Micro-segmenting ethnic millennials

TrendSpotter's Marion Chan on the importance of segmenting in ethnic markets

When selling products to ethnic buyers, it’s important not to make the mistake so many marketers do —treating multicultural Canada as one homogeneous market, said Marion Chan. The principal of TrendSpotter Consulting says marketers must remember that a 65-year-old immigrant is very different from a 25-year-old —and those who target ethnic millennials are likely to find a more receptive audience for Canadian products.

Chan is talking about micro-segmenting first-generation immigrants, distinguishing between those who move from countries in Asia and South Asia to Canada in their 20s and those who arrive in middle age.

“Many retailers are focused on ethnic consumers in general,” she said.

Millennials are born between 1980 and 1998 and are estimated to be responsible for $70 billion in spending in Canada. Statistics Canada projects that they will rise to 40% of the population by 2016.

Her research has found that the ethnic millennials coming to Canada are just-so-slightly older (over 25) and just a little further into their careers than Canadian-born millennials.

“They are in their professional lives, they have slightly higher household incomes, they are slightly more likely to have a family,” she said. “Compared to a Canadian millennial, they are a little more established. So they’re in a consumer mindset.”

For marketers, the next step is identifying North American products that might be an easier fit with the quickly-evolving tastes of the younger immigrant. A good example — if a surprising one — is breakfast cereal, said Chan. She points out that most South Asian and Chinese cultures have morning meals that look very different from what North Americans understand as breakfast — many of them involving soup, rice or flatbread.

But while it may be hard to market breakfast cereal to a 40-year-old new Chinese Canadian, it is common to see new Asian immigrants in their late 20s and early 30s with cereal in their cupboards. “The key is finding those commonalities of culture and products they can easily adopt and adapt,” said Chan.

Younger members of multicultural communities also may not need to have entirely new marketing campaigns created for their ears, as older ones do. They can be reached with mainstream messaging, as long as it is tailored for them.

“If you segment ethnic millennials,” Chan said, “They’re the ones you’re going to be able to get to move the needle.”

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