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Articles
Posted: December 7, 2012
by Bernice Cheung

Diversity Marketing as strategy: the best new market to tap

This is the first in a series of weekly columns on marketing to immigrant Canadians by Altus Strategy Group Senior Consultant Bernice Cheung. 

Immigrants are going to grow your business, here’s why.


In less than 20 years, 63% of the population in Toronto will be ‘visible minorities,’ according to Statistics Canada.  Currently, only a third of Canada’s population growth is due to fertility, and that trend has been present for about a decade.


As baby boomers die off and Canadians have fewer children to replenish the population, immigrants will be the growth engine of Canada, accounting for over 80% of Canada’s population growth by 2031.  Here are a few things you should know about them:


  • Quarter of a million a year: Every year since 2000, approximately 250,000 immigrants come to Canada, and this is forecasted to continue.

  • They love big cities: 74% of immigrants reside in three major cities – Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.  Most immigrants prefer to settle in Census Metropolitan Areas with population over 100,000+.

  • They are well educated: Almost half of all immigrants held a university degree, while 72% of skilled workers who immigrated through economic class have degrees.  However, recognition of their credentials and ability to find jobs that match their skills are major deterrents to their success.

  • Most are well-adjusted to life in Canada:  Due to policies to increase proportion of economic immigrants, 63% of New Canadians in 2011 immigrated through economic status. This means they’ve reached satisfactory levels of education, language proficiency, experience, arranged employment, and adaptability.

  • Many are from Asia: In 2010, Philippines, India and China represented 35% of all immigrants. Tagalog is the fastest growing language in Canada, and the top three non-official languages in Toronto are Italian (3.2%), Cantonese (3.2%), and Punjabi (3.0%).

  • There are pockets with high income potential: Though the stereotype exists that immigrants are struggling to make a living, there is a large income disparity within immigrant groups.  Canadian-educated immigrants, both male and female, lead native born Canadians in annual earnings. In a 2010 study, Canadian-educated male immigrants’ average income was $7,000 higher than Canadian-born males.

  • They have a strong desire for home ownership: Those in Canada for over 25 years are significantly over-indexed on home ownership compared to native Canadians.


Will you be motivated to start thinking about the immigrant market? Immigrants will be the fastest growing group of customers for Canadian businesses – the sooner you start examining this market, the sooner you’ll be able to create an alignment.


What is your next step?  Conduct research into different ethnic groups & their needs?  Select a specific niche to target?  Pilot a new way to market your products or services? Translate your marketing materials into a different language?  Whatever it is, the time to do something is now.


See our next article, on ways to examine the immigrant opportunity, in two weeks.

Bernice Cheung is the Senior Consultant of Altus Strategy Group, a consulting firm that helps businesses solve their marketing and strategy issues.  She leads the Ethnic Marketing practice – helping clients understand and target this lucrative population through listening to the consumer’s authentic voice.  She received her MBA from Richard Ivey School of Business, and an Honours B Commerce degree from DeGroote School of Business.

E-mail: Bernice.Cheung@AltusStrategy.com

Website: www.AltusStrategy.com

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