Introducing FCB Open

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Murray Streets (General Manager Integrated Strategy) and Vera Dong (Strategy Partner, FCB Open) argue that the abundance of media to reach new Chinese and Indian New Zealanders cannot replace the power of insight to drive effective work.

In 2015, Auckland Council asked the Balmoral Business Association to consider becoming Auckland’s Chinatown – a seemingly reasonable request given 51% of the businesses along Balmoral’s Dominion Road are Chinese-owned, and visibly so to anyone passing through the area. Surprisingly, perhaps, the Balmoral Business Association politely declined. Though there was a strong Chinese presence in the area, Chinese business owners didn’t want to be singled out and labelled. A survey of local shoppers echoed their views.

This episode reminds us that ethnic identity is far more complex than Auckland’s eager town planners anticipated.

The term “New New Zealanders” has been around for more than a decade. Businesses have often talked to its significance as something that’s about to happen, but it already has. Since 2012, there’s been a significant rise in immigration to New Zealand. This has driven the super-diversity of Auckland, especially, as a city where over 40% of inhabitants were born outside of New Zealand. 1 in 10 of Auckland’s population identify as being of Chinese ethnicity. Census forecasts predict that the number of Chinese New Zealanders, the largest Asian population, will rise to 316,000 by 2023.

This growth has created more than its fair share of political debate and policy. We see the headlines and we’re aware of the statistics, if not the detail. The sustained strength of our economy, our need for specialist skills, and the strength of our country brand have all attracted overseas migrants to settle here.

In the advertising industry, much discussion about the diversity dividend has focused on how brands can grow value and market share by providing functional help and emotional benefits that are relevant to diverse groups of people. However, to achieve this, businesses must first investigate, analyze, and master in-depth knowledge and key insights

Mai Chen, Chair of Superdiversity Centre for Law, Policy and Business, sums this up as follows:

New Zealand can become world beaters not just in rugby but also in our cultural capability to maximise the economic and social benefits of being one of the most ethnically superdiverse countries in the OECD.

“Cultural capability” is, indeed, a noble goal, but it’s one that presents many more questions for marketers:

– What are the specific motivations behind different behaviours?
– What is instead a universal need, common to all in New Zealand?
– What are the meaningful differences?
– In fact, do these groups want to be marketed to differently at all?

At FCB Open, we’ve been working with New Chinese and Indian New Zealanders to answer these questions.

There’s certainly no lack of media channels and opportunities to reach these communities, with specialist agencies and media buying agencies easily able to buy space and impressions to connect them with your brand.

But there is real risk in putting channels before thought. Brands should resist the urge to set up WeChat, sponsor cultural festivals, or advertise in the Chinese Herald. In the context of Chinese New Year, especially, this approach results in what we term “lantern-washing”, where lanterns adorn advertising and collateral across categories for two to three weeks, then disappear. Translating your advertising into different languages and placing these in targeted channels also won’t cut it over the long-term. Presence is a start, but leadership comes from insight.

For FCB Open, the story of marketing to New Aucklanders remains the story of marketing at its best. The discipline of market sizing, setting objectives and measures, identifying insights and developing a strategy to deliver effective work remain essential.

From our research, we’d advise clients embrace the following principles to ensure you produce as effective a strategy as possible.

Understand cultural context
Appreciating cultural values and understanding how they influence behaviors can yield new perspectives. A shared value may produce very different expressions across cultures.

For instance, in Kiwi culture, independence is a core theme. We often seek this in our twenties, when it is common for younger New Zealanders to head off on their overseas experiences. But for Indian and Chinese New Zealanders, independence is framed differently. Gaining independence and coming of age also means providing for your family. Sons assume the role of paterfamilias, in place of his father; daughters take their mother’s role. This is driven by a strong sense of filial piety, and an obligation to protect and look after parents.

For these individuals, independence is about having the means and resources to provide for others. The pursuit of a career, the desire to earn, save and set-up homes often happen earlier than among other Kiwis. The implication? These customers will be younger and savvier than you’re expecting. Independence also fosters a powerful sense of interdependence among multigenerational households and family members, even when they don’t live together – quite unlike the nuclear family of the West.

Get up close and personal
Extensive, robust quantitative research on the media preferences of these individuals is hard to find. The cultural nuances you need to inform effective channel strategy can’t be found in Nielson CMI. The 2018 Census data will provide a much-needed update to the forecasts predicted back in 2013.

This presents an opportunity to embrace in-depth discussion and ethnographic research to get a better understanding on the total context of New New Zealanders’ lives. A home visit, with two hours in-depth conversations covering many aspects of their new life here and how they perceive and interact with brands, products and services, can reveal actionable insights and cultural nuances that help marketers to avoid missteps.

Seek common ground
By moving to New Zealand, Indian and Chinese migrants have bought into Brand New Zealand. They are attracted to precisely the same aspects of our lifestyle that make us so proud. Access to natural environment, our sense of fairness, education and work-life balance.

However, there’s a lot for them to learn as they set up home, get established, and seek ways to embrace being Kiwi. Brands should think hard about what role they can play in building a bridge between Kiwi culture and their culture. What tangible benefits they can offer, and how they can frame this inclusively and positively, representing the best of being in New Zealand? How can your brand acknowledge their efforts and help them navigate the challenges of living in Auckland?

Innovate and integrate
Our research has shown that Indians and Chinese appreciate their culture being acknowledged, but fun and innovative ways of doing so are more likely to interest them and induce trials of products or services.

In particular, Chinese New Zealanders love to seek out the new and the latest. They have come from, and remain heavily influenced by, innovation and brands in China, with whom they stay closely connected via social platforms. Working harder to integrate your media and messaging in partnership with media owners can create strong brand affinity, consideration and preference.

A diverse Auckland is a market of significant commercial opportunity. The winners will be those brands prepared to find insights and develop strategy to create truly effective marketing – fewer lanterns, more illumination.

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