Pretty Young Woman

How to reach the Asian millennial

39% of Toronto and Vancouver's millennials are of Asian descent

The landscape of millennial marketing is changing in Canada.

You need to understand the role of ethnicity and immigration experiences in order to be relevant

robin brown, Environics

Over two-thirds of the millennial population in Toronto and Vancouver are first or second-generation immigrants, and 39% are Asian. If marketers want to reach the currently underserved Asian millennial segment, they will need to create meaningful multicultural content.

“It’s a cultural shift you need to understand when you’re targeting millennials,” said Environics group vice-president of consumer insights and cultural markets Robin Brown at a lunch event in Toronto last week discussing how to target the Asian millennial segment.

“You need to understand the role of ethnicity and immigration experiences in order to be relevant.”

For instance, he said while some assimilation occurs, ethnic differences — like popular food flavours — pervade. “It’s not reverting to a norm. Not all immigrants like cheese flavour as much as Canadians.”

So as the millennial landscape becomes more diverse, marketers will need to evolve alongside.

Here are some ways speakers at the event suggested marketers form a connection with the Asian millennial.


Joe Min, a group account director at interTrend Communications in Los Angeles, said, “The influence of culture is changing. We need to discover what we can leverage from the Asian mindset.”

He and his company managed to resonate with the Asian millennial in a marketing campaign for client Toyota. Asians buy 5% of North American cars, but 10% of all the Toyota Corollas, he said.

So, to further increase brand relevancy, he marketed the car using influencers and pop culture references from Asian nations. For example, he featured Asian-American pop music group Aziatix in an ad spot for the Corolla.

“You need to make sure the integration is full circle, not just associated with the product,” said Min. “It’s a new generation, there’s a new way to connect with them.”


Daniel Pillai, a writer and entertainment journalist, said a major challenge for marketers lies in reaching the subcultures under the Asian umbrella.

“There are layers of identity that need to be acknowledged,” he said. “Marketers need to bring is down to a small level.”

And, each of those subcultures have different values and attitudes. While some may be proud to represent their ethnicity, some might prefer to assimilate into North American culture.

Allister Lee, a graphic artist, said, “whether it’s an ethnic or creative community, how you overlap is key for marketers.”

One strategy Lee suggested was to market in the culture-specific Toronto neighbourhoods, like Little India or Chinatown. “There’s no marketing there. Target your spends there.”

Another strategy to reach subcultures, said Pillai, was to use symbols and holidays that bring groups together. “When it’s something that unifies a culture as a whole, like Bollywood, we come together.”


Every year, 150,000 students from Asia enroll in Canadian universities, said Brown.

Lee said that creates an opportunity for marketers in the food and beverage industry.

“Many university towns are monocultural. There are opportunities to make them more diverse.”

Add a comment

You must be to comment.

Consumer Articles

Consumer shifts put retail hiring at record low

Online shopping and automation means fewer positions to be filled on the floor

A CEO’s tips for using DIY video in consumer marketing (Column)

Vidyard's Michael Litt argues against outdated 'text tunnel vision'

What ‘customer centricity’ means to me

The season of giving is a good reminder to keep giving back

More Canadians to cross the border for Black Friday

UPS study shows many more Canadians shopping online or in store in the U.S.

Natrel whips up lactose-free butter option

Agropur Dairy to promote product with digital and in-store campaigns

Cold-FX class action lawsuit over misleading ads thrown out

Judge says Vancouver man couldn't effectively prove his claim

‘Suck it up,’ says Fisherman’s Friend in flu campaign

The lozenge maker sticks to its tough roots in TV spots

Harry Rosen’s secret to winning customer loyalty

Menswear company's founder keeps his eyes on what's next in style and design

Which shoppers are affected most by high food prices?

New study reveals pre-shopping habits and food vulnerability in food retailing