For more than a decade Marty Pouwels has dedicated his business life to helping businesses and organisations communicate with New Zealand’s ethnic populations. But even he was “blown away” by the results of his company Niche Media’s research, he says.
“Business people think that if they advertise in the Herald or pop an ad on mainstream television they are reaching the total population. But our research shows that’s not the case at all. In fact, the lack of reach in the mainstream media is staggering.”
Equally struck by the lack of reach of traditional media in today’s New Zealand is content marketing company BrandWorld, which has joined forces with Niche Media to offer its clients a way of reaching more of New Zealand’s population.
“Given the results of Niche Media’s research, marketers’ normal mechanisms targeting standard demographics such as ‘25 to 54 year-olds in Auckland’ simply don’t work as you’re effectively only reaching half of that audience using traditional avenues,” says Cameron Harper, BrandWorld’s business manager.
Pouwels commissioned Niche’s Media’s extensive survey into the media and media habits of our rapidly growing ethnic populations early last year. In what’s considered to be a New Zealand first, much of the research was conducted in the language of the people being interviewed. It was so extensive, the results were only collated, crunched and analysed a few months ago.
Pouwels admits initially he and his colleagues thought they were simply investing in research to prove something they already knew. “In a lot of situations that was the case, but the extent of the situation really blew us away. When you actually analysed how much information from companies and the government was actually getting through to these communities, it was very, very little.”
According to the 2013 census, the combined ethnic and Maori populations of New Zealand currently make up 34 percent of the population; this increases to 46 percent in Auckland, with the two fastest growing groups being Asian (growing at +3.4 percent a year) and Pacific (+2.4 percent).
Over 83,000 new immigrants have arrived in the past two years; 48,000 in Auckland alone, most without any knowledge of New Zealand brands, but needing to purchase a whole range of products and services from property, cars and whitegoods to banking, furniture, electronics and utilities, says Pouwels.
“Not only are the numbers of consumers huge by New Zealand standards, these ethnic markets are driving exports and growth in the New Zealand economy, because they understand the language and business culture in their home country and in New Zealand. They are also New Zealand’s fastest growing consumer group and have been for the last decade.”
Yet Niche Media’s research shows that for those Aucklanders who list Chinese as their ethnicity, 78 percent consume at least half of their total media in Chinese; while for Indians its 58 percent; Pacific Islanders 56 percent; and Koreans 78 percent. This need is catered for by about 80 different ethnic media companies operating in New Zealand covering radio, television, newspapers and digital/social media.
Take the burgeoning Chinese market, for example, says Pouwels. “They have multiple print publications ranging from monthly to six days a week, three main radio stations in both Mandarin and Cantonese, two Freeview television stations and eight subscription channels on the Sky Asia platform.”
Given the size, scope and reach of many of its clients, it was a no brainer for BrandWorld to join forces with Niche Media, says Harper. BrandWorld produces a number of well-known branded content formats for television and online, including Family Health Diary, Discover and the rurally-focused Field Trials, as well as bespoke offerings such as Wattie’s Food in a Minute, Fonterra’s Nourish and Lion’s Made to Match and The Mix.
“We’re a growing Kiwi company and we provide a service to other growing Kiwi companies which often want to reach as broad an audience as possible, as effectively as possible. Our expertise lies within the mainstream media and in crafting information that resonates with those audiences our clients want to reach.
“Niche Media’s research made us realise there was a whole wealth of audiences out there which we simply weren’t reaching as effectively as we could. So it made sense to us to join forces.”
Harper dismisses the view that ethnic audiences are only important to large corporates and government bodies. “They are important for all sizes of business. The more you get in now and get it right, the better it will be for your business as it expands and grows.
“They are all consumers. They all go to supermarkets, have their car serviced, buy coffees, but unlike the rest of us they are often a blank canvas, with no idea about any of the brands on offer; many of which are now household names to the rest of us. So it’s actually a really exciting opportunity for companies.”
Harper admitted that BrandWorld and Niche Media have already been involved in a couple of joint pitches since announcing they were joining forces “to offer a one-stop branded content shop” a couple of months ago, but wouldn’t elaborate further.
“Any decent-sized company or company that aspires to be a decent size that doesn’t have an ethnic strategy in place is going backwards fast,” says Pouwels. “It’s only a matter of time before someone more attuned to New Zealand’s evolving markets will come in and take their place.”
Lesley Springall is an Auckland-based freelance business journalist.
September 17, 2014