Marketing to Canadians of South Asian and Chinese Origin… a hot trend

One of the most difficult audiences for public sector marketers to reach are Canadians of South Asian and Chinese origin. A recent study by Solutions Research Group’s Diversity in Canada 2 study indicated that this group is accessible but you need to do your homework.

Here are some of the key facts from this study :

The 2006 Census enumerated nearly 2.5 million (2,479,500) individuals who identified themselves as South Asian or Chinese, representing a growth rate of 27% over 2001. This rate of growth was five times faster than the 5.4% increase for the Canadian population as a whole in the same period.

Two of the fastest-growing Canadian population segments are also among the most wired with 88% PC penetration in the household (above the Canadian general population average of 83%)

Canadian Chinese Consumers

Internet use is significantly above average among Mandarin-speaking recent immigrants from Mainland China—89% used the Internet in the last week, with 2.6 hours dedicated to online use versus only 1.6 hours with TV and less than 1 hour per day for radio.

Google is the top search destination, while Yahoo! is ahead of MSN for instant messaging for Chinese Canadians. YouTube and Facebook were in the top 10, as were 3 major Chinese sites.

Fairchild Radio was the top radio station in Toronto and Vancouver among Cantonese-speakers, while English-language news stations captured the top spot among Mandarin-speaking Chinese (680 News in Toronto and News 1130 in Vancouver).

Fairchild TV was number one in Toronto among Cantonese-speakers while Citytv, Fairchild, CBC and Omni 1 and 2 were in the top spots for Mandarin-speakers.

Sing Tao was the leading Chinese-language paper in both Toronto and Vancouver, and the Toronto Star and Vancouver Sun were the leading English-language dailies in Toronto and Vancouver, respectively Canadian South Asian Consumers

Among South Asian Canadians in the 15-29 age group, 89% are Internet users and 71% of those 30-49 use the Internet on a weekly basis.

Google, Yahoo!, Hotmail, MSN, Facebook and YouTube were the top portals among South Asians. South Asian sites and BBC sites were also popular.

In Vancouver, the recently-launched Red-FM emerged as the leading South Asian radio destination, with a 43% weekly reach. In Toronto, 680 News is the leading station while 101.3 CMR (Canadian Multicultural Radio) is in the #2 spot.

On TV, Alpha Punjabi was the leading TV brand in Vancouver, followed by ATN, Global and Vision. In Toronto, Citytv and ATN were tied for the top spot.

The Toronto Star was the leading paper in the GTA among South Asians. In Vancouver, The Province took the top spot. Ajit was the leading South Asian newspaper in both markets.

An important finding in the research was the extent to which Canadian Chinese and South Asian consumers find in-language advertising relevant. 80% of Canadian Chinese and 78% South Asian consumers say that they find ads by major Canadian companies in their first language in addition to English “useful” with over 50% finding them “very useful.”

For more information contact David Ackerman at or 416.323.1337 x 25.

From Ipsos Reid  Ethnic marketing has become one of the hottest trends  and Chinese and South Asian markets are particularly tantalizing.

The most compelling argument for considering ethnic markets is based on sheer numbers. The upcoming census show that the immigrant population in Canada has reached an amazing 5.6 million residents, of which more than one million live in Vancouver. Chinese/South Asian immigrants represent more than half of the total influx. Even more astounding are the projections for the future. Stats Canada anticipates that by the year 2017, there will be 7 to 9.3 million immigrants living in Canada, an increase of 24–65% over existing levels. This means that in 2017, roughly 1 in 5 Canadians will be a member of a visible minority (in British Columbia, that ratio will be more like 1:3). Vancouver and Toronto are major destinations for new immigrants: over two-thirds of new immigrants locate in these cities.

The trend is clear: immigration currently represents roughly 60% of Vancouver and Toronto’s population growth, and it will only continue to increase as a factor.

Ipsos Reid have drawn several conclusions from their studies. First, it’s clear that Chinese and South Asians are substantially different from mainstream Canadians, demographically, behaviorally, and attitudinally. By and large, they prefer to be communicated with in-language: 60–70% of them want to see marketing and communications messages delivered in their mother tongue. One survey showed that 65% of Chinese Canadians pay more attention to advertising if it is in Chinese rather than English; a further 63% were more likely to deal with businesses that were more involved in their communities.

The purchasing power represented by Chinese and South Asians is also significant. They are generally younger, with 70% under the age of 45. Income comparisons show that 54% of South Asians have household incomes of more than $60K compared to 46% of mainstream Canadians, and that 48% of Chinese Canadians have investible assets of $50K or more compared to only 36% of mainstream Canadians.

Second, organizations need to have an in-house expert who understands how to target this market. This expert must know the market, have contacts in it, and be able to get things done. Without this expert, a lot of time and effort will be wasted. Third, a sustained effort is critical. Results will not be achieved overnight; a long-term, multifaceted effort is necessary for an organization to establish a presence in the market. Community-based and sponsorship initiatives are important, as are forming connections with opinion leaders who can provide advice and influence. Most marketers will not forge a quick or direct path to market success, and will have to be patient to recognize meaningful ROIs.

Despite the challenges of penetrating a new and unfamiliar segment, there’s little doubt that marketing to ethnic groups like Chinese and South Asians is a must.

Finally at MARCOM there will be a very interesting presentation:

Demystifying the Chinese Canadian Market

Cindy Gu, President and Publisher
The Epoch Times
Shawn Li, Director, Marketing and Sales
The Epoch Times

With Census 2006, the immigrant population in Canada reached 20% for the first time. In Toronto and Vancouver, the foreign-born population now accounts for 40-50%.

This session will demonstrate how to effectively communicate and market to the Chinese Canadian community; the largest visible minority group with the third most spoken language after English and French,  through an insightful look at their profiles, demographics, language loyalty, psychographics, media habits, geographic distribution, culture and values.


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