The strength of the 'brown pound' - a term that signifies the growing economic cloud of Asians as entrepreneurs and consumers in Britain - is being largely ignored by major British brands in their marketing plans, says a new report.
The study commissioned by public relations major Weber Shandwick's specialist multicultural marketing division Multi-Cultural Communications (MCC) has found that ethnic minorities feel alienated by big brands.
Titled the Multi-Cultural Insight Study 2007, the study examined the impact brands had on ethnic minorities. The spending power of ethnic minorities in Britain is estimated to reach 32 billion pounds by 2010.
The study found that ethnic consumers in Britain often felt ignored, with at least one in two people from all ethnic groups, including the white population, believing that consumer brands often use ethnic faces in advertising as a token gesture.
This perception is particularly strong among the Black African (71 per cent), Chinese (68 per cent) and Indian communities (67 per cent).
At least three-quarters of Asian (77 per cent) and Black (78 per cent) people and half (50 per cent) of Chinese people in Britain are worried that mainstream brands have no relevance to them.
In addition, 75 per cent of Black, 63 per cent of Asian and 50 per cent of Chinese people believe consumer brands are not aware of how to market to individuals from ethnically diverse backgrounds.
The 2001 National Census found that 10 percent of UK's population was from a non-white ethnic group, with the three largest groups being Asian, Black and Chinese.
A third of the population of Inner London and a quarter of the population of Outer London are from ethnic minority groups.
Rakhee Vithlani, head of MCC, said: "As the UK becomes increasingly diverse, companies are steadily realising the opportunities of communicating to the multicultural market, but it is apparent that many still do not fully understand how to effectively tune in to the spending power of ethnic groups."
The study found that some major brands communicate well with ethnic groups in the country as part of their marketing, advertising and PR strategies. Tesco, Orange and BT have conducted specific campaigns and reaped brand equity and financial benefits.
Researchers found that Black and Asian consumers would be more inclined to purchase a product if they noticed it was advertised to multicultural consumers.
In some sectors, ethnic minority spending per head is significantly higher: for example, Black and Asian consumers spend 44 percent more on clothing on average per month than White consumers.
Four out of five Black, Asian and Chinese respondents agree religion and cultural background are important to them, with Black consumers in particular being very strongly inclined to admire celebrities in film, TV, music and sport from their own ethnic background.
Black respondents' most admired top three film, music, TV and sport celebrities are all of Black ethnic origin, and Asian respondents' most admired top three film celebrities are all of Asian ethnic origin.