with them on various levels to adopt a lifestyle campaign which works on different platforms.”
“The longevity of some successful campaigns is what leads to advertising success and engagement and return
The objective was to connect Porsche and the British Asian market – he wanted to be the catalyst to encourage British Asians to think, understand and be attracted to a brand like
Porsche as they have done with brands like Mercedes and BMW. “We have worked with Porsche to run ad campaigns, editorials, photoshoots, social media campaigns, events and direct engagement. The result of this is Porsche’s brand positioning and engagement with the British Asian market and ultimately sale of cars has increased.”
So how did Patel bring luxury brands, such as Porsche, to his magazine? He said this was a culmination of various aspects and elements. The concept of AWM needed to be strong from the outset,following on from this everything else needed to resonate at the same level, from the content, the design, the imagery, the social media, the delivery of everything. “We decided to position the magazine in a luxury premium bracket so everything we did needed to be executed at the same level. Which also means you must understand the luxury market, how they think, how they work and how you can immerse
yourself into that mix.”
Porsche along with other luxury brands already wanted to connect with the British Asian market, and Patel said he simply provided everything they wanted from a brand which resonates with their own positioning, connection to potential clients,
demographic and a great brand to work with. In addition to Porsche, over the past five years Patel has worked with brands such as Cartier, Patek Philippe, McLaren, Hublot,
Steinway & Sons, Chopard, Chivas Regal, Perrier Jouet, Absolut Vodka, KPMG, Coutts, Virgin Atlantic, Etihad Airways, and Oxfam.
“With most of these companies we have worked on an advertising model where they have run adverts in the magazines, but some of them we worked with on a campaign which spreads over numerous platforms from online, editorial, events and direct client engagement.”
Asian TV channels
Patel strongly believes Asian TV channels lack diversity. “When I say lack of diversity, I find there is nothing specifically targeted to the British Asian market, everything is tailored for
a specific demographic. The programmes seem to be very onedimensional with the same levels of dramatic videography, even to the level of advertising on the channels, you’ll find its Asian companies predominantly targeting the Asian market.” He suggests there is a lack of imagination, creativity and execution on Asian TV channels and the programmes aired in the UK, and this he believes is why there is a lack of mainstream companies advertising
on Asian TV channels. “By this I don’t just mean luxury; think about when was the last time you saw John Lewis run their Christmas adverts on any Asian TV channel? And with the amount they spend on their Christmas campaign you would think targeting the Asian market would be part of their marketing mix.
The question you must ask is, is this because John Lewis, along with other major brands, are not aware of Asian TV channels and who is exactly watching it or is it simply the channels are just not good enough?” He said there needs to be an improvement in the content – more topical, entertaining, thought provoking and specifically targeted to the first generation British Asian. “And by this I mean producing their programmes in Englishand of good quality.”
He pointed out that there have been some successful programmes recently aired on mainstream TV which has some association with the Asian diaspora like Romesh Ranganathan’s ‘Asian Provocateur’ comedy series or documentaries on Asia or Islam. “If programs like this were being aired on Asian TV channels and marketing correctly, then yes I would be watching more Asian TV channels.”
Patel firmly believes that the success of traditional marketing can only be adopted if both publication and advertiser are willing and open to break tradition and try different things. So, after the success he has had in publishing, would Patel consider working with TV channels in the future?
“Yes, I would consider working with TV channels in the future as long as it engages with the right people and the delivery is of the right calibre.” In the next five years he sees Asian Wealth as a global brand with various engagement models such as events, very strong online presence which includes web engagement and social media. “I would like Asian Wealth magazine to be positioned as the world’s number one Asian and business entrepreneurial media house. The idea would be to roll out the UK model globally.”