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The Elephant in the Room - Ethnic Marketing and Why it Matters

Posted by Sarthak Sharma on February 23, 2016
The Elephant in the Room - Ethnic Marketing and Why it Matters

There is an elephant in the room, and most of us tend to ignore it. We read about it everywhere, hear from our colleagues and friends, but then why do we choose to overlook it? We think that it's about time that we, as marketers, acknowledge the presence of this elephant; namely the ‘Immigrant Community’.

Immigrants hold a strong and distinctive place in our society. They bring with them different cultures, values and sensibilities, which makes our country diverse and unique. But when we look at the population as an audience for a product or brand, we unify them all and treat them all the same. Is that an effective and efficient move?

Let’s take a look at the situation from a different perspective and try to unlock the problem in a simpler way. Consider the animal world; where each species has its own look, character, personality traits, group orientation and methods of communication. Tigers, lions and leopards are all cats, but each one of them have evolved differently and hold a unique place in the animal kingdom. They may feed in different ways, travel in different size groups, and have different social behaviours.

So are we overlooking the fact that a part of our population is different?

Or are we just looking at a common link of being human with similar needs, wants and desires.

If there is a common link, then why do marketers consider Quebec as a different market than the rest of Canada?

The French speaking province of Quebec is culturally different from the rest of Canada and markets to its particular consumer trends and behaviours. Most marketers will respond to this with the explanation that Quebec is a big market that requires a distinct focus.

But hold on! Have we looked at these stats?


1 out of 5 people in Canada's population is foreign-born.

Canada had a total of about 6,775,800 foreign-born individuals who arrived as immigrants,
representing 20.6% of the total population.

Source: Statistics Canada, National Household Survey 2011


With changing dimensions of our country, it is imperative for the marketers to realize the growing number of different ethnicities in the pool of audience who are waiting to be tapped.

People move to different countries to have a better quality of life, seek better education for their children, and better medical facilities, to name a few. There is a sense of higher purpose. They bring in money to establish themselves and realize these goals. Which means they want to indulge in what the market has to offer.

There is huge potential. Which is untapped.

Let’s remember the basics of Marketing and Branding - Connect and create a meaningful bond with a consumer so that he is loyal to your brand.

A consumer will buy products that they need, but given a chance, will change her preferences. With such competitive business environments, brands need to look for loyal brand advocates.

That’s why it's important for marketers to create that relationship with ethnic consumers and not just translate their mainstream communication for them.

We at BTI, help brands to leverage the ethnic segment of the society to increase their footprint. We help them understand the cultural nuances and create engaging communication which translate into a meaningful relationship.

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