According to the results of a survey carried out by the Institute of Public Affairs[1] Poles in Britain are still perceived as cheap labour, people who have come in order to support their families in their motherland. According to this stereotype these are people who live in a rented room and buy products and services in one-pound stores just to save as much money as possible. And what does the reality look like? What are the features of Polish consumers on the Thames?

They buy brands they know

Prosperous shops with Polish food (there are several hundred of them) and Polish products in supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda or Sainsbury’s prove the fact that Poles are still attached to their national food products. The boom of Polish service points – hairdressing and beauty salons, kindergartens, garages or accounting offices, even in small towns, indicates that they trust Polish providers and still need customer service in their mother tongue.

They appreciate value for money

Poles like shopping in discount shops, such as Poundland, in which they buy good quality products at a low price. – For many Polish customers the price is an imperative criterion when choosing products and services so, indeed, the first question asked by Polish clients does not concern the range of insurance cover that they can get, but its cost. The British pay more attention to the quality of products. Polish customers expect high quality products, but for a reasonable price.

Influenced by choices of their relatives and acquaintances

Contrary to Brits who will check the most recent “Which” magazine or price comparison websites before purchasing a car, Poles will be influenced by what car and insurance their relatives or acquaintances have.

Like products offered for free

– After managing sponsorships of more than 60 events in the last five years, one must notice that Poles love free gadgets, samplings and the possibility to test a product or service for free, contrary to, for example, Brits who are not particularly interested in free merchandise, or even willing to try a new yoghurt for free –  explains Matylda Setlak, MD of Polish All 4 Comms agency which specialises in ethnic marketing campaigns addressed to Poles in the UK.

Investments in immovables

The higher the salaries of our compatriots, the bigger their savings, which allows a shift from consumption to investments in, for example, immovables. More and more Poles in Britain do not only buy houses for themselves, but also purchase immovables that could be rented to others, the so called “buy to let” option.

Aware of their needs

Consumer awareness of Poles is also increasing. – Today, Polish customers know exactly what to expect for example from law firm services, and if they have an accident, they more often seek experienced lawyers who can help them obtain compensation. A few years ago most Poles didn’t distinguish law firms from agents working on a “no win no fee” basis.

Open to more expensive products

Earlier, most Polish customers were looking for cheap transport in order to commute, and if a car broke down, they bought substitutes instead of original parts, or they even asked for the old part to be repaired. Nowadays, the same customers seek the best models and the difference in price of original parts and their substitutes is no longer a problem.

The material situation of our compatriots in the last few years has improved a lot and so has the behaviour of Mr Kowalski in London and Coventry –  says Matylda Setlak, Managing Director of All 4 Comms, a marketing communications agency specialising in campaigns targeted at Poles. – We observe Polish customers carefully and notice the changes taking place in this group. These changes influence their consumer needs and therefore, also their behaviour – she says.

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