When Multicultural Meets Mainstream

November 6th, 2019 | Jessica Yared, Digital Marketing Manager, ACA

Marketing to the New Mainstream
If you aren’t doing multicultural marketing, you aren’t doing marketing.
– Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, Proctor & Gamble

There are over 300,000 new immigrants coming to Canada each year. By the year 2036, Canada’s multicultural consumers will represent 34% of the population while some urban centers across the country will reach over 80%. There is no question that the face of Canada is undergoing rapid and profound change, and marketers need to adapt to this change now.

That was the picture that Bobby Sahni, President & Co-founder of Ethnicity Matters, painted the morning of ACA’s Executive Forum, “Marketing to the New Mainstream”, which took place in Toronto last month.

Bobby sets the stage for the morning to come

Many of the immigrants who are choosing to make Canada their home have tremendous affluence and purchasing power. “Some of them know your brand, some of them don’t know your brand,” said Sahni. But what is certain is that this is causing rapid lifestyle and purchasing behaviour changes across the country.

The term “visible minority” should no longer be used, asserts Sahni, because it is no longer a minority of the population that is ethnic, it is the majority. It is, in effect, the new mainstream. So what are Canadian marketers doing to keep up with this shift? Here are a few suggestions that came out of the panel discussion at the executive forum:

  • Diversify your product line. Carolyn Hungate, Marketing Manager and Category Team Lead for Brita and Cleaning explained how a bit of research on how asian immigrants were used to filtering their water back home, led to an opportunity for the Brita brand. Her team launched a red Brita pitcher with special packaging for the Chinese New Year. The product launch was so successful that they followed it up with similar packaging for Diwali and Ramadan.
Photo 2: (L to R) Carolyn Hungate, Marketing Manager and Category Team Lead, Brita and Cleaning, Joanna Miles, SVP, Theatrical Marketing – Canada, Film, Entertainment One, David MacLean, General Manager, Public Mobile and Prepaid. The panelists talk about their experiences in multicultural marketing.
  • Change your distribution strategy. It’s important to understand the shopping differences of your consumers. For Public Mobile, that means understanding that many new immigrants are used to going to their local convenience store or mom and pop shop for their wireless services. David MacLean, General Manager of the brand even predicts that due to the vast numbers of immigrants coming to the country, wireless services will entirely shift from being sold in big box stores to being sold overwhelmingly in local community stores. This insight has already transformed how Public distributes its products.
  • Get the word out through communities. Influencer marketing, for example, can be key to reaching a variety of different audiences. Joanna Miles, SVP, Theatrical Marketing – Canada, Film, Entertainment One describes how her team selects influencers who are tuned in to specific audiences to provide them with free screenings to movies. Those influencers invite their followers to the screening which precipitates a huge social footprint. Were it a traditional screening, the social impact would otherwise be much smaller.
Raptors Superfan, Nav Bhatia, fires up the crowd with his inspirational story
  • Make sure your organization is all in on diversity and inclusion. David MacLean spoke highly of how a dedicated group of executives at Public are responsible for ensuring that multicultural initiatives are immersed in all aspects of the business. By contrast, Carolyn Hungate told of the passion that comes from individuals on her team, which drives multicultural initiatives forward. Entertainment One actually has a diversity and inclusion council made up of both executives and assistants. Joanna Miles explained how they come together once a month to set goals and ensure commitment to diversity and inclusion is top of mind in everyone’s day-to-day activities.

With these ideas in mind, there is one final thought from keynote speaker Nav Bhatia, the Raptors Superfan: 1. Embrace diversity and 2. Treat others the way you want to be treated.