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Insight into the UK’s Polish population

Insight into the UK’s Polish population

Migration is a complex global phenomenon, constantly changing and bringing with it new topics for debate, challenges and opportunities.

Arrivals from elsewhere have shaped much of modern Britain, especially in urban centres, and today’s increasing ethnic and cultural diversity remains a hugely influential factor in the marketplace.

Although immigration to the UK is nothing new, it is amongst the most contentious political issues – one of the three most important issues facing the UK according to recent opinion polls.

This article looks at the implications of recent immigration for brands and the marketplace, in a trend we’re calling Pole Position.

Background

Ethnic minorities make up 8 per cent of the UK population with net immigration to the UK in 2005 at 185,000; equivalent in size to the population of Portsmouth.

More long term migrants come from India than any other country, but this has been the case for decades and the market for Indian products is well established.

In contrast, 2005 was the first full year following the accession of the A8 group of central and eastern European countries to the EU.

A8 migrants accounted for 43 per cent of total immigration to the UK that year, with over 70 per cent coming from Poland.

Polish consumers in the UK are a largely homogenous market – in their twenties, working, and childless. Their migration is mostly for economic reasons, and, anecdotal evidence suggests, temporary.

The estimated 2,000,000 Poles now in the UK represent a good example of the country’s rapidly changing ethnic profile. With increasing global mobility will come yet further increases in migration and a more ethnically and culturally diverse marketplace.

A big influence

The tenth of UK residents who from an ethnic minority background continue to exert a distinct and profound influence on British society and culture.

Examples of this are all around us every day – the supermarket in particular is a brilliant illustration of how ethnic influences, through immigration as well as increased global travel, have changed our tastes.

Thirty years ago it was difficult to find an avocado on the high street, let alone lemongrass or sweet potatoes. In modern multicultural Britain, sushi or Thai curry for lunch is as easy to find and familiar as soup or a sandwich.

The rising affluence of the western world and growing desire for the exotic means we are adopting foreign imports with increasing speed, often adapting and creating hybrid versions to suit our own palate or style. Think past Bollywood trends in women’s fashion or ‘fusion’ cuisine.

Crossing over

Tesco claims to now carry more than 100 different lines of Polish food, which it says is the fastest growing ethnic-minority range it has ever launched.

Its growth is not just down to the hundreds of thousands of native Polish immigrants, but according to Tesco, is being driven by British consumers developing a taste for eastern European appetites.

Heinz is soon to introduce its Pudliszki brand of tinned and jarred food to the UK in an aim to secure its share of the Polish pound outside its domestic market. Polish beer is also thriving in the UK – brands such as Tyskie and Lech are sure to become as fashionable in bars, pubs and restaurants as other world beers.

What this example outlines is the dynamic change we see in consumer behaviour with the introduction of new tastes and cuisine, but it doesn’t need to end at the dinner table…films, music, art and literature are other areas which ethnic minorities have all influenced in the past and in the future we sure to see this sphere of influence extend into new areas and categories.

Specific groups have specific needs. For example, those 2,000,000 Polish consumers have no easy way of following Polish football, their national sport, in this country. For this massive group, ad hoc consumption without the leadership of brands, is ordinary, everyday stuff.

What this example outlines is the dynamic change we see in consumer behaviour with the introduction of new tastes and cuisine, but it doesn’t need to end at the dinner table…films, music, art and literature are other areas which ethnic minorities have all influenced in the past and in the future we sure to see this sphere of influence extend into new areas and categories.

Specific groups have specific needs. For example, those 2,000,000 Polish consumers have no easy way of following Polish football, their national sport, in this country. For this massive group, ad hoc consumption without the leadership of brands, is ordinary, everyday stuff.

So what does this all mean for brands? The ebb and flow of new cultures and ethnic influences means one thing – opportunity.

As the examples above illustrate, opportunity is not limited to the food category – established UK brands can grab a share of the Polish pound, and as Polish tastes become more familiar, of the non-Polish pound too.

Premier Food’s Sharwood’s brand is good example of just one British brand capturing the potential of new tastes in the UK, dominating the £288m Ambient Asian food market. Foreign brands moving into the UK market, alongside the change in traditional British tastes, undoubtedly pose a threat.

Entertainment/leisure, media, telecoms, household, leisure, travel, finance – opportunities exist in every category, arising from these new consumers and their capacity to change popular tastes – it’s a case of spotting, and exploiting, this potential.

Comments/Feedback? Please contact: Michael.Tully@omduk.com

AJR
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