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Ethnic youth is redefining Gen Y for advertisers

Ethnic youth is redefining Gen Y for advertisers
Alison Tsang, Head of Insight at Manning Gottlieb OMD, shares findings from their groundbreaking new study into the UK's ethnic youth.

One in four of Gen Y is ethnic (i.e. Non White British), but what do we really know about them?

An overlooked, but rapidly growing audience, we set out on an ambitious project to put a spotlight on our 18-29 Ethnic Youth in the UK which has never been done before.

To really get under the skin of what they thought and how they behaved.

Filling a genuine knowledge gap in the industry and providing fresh insights which could inform future marketing and communications strategies.

What we found surprised us.

Although there are common characteristics which bond the whole of Gen Y together, there are definite differences between our Ethnic Youth and White British Youth.

And this is something which our Ethnic Youth really embrace.

They acknowledge the influence of their ethnic roots with 68% agreeing their ethnicity has been important in shaping who they are today and they embrace their ethnicities with 79% agreeing they are proud of their ethnic origin.

In fact, diversity is one of the best things about living in the UK, with all of our Ethnic Youth putting it in their top three best things about the UK.

Ethnic difference is something our Ethnic Youth recognise and celebrate.

So, this is something which we, as advertisers, should also embrace.

It’s about understanding and celebrating positive differences such as food, music, festivities, family life, different ways of socialising and communicating and dual cultural identities.

Ethnic Youth is a significant and exciting audience for advertisers who may not have considered their Gen Y target in this way before and a rich cultural identity is not the only thing which is interesting for advertisers.

Our Ethnic Youth within Gen Y are also driving key, new digital behaviours.

They are much more likely to be early adopters of the newer social media platforms with significantly higher usage of platforms such as Google+, Instagram, Vine and Tumblr. YouTube is another key channel with over half (54%) tuning in at least once a day compared with 35% of White British Youth.

The only exceptions are Twitter, which has similar usage, and Facebook, where our White British Youth are much more active.

Essentially it’s our Ethnic Youth who are driving usage of newer platforms, not our White British Youth.

How they use these platforms also differs with significantly more of our Ethnic Youth regularly creating and sharing content online.

These new digital channels allow our Ethnic Youth to indulge in their desire for creativity and sharing to great effect.

With creativity and content a core part of many brand campaigns, leveraging this aspiration to produce and share is a great way to engage this audience and boost that elusive, earned media share of voice.

Media is a way to create, communicate, connect and share.

It is central to our Ethnic Youth, who have larger networks, that they communicate more frequently with than White British Youth. 27% communicate with five or more friends on an average day compared with 16% of White British Youth.

This also applies to their family network with over one in five (22%) communicating with five or more family members on an average day compared with only 7% White British Youth.

Pair this with a bigger appetite for sharing their positive experiences with as many of their network as possible and think how much harder a brand reward mechanic, designed to share and create advocacy, could work if it engaged an Ethnic Youth audience.

Brand stories and messages could travel a lot faster and further. They are untapped producers, promoters, communicators and connectors. 

Our Ethnic Youth can be reached by intelligent use of mainstream media.

They consume the same amount, if not significantly more mainstream, everyday media, across all channels compared with White British Youth. Digital might be at the core of their media repertoire, but they are also avid consumers of all media.

For example, 70% of our Ethnic Youth regularly read a newspaper vs. 60% of White British Youth.

This means they are already consuming many of the key media brands we already use for our clients’ brands. This is likely to be news for our mainstream media owners and clients, many of whom may not have ever looked at this crucial Gen Y audience in this way.

This is just the beginning.

Essentially, our Ethnic Youth represent our future youth audience and, from a brand perspective, there’s still scope to make an impact. Ethnic Youth is not a saturated audience or concept.

Few brands are tapping into the wealth of opportunities out there unaware of, and lacking, any relevant and actionable intelligence on this audience. Until now.

Our insights from the study are designed to change this, providing stimulus to spark fresh, new business and communications ideas, with the rigour of the research behind it.

Alison Tsang is Head of Insight at Manning Gottlieb OMD.

Read what Senior Marketing Executive Leila Siddiqi learnt from our Diversity Day.

Explore what we also learnt this year with our influential report The New Britain.

Last updated 10/11/2014

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