LONDON: Many brands are missing out on sales by failing to promote themselves through the UK's growing number of ethnic media channels, new research has found.

The New Britain, a report from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), builds on the trade body's earlier Multicultural Britain study to further examine the spending habits of the UK's black and minority ethnic (BME) population.

This audience, it said, would be 60% more likely to buy a product or service if it were advertised in their media. The IPA expressed concern that many mainstream companies were not taking advantage of this "increasingly dynamic" channel.

Further, BME groups were turning towards media created specifically for them. South Asian audiences, for example, now had 56 TV channels available to them, virtually all free-to-air services. And The New Britain reported that 77% of British Asians surveyed felt mainstream advertising had no relevance to them.

"We are seeing more product development within the digital sphere, a continuing rise in different types of TV stations and the evolution of broadcasted content addressing the needs and interests of British-based ethnic groups." said Sanjay Shabi, MediaCom's Head of CultureCom and one of the authors of the report.

At a time when the UK's minority ethnic population has grown to more than eight million, or 13% of the total, and is forecast to double over the next 30 years, mainstream brands cannot afford to ignore this development.

The picture is further clouded, however, by the changing profile of the country's BME population, with Poles, Romanians, Lithuanians, Arabs, Chinese and Filipinos adding to a settled Afro-Caribbean and Asian population.

IPA Director General Paul Bainsfair noted that "this presents not only challenges but also great opportunities for advertisers and marketers" who needed "to communicate in a more relevant and effective way".

The report also sought to debunk some marketing myths about ethnic minorities. For example, the idea they don't spend as much as their white counterparts was belied by the fact that British Indian men had an average higher income than the average white Briton.

Nor did they behave in the same way in terms of media consumption, since only 18% of ethnic minorities in Britain solely watched mainstream TV, while 16% only watched ethnic programming.

And, despite the many differences between the groups, it was possible to target them effectively, said the report, as much ethnic media could now be packaged and bundled together for centralised media buying.

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff