Marketing to Canadians of South Asian and Chinese Origin – An Update

One of my first blogs eight years ago was Marketing to Canadians of South Asian and Chinese Origin… a hot trend. I have had many requests to update the blog. So here goes.

Chinese and South Asian Canadians are an increasingly important audience in the market, with populations expected to grow by 80% and 130%, respectively, over the next 15 years.


But according to IPG Mediabrands, marketers have very little resources on the audience’s attitudes towards brands as well as their media consumption habits.

Closing that knowledge gap is the aim of the IPG Mediabrands Multicultural Media Study 2016. The study included 1,250 Chinese and South Asian respondents living in the Toronto and Vancouver area, and were surveyed last July.

According to the results, Chinese and South Asian Canadians have a different relationship with brands than the general Canadian population, believing more strongly that ads help them stay up-to-date with new products. Both groups were also more likely to buy based on quality rather than price and also considered themselves to be very brand loyal in higher numbers than the general Canadian population.

Chinese Canadians were more likely to report feeling closer to brands that use ethnic languages and pay more attention to those ads than South Asians.

Both Chinese and South Asian Canadians are more connected consumers than the general Canadian population, with higher rates of device ownership and time spent online.

The IPG Mediabrands report looks at the attitudes and media habits of two growing audiences, South Asians and Chinese Canadians. The study, which also sourced data from Statistics Canada and Vividata, was first conducted in 2012 to better understand these significant audiences. Stats Canada forecasts that by 2031, the Chinese population will increase by 80% and the South Asian population will increase by 131%.

The study found that 64% of Chinese and 69% of South Asian Canadians believe that ads help them keep up-to-date with new products, compared to 44% of the general population.

In addition, 61% of Chinese and 64% of South Asians tend to buy on quality, not price, compared to 54% of the general population. What’s more, 52% of Chinese and 58% of South Asian consumers consider themselves to be very brand loyal, compared to only 44% of the general population.

There is a significant reliance on advertising amongst these two particular groups, and that’s very likely to turn into a loyal consumer.

51% of Chinese respondents tend to stick to brands that they’re familiar with from their home country, and 46% pay more attention to advertising that’s in their own ethnic language.

“There are, of course, going to be new brands that they don’t recognize when they come over to Canada and that does present challenges for many advertisers. According to the study “One way to get over that is the fact that the Chinese population is more likely to pay attention to advertising in a Chinese language.

While they stick to brands they’re familiar with, that’s just a starting point, “The shorter amount of time that Chinese group has been in Canada, the more likely they are likely to stick to familiar brands. But the longer they spend in the country, the less likely they are.”

South Asians are more likely to be early adopters than Chinese Canadians. In the survey, 58% of South Asians said they are first among friends to try new products, compared to 43% of Chinese consumers. In addition, 59% of South Asians agreed that people expect them to provide good advice about products and services, compared to 51% of Chinese; and 53% of South Asians said they’re more of a spender than a saver, compared to 37% of Chinese consumers.

The study also looked at Chinese and South Asians’ media habits and their different communications preferences.

Chinese consumers are more likely to feel closer to organizations that advertise in their own ethnic language (45%) than South Asians (39%). In addition, 45% of Chinese consumers agreed they have a “strong affiliation” with brands that advertise in their own ethnic language, compared to 36% of South Asians; and 38% of Chinese consumers think ads in their home language are more meaningful to them, compared to 34% of South Asians.


“Chinese Canadians are much more dependent on in-language advertising compared to South Asians, and that’s very heavily tied to the prevalence of the English language in South Asian countries.

The study also found that Chinese and South Asians are very digitally savvy groups compared to the general population. The average number of internet-connected devices owned by the general population is 2.4, compared to 3.6 for Chinese consumers and 3.2 for South Asians.

Citing Vividata figures, the study notes that Chinese consumers spend 24 hours a week online and South Asians spend 19 hours a week online, compared to 17 hours for the general population.

For Chinese consumers, time spent on digital media is about the same in a Chinese language as in English. For example, they spend 12.6 hours a week on Chinese social media sites and 12.8 hours on social media in English. But more time is spent with Chinese online magazines (7.1 hours) and newspapers (7.1 hours) than in English (6.2 hours for each).

Another study by Environics Analytics states that South Asians passed the Chinese as the largest visible minority in Canada almost 10 years ago and over the next five years their population is projected to grow 19% to reach 2.5 million people.


What is less appreciated, analysts will tell you, is that this group – which currently makes up almost 5% of the Canadian population – is becoming “a marketer’s dream,” says Rupen Seoni, vice-president and practice leader at Environics. “They are one of the fastest-growing, more affluent, educated and media-savvy groups.”

Some marketers still know very little about this vibrant consumer group, tending to lump them with other Asians or simply ignoring them altogether but that would be a $46-billion mistake, for that’s the total estimated spending power of Canada’s South Asians.”

For info on the Social Asian market see South Asian Market You can find more info on ethnic marketing here. Also check out




Marketing 101 (for Marketers and Non-Marketers)

March 29, 2017

343 Preston Street, Ottawa, ON,

This workshop will provide participants with an overview of public sector and non-profit marketing. The workshop will teach participants how to develop a marketing  strategy and plan as well as how to transform a government/nonprofit organizations from using the traditional communications approach to an integrated, strategic marketing approach.

The workshop will focus on:

  • An overview of marketing;
  • Systematic processes and strategic elements for developing and implementing an action-oriented strategic marketing plan;
  • How to set realistic, practical marketing objectives and goals;
  • How to evaluate marketing efforts with practical ideas on how to improve execution;
  • How to develop a client-based mindset in a public sector or non-profit organization;
  • How to use market research to support a decision-making framework;
  • How to develop a system for measuring progress and monitoring performance.



Intro to Social Marketing Planning for Attitude and Behaviour Change

March 9, 2017

343 Preston Street, Ottawa, ON,

Awareness.  Are you getting tired of hearing that word? If you want to move your marketing and communications efforts beyond merely public education and awareness campaigns and into the realm of action-oriented attitude and behaviour change then this workshop is for you

The workshop will focus on:

  • How to use a step-by-step structured approach to prepare a social marketing plan that is actionable, has maximum impact, and leads to successful implementation;
  • How to present and “sell” your social marketing strategy to management;
  • How to implement a social marketing program on a very tight budget;
  • How to monitor and evaluate your inputs/outputs, outcomes and impacts;
  • How social marketing gives you a single approach: for mobilizing communities; influencing the media; activating key stakeholders; and building strategic alliances with business.




Canada’s Census Dilemma

Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.  Vin Scully

Four years ago I wrote a blog regarding my concern with government’s decision to cancel the mandatory long-form census questionnaire. Now actually I always felt that the government should rethink the census. Although the information we get from the census is great, for marketers and business much of the data comes to us too late. There has to be a way in this modern age of technology to speed up the process. I also felt that there were too many questions (and yes some very intrusive and probably should have been omitted.)

But what I would have expected the government to do when making changes to the census is consult the users of the census. The data generated by the long-form census questionnaire provide decision-makers in the public and private sectors with a deep and rich set of facts about Canadians, facts that are reliable at the local, regional and national levels.  There is no question that this change in the census would have a major impact to those of us who work in the field of marketing. The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) wrote a letter to the government at the time of the decision which highlights the concerns. here is what they said.

“The concern about the Government’s decision to cancel the mandatory long-form and introduce a voluntary new National Household Survey (NHS) is that the response rate will likely be substantially lower and the resulting data less robust, given that hard-to reach segments of the population will not likely be included among respondents. The experience of survey researchers and social scientists is that those in lower-income groups, ethnic minorities, and the wealthiest citizens are least likely to answer questions voluntarily.

This they claimed would lead to skewed data and doubts about the accuracy of information that is relied upon by public policy and business decision-makers. Without robust census data, it will be exceedingly difficult for governments to respond effectively to shifting patterns of need in the populace or to introduce changes that provide the greatest value for money. One particularly problematic outcome of the elimination of the mandatory long-form questionnaire would be the eradication of the only reliable, national source of information on aboriginal educational achievement.

The long-form data are also combined with other survey data to compute and extrapolate rates for key social and economic indicators. For example, local health authorities can use their own survey data combined with census data to calculate rates of health service utilization and many other vital statistics.

The new National Household Survey – may be biased on important dimensions such as income, education, housing status, and many others. Researchers across the country, working on projects in all areas of public policy and business decision-making, will have no data with which to correct for these biases. It will also not be possible for researchers to compare numbers from census to census, and analyze trends.

So here we are in November 2014 and what has been the results of replacing the long form with a voluntary questionnaire?


A recent Globe editorial provides some valuable information regarding the elimination of the mandatory long-form census in 2010 and replacing it with the voluntary National Household Survey.

The government claimed the compulsory form was an unwarranted intrusion into Canadians’ privacy. It was a bizarre and unsupported explanation. Statistics Canada warned from the get-go that replacing the long form with a voluntary questionnaire, even one containing the same questions, would undermine the quality of the data. The chief statistician, Munir Sheikh, resigned over the issue.

The warnings were prophetic. The compulsory long-form census in 2006 had a 93.5 per cent response rate. The voluntary one in 2011 had a 68.6 per cent response rate, even though more surveys were sent to more homes. When the 2011 data were released, they came with prominent warnings about contamination due to “higher non-response error.” Information gathered about more than one quarter of all Canadian communities wasn’t released because too few people in those places filled out the voluntary form. Aboriginal communities were particularly underrepresented.

Think-tanks, economists, scientists and academics in Canada and around the world have dismissed the 2011 data as fatally flawed. It can’t be compared in a meaningful way with the 2006 data, because they were gathered using different methodologies. Vital research projects on issues like income, unemployment and poverty that require long-term data have been compromised. And Statistics Canada can’t provide an accurate picture of how Canadians are faring, relative to 2006, since the 2008 economic crash.

Do politicians have any idea how valuable, and essential, the information in the former long-form census was for planning and delivery of health and social services across the country? Let alone the enormous array of marketers who need data to make business/marketing decisions.

Hopefully one day we will see the return of the mandatory long-form census. It only makes sense and marketers like me will rejoice.

Let me know what you think.

There are lies,damned lies and statistics – Mark Twain


CEPSM launches new In-House Training Program

In response to the growing demand for the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) to bring its marketing training In-House to departments and organizations across Canada, CEPSM has prepared value-driven, cost-saving options from seminars to certificate programs. You choose the size of audience, pick a topic and agenda or have us customize one for you.  There are a range of useful topics that are tailored for either the public sector or not-for-profit sector.


CEPSM’s In-House Consultation and Professional Development Programs provide your public sector organization with a wide range of affordable options for accessing marketing and communications experts in the comfort of your own workplace.

What are the benefits?

  • Involve more staff and stakeholders in the planning process
  • Learn about best practices for marketing and communications in the public sector
  • Save on travel costs to conferences, workshops and events
  • Get information that is tailored to your specific environment

 CEPSM provides public sector-related expertise in the following key marketing and communications disciplines:

  •  Fundamentals of Marketing 
  •  Creative Marketing Techniques
  •  Social Marketing for Behaviour Change  
  •  Social Media Monitoring 
  •  Strategic Social Media Engagement
  •  Marketing Research and Evaluation 
  •  Partnerships, Strategic Alliances and Collaborative Arrangements

CEPSM’s In-House Consultation and Professional Development Programs provide your association with a wide range of affordable options for accessing marketing and communications experts in the comfort of your own workplace.

What are the benefits?

  • Involve more staff and stakeholders in the planning process
  • Learn about best practices from the association sector
  • Save on travel costs to conferences and events
  • Get information that is tailored to your specific environment

CEPSM provides association-related expertise in the following key marketing disciplines:

  •   Association Branding
  •   Event Management
  •   Integrated Marketing Communications
  •   Membership Marketing and Recruitment
  •   Revenue Generation Assessment Selling Strategies and Techniques
  •   Social Marketing for Behaviour Change
  •   Social Media Monitoring
  •   Strategic Social Media Engagement
  •   Sponsorship Program Development
  •   Strategic Marketing Planning

Retain the Services of a CEPSM Expert at an Affordable Price

Call Claire Mills at 613-731-9851 ext. 20 or e-mail:


Get out your calendar and insert the dates of exciting events at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing

1. World Social Marketing Conference

The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing is delighted to be involved with the World Social Marketing Conference, which will take place in Toronto, Canada from April 21-23, 2013.

The conference attracts participants from many countries and you will get the opportunity to meet social marketers from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, South and North America. This is a tremendous opportunity to learn from social marketers around the world and most important the opportunity to network with social marketers like yourself.

Note: The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing will be running a pre-conference 1 day social marketing workshop entitled: Social Marketing Planning: Implementing an Effective Campaign

For more information go to:

2.  MARCOM Professional Development

The dates are set: May 28 & 29, 2013
Mark your calendar and start your training plan!
The location is set: Ottawa Convention Centre

Plan now to attend the only forum of this kind in Canada!

3. Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

The only Canadian university certificate program for government and non-profit marketers.

Feb. 13 – May 23, 2013

7 Course Modules – 8 days over 4 months

Register Today!

4. Social Marketing Strategies that Change Attitudes and Behaviour… Moving Beyond Awareness

When: February 6, 2013

Where: Delta Barrington Hotel

1875 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 3L6

(902) 429-7410


To learn about all of our training programs

Go to our web site