Winton, a small rural service town in New Zealand’s Deep South, has seen an influx of new residents in recent years.
They are farm workers and managers from the Philippines, brought in to fill a shortfall in workers on the region’s booming dairy farms.
For a region known for farmers of Scottish descent, it is a visual surprise if nothing else.
But there is another less obvious perspective: the media with which this community engages. The farm workers in Winton are just as likely to read Filipino Migrant News, as they are the local broadsheet, The Southland Times.
Martin Pouwels is Chief Executive Officer of Niche Media, a specialist communications agency which focuses on ‘ethnic’ media.
He said that over the past nine months advertising bookings, in ethnic media have increased 30% as corporates become aware of the latest independent research, commissioned by his company in conjunction with the New Zealand Government.
“These niche audiences are unchartered territory for many advertisers but with the insights from the research, we are seeing a growing awareness of the sheer size of ethnic communities and the buying power of those markets,” Pouwels said.
The Winton story is familiar throughout New Zealand’s dairying heartland.
Despite high levels of unemployment, dairy farmers cannot find enough skilled workers to meet current and projected labour needs. Many smaller, family owned and managed farms have been replaced by larger, corporate farms that depend on large numbers of hired, and often foreign, staff.
It is not just in dairy. Hardworking and entrepreneurial migrants are seen as playing an increasing role in New Zealand’s ‘rock star’ economic success and in developing exports.
ANZ New Zealand chief economist Cameron Bagrie said that New Zealand’s economy had entered growth mode, reflected in (among other things) strong net migration.
Statistics New Zealand’s figures for the year to November 30 shows New Zealand’s highest-ever net gain of 49,800 migrants driven by more arrivals and fewer departures of permanent and long-term migrants.
Asian communities in New Zealand have doubled in size since 2001, with 23% of Aucklanders now of Asian origin and the next Census is expected to show European Kiwi’s as the largest minority.
Increasingly, businesses are looking at ways to get to know these groups better.
That is where specialist ethnic media comes in.
“Most migrants feel more secure in their own communities,” says Eric Chuah, who heads ANZ’s International and Migrant Banking team, serving the migrant, international student and investor sectors. “Media and social media are pathways into those communities. Advertising is only part of the story – it’s about building a trusted presence in those communities and being part of the discussion.”
With so many migrant groups, tapping into those discussions is not straightforward. While these communities are well served by mainstream media, a large ethnic media industry is seen as providing a level of coverage and cultural context that the big papers and broadcast networks cannot match.
There are around 80 ethnic media companies covering radio, TV, print and digital. These businesses range from one-or-two person enterprises to companies that have an asset base of $30 million.
While mainstream media try to reach everybody (and don’t), ethnic media adopt a more targeted approach in reaching their own particular community.
For some, media is not their sole or even core business, but a part of a network of businesses that – often – provide immigration, real estate, legal and automotive services.
According to Pouwels, the advertising spend in this segment is between $18 million and $20 million a year. This compares with the estimated total ad spend of between $2.1 billion and $2.3 billion.
“The growth of the ethnic media market has historically not matched demographic changes. Much of that was due to companies not being aware of the influence of the ethnic media, and – to be honest – getting a clear picture of where to best invest ad dollars when many players are small and might communicate exclusively in a language other than English,” he said.
With migrant customers representing strong year-on-year growth for ANZ Retail and Business Banking, ANZ was one of the first corporates in New Zealand to allocate a proportion of its advertising budget to ethnic media.
It has been followed by car companies, telcos and education providers for who migrant customers are central to their businesses.
“The tide is turning,” says Pouwels. “Ethnic media are being factored into the marketing mix and those companies that are becoming more comfortable in these markets, are reaching new consumers and reaping the rewards of this.”
Stefan Herrick is Senior Manager (External Communications), Corporate Affairs at ANZ Bank based in Auckland. The views and opinions expressed in the above article are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.