The 3A market - Asian, African and Afro-Caribbean - should be a
marketer’s dream. However, despite having a young profile worth over
pounds 10 billion a year, few clients or agencies make any attempt to
Britain’s 3.2 million black and ethnic population is expected to double by
early next century. They have specific lifestyles and expectations which
need to be catered for, but it’s not happening.
It’s ironic because many of our leading multi-national companies and
organisations are committed to equal opportunities and are part of major
initiatives like Race for Opportunity. Most of them produce glossy
brochures underlining their commitment to equal opportunities and
multi-cultural marketing. Yet in-house PR and agencies alike take little
notice of this niche when it comes to putting marketing strategies into
PR needs to realise the aspirations and expectations of this market if
their clients are to be dynamic in their response.
The black community is becoming disillusioned with the tokenism of
declarations of equal opportunities and professed interest in the black
You only have to look at the ethnic press to see that growing
It is time for action, not words.
Some specialist ethnic PR agencies are being formed like Hothouse, which
specialise in multi-cultural marketing. However, there are no statistics
on how many representatives from the 3A group there are in PR and I get
the impression that there are not many.
While PR is always keen to use the black press for particular promotions,
in their general, segmented campaigns they rarely pay much attention to
the ethnic constituents of their audience. While there may be more people
now at account executive level concious of the 3A market, they are often
reporting to a generation which seems to have little conception of it.
Overseas companies are often more proactive in this respect. Akio Morita
of Sony has said that their corporate ambition is to ’think globally and
act locally’. At Nike, Michael Jordan fronts campaigns appealing to youth
on a global scale. But few people in PR in the UK seem to have firm grasp
of multi-cultural marketing and the diversity of their own market.
This means that many companies’ products and services are being bought by
default. They are chosen because there is nothing else which suits.
This is not a situation I would think that many companies would choose and
it’s a situation just waiting to be filled by proactive agencies with a
bit of nous.
Opportunities are by their nature of limited duration, and if you’re in at
the early stage you will always have an advantage over late entrants.
If PR agencies don’t grasp this soon they will fast lose touch with the
needs and interests of what could be a key market.
Multi-cultural marketing and globalisation will be some of the key factors
in promoting goods and services as we approach the 21st century. It is
essential to the issues of globalisation, market segmentation and regional
Proactive companies and experts in the field will benefit financially.
There are huge financial rewards for those companies willing to act.
Les Johnson is managing director of multicultural agency Equator and
organiser of Enterprise Focus 97, a recent exhibition and conference at
the Barbican Centre aimed at the 3A market.