On Tuesday 7th March 2023, OMG Unite won GG2 Leadership & Diversity Agency of the Year Award. The award was received by Serhat Ekinci, OMG Unite Managing Director and Emma Kwarteng OMG Unite Projects and Operations Lead.

©Edward Lloyd/Alpha Press & Garavi Gujarat Publications. Copyright © 2023

As quoted by the award’s organisers, “Our winner is part of one of the world’s biggest advertising agencies and specialises in multi-cultural, LGBTQ+ and disability marketing. The agency aims to disrupt the traditional marketing brief and move clients from unconscious exclusion to conscious inclusion which it has done with considerable success with some of country’s biggest brands. OMG Unite is a diversity driven agency with inclusion at its heart. Part of the Omnicom Media Group, the agency works with some Britain’s best known organisations including Sainsbury’s, HSBC, Specsavers, Barclays, the RAF, and the NSPCC. The team at Unite is truly diverse coming from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and their deep insights in marketing have helped grow their client base from just three clients to 90 plus in the time that the agency has existed.”

Ethnicity/Religion/ National Identity

The Census takes place every 10 years and generates a snap-shot of the UK population. The first phase of the 2021 Census was released in the summer of 2022, compiling the most detailed data on the make-up of the UK since 2011.

Knowing the shifts in our population; who they are, where they are and their wellbeing, is vital to shaping an effective and inclusive brand strategy. While the full Census data set won’t be released until mid-2023, a staggered release of individual sets of data has been running from Autumn 2022.

To keep you informed, OMG UNITE have created ‘Census Shifts’, a content series exploring the trends and changes seen over the last three decades in our population (comparing 2001 – 2011 Census data with 2011 – 2021), with a cultural twist.

Following on from our initial two ‘Census Shifts’ (focused on Population & Household Estimates and International Migration), we are pleased to share the third set of insights in the series. Building on the
International Migration data shared in Shift 2, we look to highlight key findings in Ethnicity & Religion and their implications. We also share our thoughts on what these findings mean to our industry and what we can do now to drive inclusivity in comms.

Please note that the language, terminology and segmentation used throughout this blog post is consistent with that of the Census.

With high growth ethnic minority communities representing more than 1 in 4 people, it’s time to reconsider bespoke comms to drive engagement

What’s new

Ethnic minority groups (combined) have increased significantly (+39%) between 2011 to 2021. Together they now account for 26% (1 in 4) of the population in England and Wales.

Only 74% of usual residents in England and Wales identified their ethnicity as White: English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British. A decrease in both number (-780k) and percentage (down from 80% in 2011).

The wider Asian community (including South Asian, Other Asian groups and people with mixed Asian heritage) saw the largest increase, up from 4.6 million people in 2011 to 6 million (10% of the overall
population) in 2021.

What it means to our industry

The individual ethnic minority groups have all grown significantly in the last 10 years and represent key audiences that brands should not ignore. OMG UNITE’s Diversity Insight Tool (DIT) shows that despite their significant sizes, multicultural communities still feel mainstream advertising is not relevant to them, creating an opportunity to be more representative and relevant to drive growth.

Several groups within the ethic minority community share similarities that allow us to meaningfully reach them together through media.

What we can do now

Use OMG UNITE’s Diversity Audit to understand the gaps and opportunities for different groups. Start to think about a more tailored approach for communities that are most relevant and sizable for your business. By considering creative representation and relevant media environments, there are opportunities that brands can tap into to improve how they connect with diverse communities.

In an increasingly secular world, cultural moments are key opportunities to connect with diverse communities

What’s new

For the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half of the population (46.2%: 27.5 million people) described themselves as Christian. This coincided with an increase in the number of people reporting ‘No religion’ from 25.2% of the population in 2011 to 37.2% in 2021.

While there are more people who identified as not religious, religions observed by ethnic minority groups continued to see strong growth. There was a 42% increase for Muslim (now 3.9m people) and a 26% increase (now 1m people) for Hindu.

What it means to our industry

Religions like Islam and Hinduism are now observed and their traditions celebrated by more people than ever in England and Wales. In London, Muslim accounted for 15.0% of the population and Hindu accounted for 5.1%. When 1 in 7 people that walk on the streets of London are Muslim, it’s also time for brands to think about how they can tap into this huge opportunity.

Cultural and religious moments are becoming bigger opportunities and making their way onto marketing calendars of leading brands. They’re celebrated by many, whether it’s for religious or non-religious reasons. However, OMG UNITE’s Diversity Insight Tool shows that majority of diverse audiences don’t feel that their own celebrations are represented in mainstream media.

What we can do now

Understand what these cultural and religious opportunities would mean for your brands. Apart from Ramadan, Eid and Diwali, there are actually hundreds of events celebrated by different communities. The same way Christmas is the biggest moment with Christian families, each religion also has its own tentpole moments that represent great opportunities from a product perspective. However, these are also the best moments to demonstrate understanding and connect with audiences culturally if done
authentically.

Only 1 in 10 people specify a non-UK identity, but identities can be multi-layered and representation is key

What’s new

Those selecting a non-UK identity only accounted for 9.7% of the overall population (5.8 million
people) – a marginal increase from 8.0% of the population (4.5 million people) in 2011.

Another 2.0% (1.2 million people) selected both UK identify and non-UK identify – an increase from
0.9% (492k ) in 2011.

Among those who selected a non-UK national identity, the most common response were those
describing Polish (1.0%, 593,000) and Romanian (0.8%, 477,000) as their identity. Other common
non-UK identities include Indian (0.6%, 380,000), Irish (0.5%, 300,000), and Italian (0.5%, 287,000).

What it means to our industry

We need to recognise that people have different identities: be it national identity, religious identity, LGBTQ+ identity, etc. and these identities, as proven through OMG UNITE’s Diversity Insight Tool, are multi-faceted and people may consciously or unconsciously code-switch depending on who they are with
and where they are. These are often strong influencing factors on how we live our lives, who we follow and look up to, and the media we consume. There are many trusted creators and media channels that can be considered in our media mix – there is an established media landscape for Asian, African, Caribbean, Jewish, Polish, LGBTQ+ creators and media platforms that can allow us to better connect with these communities authentically.

What we can do now

Consider how we can use trusted voices and partners to connect with our audiences. Make sure specialists, such as OMG UNITE, with fully diverse and inclusive teams, are central to these projects. Even for larger national campaigns, being able to diversify the media mix or include different voices/influencers into the plan would be a good starting point in order to extend reach and drive engagement.

Summary

With high-growth ethnic minority communities now representing over 25% of the population in England and Wales, brands should consider a more tailored approach to their comms to drive reach and engagement.

Despite an increasingly secular population, both cultural and religious moments provide
key opportunities to connect
with diverse communities.

We need to recognise that identities can be multi-layered and representation is key. Dedicated creatives and trusted media environments can provide nuanced comms with stronger engagement.

Source: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/culturalidentity

The Census takes place every 10 years and generates a snap-shot of the UK population. The first phase of the 2021 Census was released in the summer of 2022, compiling the most detailed data on the make-up of the UK since 2011.

Knowing the shifts in our population; who they are, where they are and their wellbeing, is vital to shaping an effective and inclusive brand strategy. While the full Census data set won’t be released until mid-2023, a staggered release of individual sets of data will run from Autumn to Winter 2022. To keep you informed, OMG UNITE have created ‘Census Shifts’, a content series exploring the trends and changes seen over the last three decades in our population, with a cultural twist.

Following our first set of ‘Census Shifts’ insights released alongside the initial Census data, we are pleased to share the second set of insights in the series.

The International Migration data of the 2021 Census was released on 2nd November. Whilst country of birth and passport do not equal ethnicity, and many UK-born diverse communities are not included in the stats (ethnicity data is due to be released late November), it is a strong indication on the growth and direction of our society in the UK. We have highlighted three key shifts and the implications they have on how brands approach inclusive marketing moving forwards.

Please note that the language, terminology and segmentation used throughout this blog post is consistent with that of the Census.

The importance of engaging with first-generation residents

What’s new

One in six residents of England and Wales were born outside the UK.

Of the 10 million residents in England and Wales who weren’t born in the UK, 4.2m (42.4%) have arrived since 2011.

What it means to our industry

Covid and Brexit haven’t reversed the migration trend as many had predicted. Apart from being an essential sociocultural consideration for brands, diversity and inclusion can also be a key growth driver
due to the significant size of this audience.

The 4.2m first generation residents that have arrived in the UK in the last 10 years are more likely to follow cultural traditions and media consumption from their countries of birth. Community media channels will play a key role in reaching them.

What we can do now

OMG UNITE’s specialists and proprietary Diversity Insight Tool (DIT) can provide an indepth understanding of these communities, their cultures and how they relate to your brand and products.

Use multicultural media to ensure your campaigns reach these communities equally and at the same frequency as other audiences. As most multicultural media is not included in industry tools, use UNITE’s proprietary platforms, such as the Diverse Community Network Platform, to access 500+ minority owned or led media and content platforms across TV, Radio, Print and Digital as a key enabler to drive growth.

Moving beyond skin colour for truly inclusive comms

What’s new

5.9 million residents (9.9% of the total population) hold a non-UK passport, with Poland being the most commonly held (760,000, 1.3% of all residents).

The number of UK residents holding European passports has increased significantly: particularly from
Eastern European countries e.g. those holding Romanian passports increased by 576% from 2011.

The South Asian community, the largest ethnic group in the UK, continues to increase with India, Pakistan and Bangladesh all in the top 10 non-UK countries of birth.

What it means to our industry

Central and Eastern European residents have increased significantly. Although commonly not considered as ethnic minorities due to many being White, it’s important to consider a bespoke communications plan to address cultural differences and potential language barriers. For instance, a recent campaign targeted towards Polish people performed 3x better when the messaging was delivered in their mother tongue vs English.

Despite already being the largest group, the South Asian community in the UK has also grown significantly, and with it the importance for brands to reach this audience. Although there are many cultural differences within this community, they often have shared media consumption i.e. the Pakistani community commonly consume Indian media channels and vice versa.

Authentic diverse communication preferences, consumption habits and language barriers are key considerations for brands, creative and media agencies.

What we can do now

Expand your definition of diversity beyond skin colour when considering inclusive communications.
OMG UNITE can help to distil and understand nuances of different communities and their cultural heritage, as well as help define what inclusivity means specifically for your brand.

Cultural localisation is key

What’s new

All regions across England and Wales have seen an increase in non-UK born residents from 2011 to 2021. The regions with the highest % change are the North West and East Midlands (over 49%+) whilst London has seen the lowest at 19%+.

The capital still has the highest number of non-UK born residents (3.5m) – more than 4 in 10 (40.6%) London residents are non-UK born, and more than 1 in 5 (23.3%) have a non-UK passport.

What it means to our industry

With the concentration of non-UK residents shifting from predominantly urban areas and the make-up of these audiences varying by Local Authority, we need to find ways to make our communications contextually more relevant. For instance, using the same media channels and creative to reach the population in Brent (where 56% of residents are born outside the UK) as well as those in Redcar and Cleveland where 99% of residents hold UK passports) is highly unlikely to drive the required results.

With the 2021 census data now available we can develop a renewed approach to diversify our creative and media activity.

What we can do now

Rethink our approach of running regional and local campaigns. Use tools such as OMG UNITE’s Audience Mapper to drive contextual relevancy based on audience make-up.
Include creative consultancy services to ensure your creative and content is culturally relevant to the area and the media you advertise in.

Summary

With the increase in first-generation residents in the UK, an inclusive approach to advertising is important to drive growth.

Diversity is more than skin deepconsider cultural differences and potential language barriers in your communications strategies.


The Census takes place every 10 years and generates a snap-shot of the UK population. The first phase of the 2021 Census was released last week, compiling the most detailed data on the make-up of the UK since 2011. As a business with consumers at the heart of what we do, knowing the shifts in our population; who they are, where they are and their wellbeing; is vital.

While the full Census data set won’t be released until mid-2023, a staggered release of individual sets of data will begin from Autumn to Winter 2022. To keep you informed, OMG Unite have created ‘Census Shifts’, a content series exploring the trends and changes seen over the last three decades in our population (comparing 2001 – 2011 Census data with 2011- 2021), with a cultural twist.

This blog post covers population and household estimates for England and Wales, at local authority level, cross tabulated by sex and age. From Autumn 2022 onwards 8 different topic summaries will be released periodically:

a. Demography and migration
b. Ethnic group, national identity,
language, and religion
c. Health, disability, and unpaid care
d. Housing
e. Labour market and travel to work
f. Sexual orientation and gender identity
g. Education
h. UK armed forces veterans

Please note that the language, terminology and segmentation used throughout this blog post is consistent with that of the Census.

Population is growing at a declining rate and the forecast growth of non-White ethnic groups will be difficult for brands to ignore

The total population of England and Wales was 59,597,300 in 2021 which is the largest recorded population to date; however, growth has slowed. There was an 8% increase in population size between 2001 (52m) and 2011 (56m) and this has decreased to 6.3% between 2011 and 2021.

Using the 2001 and 2011 data, we can extrapolate the change in population size by ethnic group. Between 2001 and 2011, the White British population saw a 1% decrease in size and Irish saw a decrease of 17%, in size, whereas all other ethnic groups combined increased by 77%.

Based on recent data, we predict that the population growth rate in other ethnic groups seen from the 2001 – 2011 data will continue to increase. In 2021, the Census results show that out of the 3.5m recorded increase in population size, 57.5% is due to net positive migration. Alongside this, over a third of all children born in England and Wales have either one or both parents born outside the UK in recent years, with 34.8% in 2020 being the highest ever number recorded.

In 2021, the Census results show that out of the 3.5m recorded increase in population size, 57.5% is due to net positive migration. Alongside this, over a third of all children born in England and Wales have either one or both parents born outside the UK in recent years, with 34.8%i in 2020 being the highest ever number recorded. This doesn’t include ethnic minority parents born in the UK.

While Brexit has caused negative changes to EU Net immigration in recent years, non-EU net migration is still on the rise.

These statistics show that the non-White British segments are driving population growth. It is therefore incredibly important for brands to acknowledge the UK’s diverse population and ensure they have relevant communications that reach these communities, in the right place, with the right message.

Sex splits remained largely the same with a slight increase for Females

The split between Female and Male individuals within England and Wales has remained broadly the same over the course of the last three decades with a ratio of around 51% to 49%.

When looking at Sex by ethnic group, the splits are largely inline with the general population with 1% higher Female population for those of non-White ethnic groups combined.

We’ll be digging deeper into sexual orientation and gender identity when the data is released later this year.

We are older than ever before but the non-White ethnic group is forecast to be younger than the general population

The longstanding trend of an ageing population in England and Wales continues with 18.6% of the population 65 years+ (11.1m) in 2021, compared to 15.97% (8.3m) in 2001 and 16.45% in 2011 (9.2m).

The 55 – 64 age group shows a similar pattern; having increased from 10.6% (5.5m) of the population in 2001, 11.7% (6.6m) in 2011, to 12.6% (7.5m) in 2021.

The 2011 Census showed that the ageing population is driven by the White ethnic group, making up a much higher percentage of those aged 45+ vs other ethnicities.

In contrast to this, the Multicultural population skews younger than the general population, with declines in both the 55-64 and 65+ age groups from 2001-2011.

The proportion of 20–34-year-olds increased from 27.9% to 30.5% from 2001-2011 and the 35 – 54 age group also experienced a slight increase from 26.1% to 26.7%.

For brands with a target audience of those aged 45 and below, it is key to embed a strategy of “how to win” non-White ethnic groups to futureproof their businesses.

Household estimates

24,782,800 households were recorded in 2021, a 6% increase from 2011 versus an 8% increase from 2001 – 2011.

The region experiencing the greatest increase in household figures between 2011 and 2021 was the East (+8.5%) followed by the South West (+8.1%).

On a local authority level, Kensington and Chelsea saw the largest drop in households (-15%) from 2011-2021, whereas Tower Hamlets has consistently seen the highest increase in households; 19% from 2011-2021 and 29% from 2001-2011.

Regional and local changes

The population size across all regions increased between 2011 and 2021 with the largest increase in the East of England (8.3%).

That said, most regions experienced a slower growth rate vs. 2001 – 2011. For example, the change in population size between 2001 and 2011 in London was 14% compared to only 6% between 2011 and 2021. Regions that were an exception to the rule were the North West and the South West.

The three local authority areas that saw the greatest reduction in population size between 2011 to
2021 were Kensington and Chelsea (-10%), Westminster (-7%) and Ceredigion (-6%). The three local
authority areas experiencing the greatest increase were Tower Hamlets (22%), Dartford (20%) and
City of London (18%).

Conclusion

The UK’s population is changing. What is clear from the first set of data is that targeting
Multicultural groups will be increasingly important for brands. To futureproof their businesses
and to drive growth it is vital for brand owners to build and embed strategies to win this sizeable,
young and ever-growing part of the population.


Disclaimer: Figures may appear slightly different to ONS bulletins due to the rounding
done by Census/ONS on the released datasets
.