NEWS12 October 2012

IPA says marketing and media research need to reflect multicultural UK

Features UK

UK— Marketing still struggles to represent the multicultural diversity of the UK – but media research needs to up its game too, according to a new report by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

The report, which is based on academic and third-party research produced in the past five years, concentrates on “misconceptions” about the UK’s ethnic population – such as their spending habits and behaviour.

“Britain’s ethnic minorities are younger than the rest of the country, they are more urban, they are keener to buy and use new technology and their purchasing power is growing,’ says the report – and yet analysis by TV ad clearing house Clearcast found that only one in twenty ads made in 2011 featured ethnic minority actors.

“As the IPA Agency Census shows, staffing in marketing and advertising remains largely white; so for people not expert on the subtleties of reaching out to ethnic minorities, and not mandated to do so, the best thing to do is to steer clear altogether,” says the report. “And that is what many marketers do, not even featuring minorities in their campaigns.”

But a lack of research and accountability continues to detract from the value of ethnic media and marketing, say the authors.

“Independent desktop research such as NRS, Barb and Rajar work off ethnic sample sizes woefully short of the national average despite recent attempts by Barb to rebalance this,” according to the report. “With the endemic need for such research providers to approach potential sample candidates via randomly sourcing and to successfully recruit ethnic respondents who are willing to participate in such surveys, the industry is left with unreliable data that is far from robust.”

Saad Saraf, chairman of the IPA Ethnic Diversity Forum and IPA Councils, said: “We are gradually seeing a cultural change in terms of recruitment and portrayal which I find encouraging, as is the IPA programme to monitor ethnic representation in the industry and attract talent from people regardless of their ethnic or educational background. However this is still much more to be done and this report helps to make a strong case for marketers to take ethnic minority consumers more seriously.”

The full report is available to IPA members here.