Diversity marketing as strategy: Jaime Christian on marketing campaigns targeted to Chinese Canadians

Two weeks ago, we discussed the lucrative Chinese-Canadian market.  With over 1.35 million Chinese living in Canada, it is one of the largest ethnic groups in the country. They are also geographically concentrated with 72% living in just two cities – Toronto (436,000) and Vancouver (348,000), which present the opportunity to effectively market your product or service to them.

This week, we’ll examine the strengths and weakness of marketing campaigns initiated by corporations to reach out to Chinese Canadians.

Beyond a handful of industries (banks, telecoms, food, and automobiles), large companies are not doing enough to target this large ethnic group. This presents an opportunity for local small businesses to take advantage of the disparity and reach out to a community that feels under-appreciated – 61 per cent of Chinese Canadians would like to see more companies advertise specifically to their communities.

A few companies have gone after the Chinese-Canadian market in recent years:

Company Campaign
Clorox’s Brita
  • In celebration of the Year of the Dragon (2012), Clorox launched the Red Grand Brita, coloured red, which is synonymous with good luck. The packaging also focused on the Chinese New Year.
  • Sales of Brita water pitchers grew by more than 25 per cent in January and February of 2012 following it’s release.
Kraft Canada
  • After successfully launching Kraft Ka Khana, a website focused on South Asian recipes, Kraft did the same for the Chinese community.  The website focused on teaching Chinese Canadian consumers ways to incorporate Kraft products into traditional recipes.
  • Since the campaigns launched, awareness of the Kraft brand has increased by 40 per cent within the Chinese community.
  • Starting in 2008, select Walmarts began offering an array of products targeted at the Chinese New Year. These included traditional foods, decorations, entertainment and greeting cards.
  • The company looked at demographic data to identify ethnic clusters and selected 20 stores to offer these cultural products.
  • Tested two new Asian flavours in the Vancouver and Toronto Market; Wasabi and Spicy Curry.
  • Launched an advertising campaign for the Year of the Dragon in 2012. Ads depicted the front of their car as a dragon.

These campaigns have one underlying thing in common. None of were sloppy projects where English advertising was simply translated. Each had Chinese-Canadians in mind from the beginning, incorporating significant cultural elements that speak to the target audience.

It is often more important to think about what we have in common than our differences. These campaigns concentrated on family, celebration, and food. All hit underlying values that are important to Canadians – no matter what country or culture they are from. The key success factor these companies demonstrated was making them culturally relevant, leveraging elements that spoke to the consumer’s traditions and values.

Before going after an ethnic market, you need to get to know their cultural cues, traditions, and core values. Spend time to research — ask your existing ethnic customers how you can improve your services or products for them.  The more you understand about your target audience, the better you’ll be able to cater to them.

Jaime Christian is an Associate of Altus Strategy Group, a consulting firm that helps businesses solve their marketing and strategy issues.  He is part of the Ethnic Marketing practice – helping clients understand and target this lucrative population through listening to the consumer’s authentic voice.  He received his BA in Economics from Queen’s University. This article was commissioned by Altus Strategy Group and published in partnership with Star Business Club.

E-mail: Jaime.Christian@AltusStrategy.com

Website: www.AltusStrategy.com

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1. Jonathan Paul. Brita’s first ethnic program turned red into green. Strategy Online, March 13, 2012. http://strategyonline.ca/2012/03/13/britas-first-ethnic-program-turned-red-into-green/#ixzz1zrKCsPT4
2. Kristin Laird. Making Sense of ‘Linsanity’ and Understanding Chinese Moms. Marketing Magazine, March 21, 2012. http://www.marketingmag.ca/news/marketer-news/making-sense-of-linsanity-and-understanding-chinese-moms-multicultural-marketing-2012-48987
3. Kristin Laird. Wal-Mart Celebrating Chinese New Year. Marketing Magazine, January 23, 2008. http://www.marketingmag.ca/news/marketer-news/wal-mart-celebrating-chinese-new-year-12932
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