Magazine article Marketing

Giving Asians a National Voice

Magazine article Marketing

Giving Asians a National Voice

Article excerpt

Harriet Marsh reports on why the Hinduja brothers want to give Asians a more mainstream media presence

Mainstream UK newspapers have traditionally struggled to incorporate a voice for ethnic minority groups into their editorial offering. But this could be about to change.

The billionaire Hinduja brothers, who are, at the time of writing, the favoured bidders for the Express Newspaper Group, are reported to be planning a special supplement targeting Britain's Asian community if their bid is successful.

Making The Express the national newspaper for Britain's Asian community, they believe, could boost sales by as much as 100,000 copies a day, which would equate to a boost in profits of [pound]1m.

According to Saad Saraf, managing director of ethnic ad agency Media Reach Advertising, whose clients include Tilda rice, the Navy and the Health Education Authority, the Asian consumption of mainstream newspaper titles is low -- below that of the Afro-Caribbean market.

So there would seem, on the surface, to be a gap in the market for a national newspaper with appeal to this fast-growing ethnic minority, whose cuisine, fashion and music is increasingly being incorporated into mainstream British life.

Poor circulation

But with no experience of the competitive media world, in particular the cut-throat newspaper market, a question mark remains over whether the Hindujas' sums add up.

The Asian newspaper market in the UK is hardly booming. Ethnic Media Group's two main newspapers, The Asian Times and Eastern Eye, probably the most mainstream of the 35-plus Asian print titles currently on sale in Britain, claim circulations of just 26,000 and 40,000 respectively.

"In this marketplace a circulation of 50,000 would make you market leader," says Dr Avtar Lit, chief executive of Sunrise Radio, the UK's most popular Asian radio station, which claims about half a million listeners across Britain daily.

And Lit is sceptical whether the Hinduja brothers' plan will bring much in terms of commercial reward. "Because there has not traditionally been a strong Asian press in the UK, the ownership of a newspaper may bring more in terms of political gain than it would in terms of commercial benefit," he says.

Lit's words are backed by experience. Sunrise has had several attempts at launching an Asian newspaper -- most recently The Asian--but has now abandoned the marketplace. "We thought that we could bring out a newspaper but although it met the circulation target, it couldn't find the advertising," he says.

While Asian media have traditionally been sustained by the Asian business community, mainstream advertisers, mainly the armed forces and the government, international telephony companies, and money transfer companies, have recently begun to appear.

Yet many advertisers continue to ignore the Asian market. Ian Tournes, group head at MediaCom TMB, who has bought space in Asian media for clients including BT and the COI, believes this is largely due to ignorance.

"Mainstream clients tend to stay away unless they have no choice," he says. "Because they have no experience of it, they are scared of getting it wrong."

Official figures are hard to come by, but estimates size the country's Asian community at up to six million -- and it is an affluent community. According to Emenike Pio, editor of Asian Times, Asian spending power is about [pound]10bn annually.

Anjna Raheja, managing director of ethnic marketing agency Media Moguls, who works with clients including the armed forces and the police, adds that this is a community with a large disposable income. …

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