By Chloe Malik, Director of Hot Marketing, Leicester which specialises in reaching ethnic audiences

The South Asian community now make up a gigantic 10% of the nations Gross National Product. You only need to look at The Times rich list to see how many British Indians are now featured, from steel magnates to families who have created food empires, such as Tony Deep and family with East End Foods. The Indian community in Britain has undoubtedly made an impressive contribution to the UK economy. British Indians also have a vast disposable income which they enjoy spending, especially around the time of festivals such as Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs alike.


Diwali is the “festival of lights”. It extends over 5 days and this year falls on the 13th November. It’s a great favourite and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm, as this period marks new beginnings. Houses are thoroughly cleaned and paths and courtyards are often decorated with rangoli patterns. Everyone, young and old alike, dress in new clothes and go on major shopping sprees, buying household goods, sweets and all manner of foods.


Many businesses could be tapping into the increased sales and also show their appreciation of the community in the UK. One such company is Pizza Hut. Victoria Clarke, Pizza Hut comments: “ This Diwali we wanted to join in the celebrations and reward the loyalty the community has shown us, by giving some great Diwali special offers. All our Restaurants in Leicester are running special promotions which include a great value meal, exclusively designed for Diwali.

 As well as being part of the festival celebrations we will be promoting the special offers through Direct Mail, leaflets and also through Sabras Radio.

In addition to the meal deal Pizza Hut are offering the chance to win £100 worth of Pizza Hut vouchers.”


As well as Diwali offering up commercial opportunities, The Hindu Council comment: “ The most important way the grocery trade can help people celebrate Diwali is to remember Hindu, Sikh and Jain employees will want to celebrate, so employers offering flexible working time would be much appreciated. Also buy in Indian sweets from suppliers such as Rambala or Royal sweets. Diwali cards and decorations are also a good idea.”


The UK hosts some of the biggest Diwali celebrations outside India. Leicester has become synonymous with the festivities, where the Melton Road is closed for an evening of cheer and fireworks. Don Kotak, Managing Director of Sabras Sound in Leicester says: “Diwali is a key period for shopping and we have an increased demand for advertising spots during this time as brands appreciate the impact targeted media has.


At Sabras we also run bespoke Diwali programming on our Restricted Service License (a special license granted by Ofcom for special events) to offer specially tailored programmes for Diwali.”


It is quite staggering that South Asians now account for over half of all new UK millionaires, so it is essential that companies conduct research, look at buying habits and the effect of culture, language, religion, westernisation and acculturation. When would be a better time than during Diwali.


The Grocery multiples have all woken to the value of the Asian pound and the possibilities. Whether it’s the 20kg bags of rice found in world food aisles, new own label products aimed solely at the ethnic shopper or genuine specialist foods like various spice mixes sourced from the country of origin. There is also the new age of truly Asian supermarkets offering a complete shop at great prices, making it a one stop shop. With supermarkets such as Asda dedicating 20% of its shelf space to ethnic lines it is unquestionably big business and another giant, Tesco, doubled its world food range in 2010. A huge growth area is the sale of raw ethnic ingredients which has grown more than a staggering 13% in the last year as home cooked curries continue to grow in popularity. Another area that should also be promoted during key festivals is items like cleaning products and soft drinks such as Coke. It’s a constant amazement that these items aren’t promoted more. Just think how much sales of such items increase around Christmas and Diwali is no different. So why are retailers still blind to such opportunities? A family celebration equals visiting relatives and friends which equals frenzied cleaning and bigger sales of party things like soft drinks and snacks such as Cofresh.


The grocery trade should look at tools that have worked with the indigenous population. There could be Diwali Candle calendars available for the countdown to the festival. Grocers all know that the sale of sweets is heightened during Christmas and the same is for Diwali except Methi (Asian sweets) are the delights of choice. They are a staple gift during this period and Asian sweet shops can’t sell enough. Surely here is an opportunity for grocers to cross-sell these celebrations too. Everyone in the UK loves fireworks and Indian food so why not suggest everyone gives Diwali cards, has a celebratory curry because celebrating and embracing the cultures and religions that make up the UK is something we can all be part of.


Contact: Chloe Malik 0116 270 4800

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