Ethnic minority groups in the UK are not being marketed to effectively by business says a new report on Ethnic Diversity published today (Monday) by Britain's Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

The report, which is intended to raise awareness of ethnic issues within the marketing communications industry, says that ethnic minority communities are a powerful economic group that must be engaged by UK business.

In an interpretation of the government’s 2001 census, the IPA report highlights:

• Ethnic minority communities have grown by over 50% since the last census in 1991, whereas the ‘white’ community has seen a drop in numbers;

• 7.9% of the UK population is of ethnic minority origin, in London this rises to 31%;

• The combined disposable wealth of this group is estimated at some £32 billion;

• Agencies still too often don’t think about the ethnic minority market unless they are given an ‘ethnic brief’;

• Ethnic minority communities have a younger age profile;

• They are more technically adept: 72% of the UK South Asian community live in pay TV homes compared to only 39% of the population as a whole; 74% of South Asians have a mobile phone compared to 69% of the total UK population; 70% own a personal computer (vs 50% of the UK population); 57% have access to the internet at home (vs 47% of UK population); 46% own a DVD player (vs 30% of UK population);

• Ethnic minorities respond to media in the social frameworks of their culture. The South Asian community alone has eighteen dedicated TV channels, six commercial radio stations and an ever growing number of English language and print titles and websites all looking at second and third generation Asians. Similarly the Black media network is growing, targeting the aspirational African and Caribbean communities.

Says TBWA’s Jonathan Mildenhall, co-chairman of the IPA’s Ethnic Diversity Project: “The economic contribution that ethic minorities make to the UK's overall performance is huge [but] few companies even consider the potential incremental value of bespoke marketing programmes targeting ethnic minorities. The advertising industry must take the lead here. Otherwise, how will our clients ever realise the full potential return of their marketing investment?”

The IPA also called on the industry to sell itself harder to attract more ethnic minority employees. According to the IPA census only 4% of the marketing communications industry’s staff come from ethnic minorities, of which 70% are in support disciplines such as IT and Finance.

Data sourced from: IPA Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff