The Growing Ethnic Market in British Columbia*

British Columbia’s growth is coming from international immigration: Vancouver is already among the most multicultural cities in the world. Over the next twenty years, the ethnic population is expected to become even greater, with international immigration projected to account for between 60%-70% of British Columbia’s population growth. By 2031, nearly two-thirds (63%) of the Vancouver population is expected to be a visible minority.

Educated immigrants are settling in the Lower Mainland: Nine-in-ten (90%) immigrants to British Columbia settle in the Lower Mainland and Southwestern region of the province. These immigrants are educated, with 70% having at least a post-secondary degree or diploma.

English is a second language for many: While most (96.6%) of the British Columbia population knows English, only 71.7% of the population speak it as their primary mother tongue. Within Metro Vancouver, only 57.5% speak it as their primary mother tongue. Outside of English, the top 4 languages (Punjabi, Cantonese, Chinese, and Mandarin) account for ~469,000 Metro Vancouver residents, presenting a significant marketing opportunity for businesses.

Nearly two-thirds of the BC population is projected to be a visible minority in 2031


Marketing Research Conducted by Insights West

  • Between Feb 12-17, 2013, Insights West surveyed 25 of BC’s top marketers.
  • Marketing budgets range from <$500K – $10 Million+
  • Total marketing budgets represent ~$75 Million.

Research Results

Spending on ethnic marketing is relatively low, but is deemed important: 90% of marketers feel ethnic marketing is very/somewhat important relative to other marketing activities. However, currently 62% of marketers are spending less than 10% of their budget on ethnic marketing.

There’s still room to improve: Only 10% of marketers rate their company’s ethnic marketing as being ‘very’ effective. Among the most effective means of communication are participation in multicultural events, translating signage, and interacting in the preferred language.

More marketing is coming: More than two-thirds (68%) of marketers expect their company to be doing more ethnic marketing over the next two years.
Knowledgeable staff are needed: The top barriers to conducting more ethnic marketing are a lack of understanding about the ethnic communities and staffing issues (not enough staff/not the right people).

Most marketers are doing some ethnic marketing; few are doing a lot


Most feel that ethnic marketing is somewhat/very important relative to other marketing priorities



*Source: Insights West. New Consumer Insights & Best Practices For Reaching the Ethnic Market in BC. February, 2013

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