Attractions And Culture Of Southall Cultural Studies Essay

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I have selected 'Southall' as my case study. It is situated in London borough of Ealing, near Heathrow airport. It is well connected with major London stations via London over ground rail service. Southall is an area where more than 50% of population is from India and Pakistan or other Asian communities and it is commonly called as 'little India' among the local people. This is a perfect example of diverse cultures, where local community from different religions and cultures live together.

Some of the major attractions it offer to the visitors such as Southall Broadway, which is the main shopping street, where almost every range of products from Asian community can be found very easily. Variety of restaurants with multi- cuisines; magnetically attracts visitors, as original Indian curries and country taste is the speciality. Visitors can feel the colourful culture of Asia in very first visit to Southall.

Many Gurudwaras (Religious temples of Sikh community) are located here and they attract many visitors from different parts of London and local people as well. One of Gurudwara named "Sri Guru Singh Sabha" (Largest Sikh temple situated outside India) called proud of Southall. Not only Gurudwaras but many Hindu temples, churches and mosques are also situated here and this whole atmosphere gives impression of a multi-religion community.

During many festivals Southall has its own charm. As India is a country of festivals and colours, multiple religions have their own ideas of celebrations and Punjabi culture is the most famous and celebrating among all. Diwali, Holi, Dussera, Vaisakhi, Guru-Purab etc. are some of the celebration days. In Southall people celebrate these days similarly Christmas or New Year eve. There are hundreds of videos and pictures available online to get a feel of atmosphere around these special days. This place is famous among all Punjabi peoples around the globe due to its exceptionality. Many Hindi, Punjabi movies and various folk music artists has contributed much for this hype.

While my own personal visits, I can rarely see English faces. Usually shopkeepers deals in their native language 'Punjabi'. Influence of Punjabi in this area can be judged from Southall over ground station where English and Punjabi signposts are installed for convenience to locals. Picture below is of one of the signposts installed outside Southall over ground train station:

Courtesy: www.thelangarhall.comwp-contentuploads200808SouthallLRsign.jpg

No doubt about the diversified culture and landmarks located in Southall; still there is some lacking in its touristic popularity among non-Asian visitors. While this place has many attractions and interests, some techniques and marketing theories can be used to make it a well established destination.

Through this case study and my personal observation, I would like to present some arguments regarding the limited popularity and suggestions for creativeness of this potential tourist destination (which can be a major attraction for all types of London visitors in coming future; if worked wisely upon market strategies).

Also I would like to present market segmentation and market research tools for the future prospects of this place. Required parameters, appropriate communication mix and distribution channels are mentioned in the later part of this study.

Distinctiveness, Segmentation, Target Market, Market Research

Southall is unique and several benefits it can offer to the visitors. 'Little India' would be used to provide various attractions to communities not only Asians but from other race as well.

I want to provide you a glimpse of varieties and cultural experiences, which Southall is offering to current visitors and tourists:

Distinctiveness:

Southall became a residential community area in early 50's when the primary group of Asians arrived here, who was recruited to work in a local factory which was owned by an ex-British Indian Army officer. These South Asian inhabitants grew rapidly, due to the convenience of employment opportunities.

Today Southall has a lot to offer to its people, I am providing few distinctive characteristics of this place which make it exceptional in terms of visitor's experience:

Religious Places: There are ten Sikh Gurdwaras in Southall, one of these Gurdwaras 'Sri Guru Singh Sabha' (opened in 2003) is one of the biggest Sikh temples outside India as I have mentioned earlier in introduction part. There are two large Hindu temples, the Vishnu Hindu temple on Lady Margaret Road and the Ram temple in Old Southall. Number of churches like Roman Catholic, Methodist Anglican, Baptist etc. and three Muslim community mosques, one located on Southall Broadway and other located in Old Southall. These places provide a multi-cultural and religiously divine experience together at one destination.

Shopping and Food: Main road in Southall is called the Broadway. Southall has major Asian shopping centre in London. Southall is also the site of the famous 'Glassy Junction' public house, which serve a number of Indian draught beers and interesting fact to mention that it gives facility to accept payment in Indian currency. Southall has many famous restaurants e.g. Mirch Masala, Gifto's Madhus, Chaudhry's TKC, TKC are well-known for the Chaudhry's Tiara which has a unique Pakistani bus for their business marketing. A large gas tower is also located in Southall, which is a well known landmark and visible from a long distance. Southall has its own local football club named as Southall F.C. and has a long history, having been formed more than hundred years ago.

Courtesy: http://www.visitsouthall.co.uk/Local_Info/southall_tourist_map.php

(Mentioned map give an idea of the famous landmark locations of Southall and visible that a diverse range of option is available to enjoy and experience here)

Music and Films: Media played a well versed role for the popularity of Southall, Many Indo-British movies were setup here as shooting and script locations; some of them are Hindi film 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom', internationally applauded movies 'Bend It Like Beckham' and 'Bride and Prejudice'. Couple of year's back a famous Hindi movie has been made on Southall football club named as 'Goal'. Not only movies but number of Punjabi music videos has been shot here and a lot of famous personalities from Indian cinema and Indian music industry accommodate themselves here. A local community radio station is serving Southall named Westside 89.6 FM and licensed by OfCom towards community-based radio services.

Film Studio: One of the earliest British film studios 'Southall Studios' played a historic role in British film-making from its creation in 1924 to its closure in 1959. In 1936 a fire destroyed the studio but it was rebuilt and enlarged. Several movies featuring well-known actors, plus an early TV series ("Colonel March of Scotland Yard") were made at the studios together with TV and cinema adverts. (Web resources)

Industrial Establishments: During the research, it has been found that there were many persons who made their impact as population of Southall. Otto Monsted, a Danish margarine producer, built a large factory at Southall in 1894. The factory also had its own railway sidings and branch canal. The Maypole Dairy Company was later acquired by Lever Brothers who, as part of the international Unilever Company, changed the site to a Wall's Sausages factory which produced sausages and other meat products until the late 1970s.

Business Factor: Quaker Oats (later part of Pepsi co) built a factory in Southall in 1936. Which later on taken by Spiller's and Big Gear group. Engineering goods, paint, sugar puffs and food process factories are the main business developed here. (Web resources)

These were some of the examples from its brief history which made an impact for their large businesses, till this date Southall provide a positive atmosphere for the businesses to grow, one of them is due to availability of the workforce form eastern countries.

Mentioned are some of the major sources of attraction and brief historical events related to this place. Southall can simply provide an astonishing experience to the visitors. Diverse range of activities and people; makes it apart from London's main stream tourism. Southall provides a strong example for 'Creative Tourism' as it offers many valuable and unique experiences to the visitors.

Market Segmentation & Target Market

As we have discussed that Southall provides a religiously enrich experience especially to Hindu and Sikh community and number of visitors are from this market segmentation (Based on special community services).

Some visitors are from London region who wants to have a glimpse of 'Little India' due to their special interests or eagerness. Shopping for some Indian items e.g. clothes, food items, entertainment sources, food and grocery products etc. also attract people from around as they are not easily available in other parts of city.

Market segmentation is a essential part of any tourism destination study as:

"Segmentation groups tourists into segments based on similar characteristics. Targeting chooses from among these segments the one or more that are most likely to respond positively to a promotional message…" (Kolb, 2006: 103)

Target Market and Market Research:

Above definition from Kolb describe the need of classification of the different target markets according to their characteristics and I observed from couple of visits about the market segments who comes to this place, mainly they are;

Families- Parents with their children for shopping and leisure and to enjoy an atmosphere which relates them to their native hood.

Individual Youngsters- who are involve in some part of industries and Southall Broadway (as part of work or to meet friends).

Old age people from Asian (Indian & Pakistani) ethnicity- for the purpose of their regular or timely visit to religious places.

Societies of specialist interests- mainly these societies are from cultural perspectives who visit for their special interests.

Shoppers- Mainly females who are interested in Asian ethnic clothing or fashion.

Domestic tourists- from Asian ethnicity, who are travelling to UK or London have their interest to visit this famous (among them) place or to meet family or friends or due to publicity created by media (Films and music)

These are some of the major categories of visitors who choose Southall as their destination for various reasons as applicable. Doing a market research is necessary due to the vulnerability of tourism and;

'The more an organisation knows about its customers and prospective customers - their needs and desires, their attitudes and behaviour- the better it will be able to design and is required to stimulate their purchasing decisions.' (Middleton with Clarke, 2001)

Same categories are the perspective Target Markets and it can be enhanced more by implementation of accurate market research and tourism marketing.

Further in next part of this case study I would like to present the appropriate communications mix and distribution channels. Which are currently, used for promotions of Southall and to attract visitors.

Communications Mix and Distribution Channels

I have accessed a few websites available online for information on Southall and for current activities going on here but sad part is; this place is no where suitably accessed in detail on the web, whereas on the other hand I can't find appropriate printed materials (flyers or brochures) as well. This is the key point which strikes my mind that why this place is not so famous in other communities or London visitors and narrowed only to the local communities living here.

Present Promotional Materials:

I observed that word to mouth is the only active part of promotions happening for this place by local communities and this is the major reason why rest of the people are staying apart to access this unique destination. Why websites are not playing a valuable role. When searched in detail, I found that few websites which are available are not actually attracting any new breed of visitors and not many promotions are available on the air.

WEBSITES-

Few websites I have mentioned below are the only available sources to get information (which are also not satisfying the requirement of a visitor) and I tried to give a brief synopsis about what information they contain and what is lacking as an appropriate first source of knowledge:

http://southallpride.wordpress.com/ - This website is more like a blog site, where no information about the place is provided, although this site boasts of a community help provider but it focuses only on the events and news going on in the certain part. I observed about currently ongoing issues in Southall by this site and some of them were interesting e.g. Drug peddling in Southall, Protest from the local residents against council's support regarding excessive number of gambling and drinking places. I believe these types of websites are more informative to the local people or persons with specific interests, but to a tourist.

This website can be used as a successful channel as it contains local community perspective and helps to inform residents regarding the hot-issues around. If publicised and regenerated with vast amount of information on positive qualities as well, it can play a major role in development of Southall as a tourist place to visitors from all communities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southall - Wikipedia is a well known website to access basic information about anything or place, but in my opinion this is also not of much interest towards visitor's regeneration in Southall. Wikipedia is containing huge amount of information on history, basic culture or characteristics, but if a higher level of information is required, it might be an adversity as it is not a reliable or trusted source of information; the reason is anyone can update or edit the information; hence authenticity of the data is a question.

My personal opinion towards this website is not very supportive but still when no other sources are available, at least this websites provides preliminary information.

http://www.visitsouthall.co.uk/ - Visit Southall is another website with less information. This website is more of an advertisement website than a visitor's informative resource. On the opening home page there are number of small adverts from local businesses and a very short note describes Southall. Other relative links takes through the different options e.g. businesses, hotels, shopping, restaurants etc. some of them are useful and some not. This website is more like a local directory with address and phone numbers mentioned on it by various business links. This website, as the link says 'Visit Southall' can be a medium for providing all sort of information and visual material to attract more visitors. But as this website is poorly made; it is of not much use. It requires a complete makeover and can be very successful if different contents like pictures, visual graphics, music or other attractive mediums added to it. Further it requires publicity upon various social networking websites or advertisement through various other media channels.

Thereafter I tried to focus on the future prospective in terms of marketing elements to be used in promoting Southall as a distinctive place for visitors from all over.

I believe that by now this report has justified the uniqueness of Southall and also provided a sense of experience one can get by visiting. Being diverse and such culturally enriched, still there are many factors and drawbacks which stopped it to grow and reach to the visitor's checklist. In further portion of this report I would like to suggest few elements of communications mix to support from marketing point of view.

Communication Mix:

There are certain requirements for marketing. If Southall needs to improve and rise up as a tourism destination, it is necessary to implement mentioned elements:

Branding:

It's the process of communicating the visitor the image of the destination, along with features, benefits it has to offer (Kolb, 2006, 219)

In my opinion every successful destination has its branding and it actually affect the number of visitors. Branding helps to clarify the destination's personality and more effectively branding works as a powerful tool on peoples mind and gives to its visitor a sense of speciality.

But question arise what are the tools to be used as branding? In brief they consist of slogans, logos, icons and imagery. It is essential that these tools must represent a theme and relates to the destination. In case of Southall, it has number of events and festivals which can be easily used as a tool of branding events and can be helpful for its popularity.

"the key to creating a brand… is to be able to choose a name, logo, symbol, package design, or other attribute that identifies a product and distinguishes it from others" (Hem and Iversen, 2004)

Along with branding Southall requires excellent level of advertising, as after creating a brand it has to spread out to point of contact with future visitors or potential consumers.

Advertising: is without a doubt a biggest tool for promotion, whether product is tangible or intangible. In terms of popularity, Southall definitely require an advertising policy in which diversified culture, colourful atmosphere, delicious food and many other specialities can be promoted as unique experiences.

Advertising is a tool which contains perfect communications mix for promotion, and it can reach out to mass rather than personal selling or one to one relations. Although each tool have its own limitations and restrictions, but in my opinion Southall can become superior destination by the help of appropriate branding and advertising. Advertising has various characteristics and it can influence mentioned categories:

Persuade new customers (Visitors) for product (Destination)

Keep bonding with existing customers

Spread awareness among mass population

Keeps increasing the reputation for the product

Can be used through various mediums at once (TV, Media, Posters, Web Adverts etc.)

Influential and less time consuming in comparison to personal relations

Further Advertising can be studied and distributed, as it should represent awareness, interest, goal or desire (outcome of advertising) must be decided and action to be made according to condition's demand. This theory is defined as AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.

Employing Advertising with Southall: Mentioned are the few beneficial key points by advertising. I am not denying the use of other communications mix but according to the situation and positioning of Southall, I strongly believe that Advertising and Branding will help at major levels. Although some more techniques like; personal selling, public relations or sales support etc. can also be added and implement all together but feasibly these other techniques or tools can be employed by the success or failure of a single tool.

Reflection/Conclusion:

London is a vast city which accommodates numerous culture and people; by personal experience, I can say that this is one of the most diversified cities in the world. If we look at London's own personal selling and destination marketing, London has made a mark and is a perfect example for the rest of the world. London has proven a tremendous success when it comes for 'branding a city'. This must be a reason why London has got such diversified areas and destinations inside its own territory. London seems to be a small continent with such vast contrast and variety in between its own people and places.

Southall, which grew up and categorised itself as a specific community location, needs special attention. Even if we apart Asian community's colours, still it has got many other interests and attractions. When we add both; diverse cultural experience with its elegance; it creates a different level experience for its visitors.

It consists of many characteristics and attractions, which is a perfect blend of enrich distinctiveness. Future target markets and research we have discussed to get an overview before implementation of any marketing planning.

How websites or other media are helpful and in which areas they are lacking behind, we have observe from few examples.

What attract people and how to reach out to distinctive and new consumers we argued in the later part.

I believe that Southall is representing an important part of diverse London. Although it has been misinterpret by people and other communities but it has got a potential to be an iconic and one of the must visit places.

By my observations and research I found that there is some lacking of appropriate marketing approach towards its popularity. If council, private organisations and communities of this place support each other, Southall can be added in undivided parts of London's famous places.

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