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Posted by Sarthak Sharma on April 25, 2016

Canada’s ethnic build up will increase another notch, with the Liberal government planning to bring in 300,000 immigrants in 2016 - The highest ever in Canadian history!

This news greatly increases the potential marketing opportunity in this largely untapped market. Unfortunately, the majority of marketers are still evaluating the ROI to invest their dollars to appeal to the immigrant community, while the minority that are quickly reacting to the changing landscape are laying the groundwork for years to come.

The dilemma of whether or not to add ethnic marketing to the mix is prevalent because of certain misconceptions. Most marketers believe executing an ethnic campaign is similar to their mainstream campaigns - It requires big bucks! In reality, it doesn’t!

Reaching out to the ethnic community only requires careful understanding of their culture. A simple understanding will lead to a community targeted approach, rather than going the ‘carpet bombing’ route which never shows impact on the numbers - and is hence, ineffective. A community based targeted approach will help Marketers to understand the clusters and hotspots for an effective marketing plan - push relevant products and services where the need exists.

The immigrant community is spread over different regions throughout the country and each community is built on different mindsets, value systems and beliefs. Therefore, for an effective community based targeted approach, marketers need to have a deep understanding of the building blocks of the community, along with the motives and goals of people who create that community.

Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Try to think like an immigrant for a minute - you are new to a country, where everything is alien. What will be your approach to settle in? The first step of the approach is to find comfort in familiarity.

A common human behaviour to minimize risk is to side with what is familiar. Immigrants want to settle in where they share a common sense of purpose with other people - this sense of belonging is critical. They feel comfortable and safe with people who share the same cultures, values and rituals. It also goes to the extent of sharing the same kind of sense of humour, following similar heroes, sharing similar life goals and challenges.

Let’s take a look at the numbers, according to the Statistics Canada NHS Survey, 85.1% of Toronto's 2.6 million visible minorities lived in four municipalities: city of Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton and Markham. Markham had the highest proportion of visible minorities - they accounted for 72.3% of its population, 66.4% of Brampton's population, 53.7% of Mississauga's and 49.1% of the population of the city of Toronto. 53.2% of South Asians lived in Toronto while 16.1% lived in Vancouver. Toronto was home to 40.1% of the Chinese community, and Vancouver to 31.1%.

Adding the new immigrants who will arrive by 2016 to the numbers will pose new opportunities for marketers. Understanding the communities and decoding cultures and style of living will show different need gaps which brands can fill in. And they will get a head start to make themselves relevant to new immigrants.

Brands should look at tailored solutions on a smaller scale - the experiences should mirror the lifestyle and aspirations of the target audience.

At BTI, we thrive on assisting brands to understand the cultural realities of different communities and develop relevant communication which matters.