Poles are the largest national minority in the UK, and Polish is the second most popular language spoken in the country. Ignoring such a powerful target group would be a serious mistake, both on the part of the business owner and those responsible for marketing. On the other hand, it is worth knowing that Polonia is a specific group of customers. Both classic marketing aimed at the British as well as marketing aimed at Poles in Poland will not work here. So how to promote yourself to them? Here are the most effective tools.
Table of contents:
- Poles in the UK – who are your audiences?
- Marketing to the Polish community in the UK
- Offline marketing
- Online marketing
- PR activities
Poles in the UK – who are your audiences?
To start with, we must warn you – there is no effective ethnic marketing to Polish people in the UK (or ethnic marketing to any other minority) without research. Researching the market, the needs of the target group, their buying preferences and knowledge of detailed demographic data is the absolute basis for planning and implementing long-term marketing or PR strategies. Our agency’s work always begins with a thorough investigation of who your Polish customers are and what they need. Below we present only general data concerning Poles in the UK.
There are currently around 700,000 Poles living in the UK. Most of them (87%) are working people aged 25 to 39. They support areas of the economy mainly in the hotel, manufacturing, catering, retail, transport, and construction sectors. Many Poles in the UK also work as teachers, bankers, doctors, and IT specialists. There is also no shortage of Polish entrepreneurs who have set up their own businesses on the islands. Here, the dominant industries include coaching, beauty and health, cleaning services, legal and accounting services, and transport.
What happened to Poles after Brexit?
According to the British Census, more than 85,000 Poles left the UK in the first half of 2020. However, current reports already speak of almost 200 thousand of the 900 thousand Poles who were still living in Britain at the end of 2019. This state of affairs is due to two reasons: the first is Brexit; the second is the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is worth noting that they are still the prevailing national minority.
Marketing to the Polish community in the UK
Poles are not easy customers. They are demanding, distrustful and easily discouraged by brands. They are also not very loyal customers. Price is often the main determinant of product purchase. On the other hand, they value quality. Therefore, they willingly reach for Polish products, which they associate with high quality. This is particularly true of food and alcohol. Year by year, however, the typical Polish customer is becoming more and more like a Western customer. The Polish community in Great Britain, especially the younger generation, is almost identical to the typical young British customer.
So how to promote yourself to them? Here are some of the most popular tools for promoting to Poles in the UK – offline and online.
Posters, billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising (e.g. advertising on buses or taxis). Here you should take care of their location. Outdoor advertising to the Polish community in the UK should be placed on the streets and in strategic places or buildings, which are often visited by Poles (e.g. airports, railway stations, the area of Polish schools, bus stops, etc.).
Leaflets and gadgets
The distribution of leaflets and gadgets works particularly well for Polish companies that want to reach the Polish community in Great Britain. Here, as in the case of outdoor advertising, the place of distribution is crucial. There are many possibilities: from Polish schools or cultural centres to Polish shops; clinics, restaurants, or distribution during events for Poles.
British media and beyond
Promotion in traditional media needs to be approached sensibly. Mainstream media in the UK may not work, as Poles mainly use Polish communication channels. We are of course talking about the so-called first-generation-migrants, who did not grow up in the UK and speak mainly Polish on a daily basis.
Sponsorship of events
Sponsorship of special events was, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the most popular tactic for ethnic marketing to the Polish community in the UK. No wonder – there were around 200 such events a year – from outdoor family events or festivals (such as the Goniec Polish Festival in London and Luton and Bedford Polish Festivals), to concerts and cabarets, to events organised to celebrate Polish holidays such as Independence Day on 11 November. Here it is good to organise something that will engage potential customers, such as competitions with prizes, workshops, pop-up shops or draws for children.
Sponsorship of sports teams
Sponsoring local Polish sports teams (e.g. football teams) not only increases the reach and recognition of a brand, but also has a positive impact on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Currently, sponsorship is one of the most dynamically developing forms of promotion. As an agency specialising in ethnic marketing, we see the growing popularity of this tool.
With the majority of Poles living in the UK being under the age of 40, it’s no surprise that social media marketing is now the main tool for communicating with customers. Covid-19 has also contributed to this, which has kept people at home and forced marketers to increase their social media budgets. Here it is worth sticking to a few rules: conduct communication in Polish (the option to write posts in several language versions helps) and refer to Polish traditions, events, cuisine, places, people and even memes, jokes or lifestyles. Yes – even simple memes (of course only if the type of product fits such a loose communication) are able to engage many Poles.
Social media and Google Ads
Internet advertising on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google search is an effective way to reach a well-defined target group. When targeting, several aspects should be taken into account, including language (preferably Polish, although this is not the rule), device type and operating system, area of residence (e.g. places densely populated by Poles) or interests that connect a given group of Poles in the UK.
Content marketing still reigns supreme on the web and worth taking advantage of. When planning a content marketing strategy for a company targeting the Polish community in the UK, it is a good idea to include a company blog or a series of guest expert articles on industry blogs or websites frequented by the Polish community.
Advertising in the print media or sponsored articles in newspapers can be a disappointment for many companies investing in ethnic marketing to Poles. For them to work, it is essential to know the media market for Polonia. It is also important that press materials are prepared by public relations experts. Industry jargon written by a specialist in a given field will do nothing to promote a company. It may even have a discouraging effect.
The data says that only 15% of Poles use the British media. The rest prefer to get their information from Polish sites such as Moja Wyspa and Londynek or magazines such as Panorama, Goniec Polski or Polish Express. This is where it is worth directing press releases about a company and its products or services.
Brand exposure will be greatly influenced by any grass-roots activity, using, for example, the power of recommendations. Poles are a distrustful nation, so such a recommendation (e.g. by a friend) will have a much stronger effect on them than any advertising. Quite effective grass-roots tools for the Polish community in the UK are, for example, word of mouth marketing, building engagement on Facebook, competitions and lotteries, or offering product samples.
Ethnic marketing to Poles requires specialist knowledge and experience. It requires not only knowledge of marketing principles, but also an understanding of the specificity of the target group, which is the Polish community in the UK. If you are looking for a marketing agency from Poland that can help you promote your product or service, write to us.