The multicultural consumer is your wife’


Debarshi Pandit,

is director of OMG Ethnic, the multicultural consultancy that works across all the Omnicom Media Group agencies. He shares his tips on how agencies can win over the diverse ethnic multicultural consumer.

It was a real honour to be invited to be a speaker at the recently concluded (18-20 April) Advertising Week Europe 2016 on Diversity in London. It was a definite eye-opener for those who are yet to see the potential of ethnic audiences – both in terms of recruitment as well as purchasing power. The challenge has always been to get an ‘ethnic targeting buy-in’ from all stakeholders. The majority of clients tend to think that they are reaching all audiences by placing their commercials in mainstream media, but that is far from the truth.

According to research by OMG Ethnic (a specialist service of Omnicom Media Group), we have found that 60% of ethnic audiences tend to lead ‘dual media lifestyles’ i.e. they watch the best of mainstream and the best of ethnic content. So unless the client’s advert is on ‘X Factor’ watched by millions in the country across ethnicities, the chances are that the advert has not maximised its ethnic reach. Given the dismal representation of BME groups within adland and probably client-side, we still have a long way to go – the time is ripe for us to take meaningful steps and ‘educate’ both agencies and clients. Only then shall we witness a true revolution in proactive ethnic targeting! I have outlined top 10 tips on how agencies as well as corporates, can win over the diverse ethnic multicultural consumer.

  1.  ‘Think Different’
    Mainstream audiences/research/data/robust information availabilit is starkly different to its multicultural counterpart and hence one must be open to working with this limited but insightful data rather than ignoring it/putting it on the back burner.
  2. Take the risk coz ‘I am Worth It’
    Don’t be afraid to take/let your agency take risks in reaching out to the multicultural market place. I often find that clients tend to procrastinate on doing the ‘right thing’ so much, that they don’t end up doing anything at all for the fear of getting it wrong – loss
    to the client, loss to the consumer.
  3. Respect
    To borrow a quote from David Ogilvy; ‘the (multicultural) consumer is your wife, not a moron’. Many times clients tend to overlook the fact that the multicultural consumer has their own wants/needs/desires/aspirations that are not very different to the mainstream audience – but all that they need is a little bit of respect in communications aimed at them. So avoid stereotypes!
  4. Don’t use lame excuses
    Often agencies/clients tend to hide behind frivolous excuses like lack of research, lack of data. It is advisable to try and work with what you have and the budget around it, rather than crib about what you don’t have access to.
  5. Engage
    It works better if you try and have a long term symbiotic relationship with the multicultural consumer all year round than just a one-off seasonal campaign – this will help build loyalty to your company’s brands/products/goods/services.
  6. Experiment
    Feel free to experiment with the best mediums that you think tend to work for your brand – online, TV, press, radio, outreach activity, etc. Each medium comes with its own strengths and it would be best to use them to your own advantage – try and make
    each medium accountable in whatever way they can.
  7.  Patience
    Don’t expect miracles in the first round of the campaign – try and be patient for the message to percolate down. Ethnic audiences do tend to take their own sweet time before indulging in taking any action – remember this is not a 100m dash but a marathon
  8. Understand dual media identity
    Majority of the multicultural audiences tend to lead dual media lifestyles – i.e. they tend to consume the best of mainstream and the best of ethnic media (a typical example being that they watch X Factor on ITV as well as watch X Factor India on Sony Entertainment Television Asia). This is also probably a reason why there are more than 70 ethnic TV channels and innumerable radio/ print publications in the UK media landscape today.
  9. Try and have an ethnic champion in the team
    Try and run the creative/media recommendations past the ‘Ethnic Champion’ in your team who understands and doesn’t merely pay lip service to multicultural communications. If not, try and hire an outside consultant.
  10. Learn from census 2011 findings
    The population of ethnic audiences has increased by over 50% compared to the previous census finding – this means that marketing communication messages in the future would definitely need to target this group Always remember the early bird catches the worm!


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