Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: In Pursuit of the Polish Pound

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: In Pursuit of the Polish Pound

Article excerpt

An influx of 600,000 Poles, with money to burn, presents a raft of opportunities for UK brands.

Lloyds TSB has become the latest company to target the growing Polish population in the UK, with the launch of an account aimed at migrant workers.

The Silver account offers customers a Visa debit card, European travel insurance, mobile-phone insurance, a money-transfer card and other benefits for pounds 2 a month to those who put a minimum of pounds 500 a month into the account.

More than 100,000 accounts were opened with Lloyds by Polish customers over the past year, according to Caroline Brady, the bank's head of segments. 'The expanding Polish community is having a major impact on the current account market,' she adds.

A glance at the statistics on these new arrivals, believed to total about 600,000, illustrates why they have become UK marketers' new best friends. Polish migrants, who have flooded into the country since the expansion of the European Union in 2004 have a disposable income of more than pounds 4bn a year, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, and government figures show that 82% are aged 18 to 34. 'It is a very attractive target segment. They are hard-working and have money to spend,' says Saad Saraf, chief executive of multicultural agency Media Reach.

The supermarkets, sensing an opportunity, have begun stocking Polish foods, while financial-services groups have been quick off the mark to set up initiatives targeting Poles.

HSBC was one of the forerunners when it launched its Passport account for immigrants, supported by Polish-language outdoor advertising. The bank now has Polish advisers in areas with high numbers of Poles and next month it will launch full-service 'pop-up branches' once a week at two Polish centres in London.

'It fits in with HSBC's proposition of being the world's local bank,' says David Walsh, who oversees the HSBC account at MindShare. 'It is about trying to be part of their community.'

There are even pushes targeting Poles in Poland who are planning to come to the UK. CultureCom, MediaCom's ethnic minority unit, has run campaigns in partnership with MediaCom.

Poland for its client NatWest. The agency's director, Sanjay Shabi, adds that services that people need straight away in a new country, such as banking and utilities, are set to benefit the most.

Eager to exploit the Poles' heavy involvement in the building trade, B&Q and Wickes have made efforts to employ Polish speakers, while low-cost airlines such as easyJet have promoted their increased number of flights to Poland. There are also opportunities for domestic travel firms, as Poles need to be able to get to where the work is.

UK-based Polish language media have also sprung up, offering brands the chance to target the community directly. Krzysztof Chowaniec, marketing manager of lifestyle magazine Cooltura, says all the major banks have advertised their financial products on its pages, such as mortgages and pre-paid credit cards, alongside insurance firms and lawyers. However, while O2 has run ads, other big-brand advertisers have been less quick off the mark.

Banks and supermarkets, particularly, could be missing a trick, as they can take advantage of their status as local retailers, which puts them in a better position than national brands to marshal resources in areas with high numbers of Polish immigrants. …

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