How to target ethnic communities in Australia and New Zealand

UMS General Manager New Zealand, Jordi Du share his thoughts on how companies can engage with different communities.


As companies increasingly seek better and more targeted ways to connect with people, marketing to ethnic communities is emerging as a strong trend in Australia and New Zealand.


Australia and New Zealand are two of the most multicultural countries in the world, which provides a raft of opportunities for companies to target products to different ethnic communities.


However, in order to establish a strong brand presence, companies first need to generate awareness of their brands and products. This is where marketing becomes incredibly important.


More than translation


Marketing to ethnic groups is not just about translation. Directly translating English communications can not only create confusing communications it can also misfire and result in culturally insensitive outcomes.


Companies need to demonstrate an understanding of the community they wish to connect with through their culture, values, and even their preferred technology and communication channels, in order to figure out the specific consumption behaviour.


We know that different ethnic communities prefer different technologies for example, Chinese and Indian are two communities which value family connections highly and therefore it is important to them to connect with extended family overseas.


However, the ways that they do this differ greatly. Chinese people will use WeChat to conduct video calls, whereas Indian people prefer phone calls. Insights like these are crucial for companies wishing to engage with ethnic communities.


Building trust within communities


If you want to convince a person – or a community – that you genuinely care about their needs demonstrating that you understand their culture is a really important way to build trust.


For many companies speaking to different communities in their own language is an easy way to do this. A number of brands have done this to great effect in Australia, like Telstra and Optus, and several kiwi organisations have also adopted this for direct marketing and communications. A high profile example of this was Australia’s Liberal Party which harnessed the power of WeChat to engage, and subsequently win votes from, Victoria’s Chinese community.


It’s not just speaking the same language though, showing an understanding of their consumption habits and knowing the ways people like to receive information, and their preferred communication channel, is also key.


For example, in China email has become obsolete with Chinese people opting for smartphone based communications. Chinese people don’t read emails, however they do engage heavily in social media, particularly on WeChat. They also prefer to read Chinese language websites and consumer Chinese language media.


For ethnic communities communicating in their first language is always easiest and makes the individual feel special. It also ensures your messaging is understood and eliminates any confusion.


Match the app to the community


Understanding what tools different communities use is an excellent way to engage ethnic communities. It is also incredibly important for ecommerce as these channels are increasingly interconnected.


Companies wishing to target Asian Aussies and Kiwis through Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp could come out empty handed with a number of other apps proving to be much more popular.


China’s most popular app is WeChat, the social media app which combines instant messaging, text and calls, with content, news, gaming, entertainment, digital payments and ecommerce. It has 938 million users worldwide. The average WeChat user spends more than 90 minutes on the app every day, which is much higher than Facebook, where the average user spends 60 minutes per day.


In Korea, Kakao Talk, is the dominant platform. A social media app which enables free texts and calls as well as content sharing and gaming. Kakao Talk is used by 93% of smartphone owners in South Korea but is also popular across Asia, particularly in Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is used in over 230 countries.


Line is Japan’s largest social network with more than 700 million users worldwide. The app features instant messaging, text, call and social features as well as gaming and ecommerce.


As these examples show it is a no brainer for organisations to utilise these platforms to deliver their message to audiences.


A connected world


Social apps are becoming the key drivers to sales channels, and as these apps increasingly have their own imbedded ecommerce platforms it is even more important that brands are aware and active in targeting communities.


Elements of this article were published by Fairfax Media