The [Not-So] Hidden Power of the Ethnic Consumer

The [Not-So] Hidden Power of the Ethnic Consumer

As retailers and manufacturers prepare for expanding ethnic consumers groups in Canada, knowing who they are and how they shop will be helpful in developing long-term growth strategies. Across Canada, South Asians and Chinese consumers represent the two largest ethnic consumer groups, accounting for 1,924,600 and 1,577,100 people, respectively, according to Statistics Canada.

As these two large consumer cohorts make trips to different stores in Canada to fulfill their fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) needs, retailers and manufactures may want to consider language beyond English and French to appeal to and connect with these shoppers. Notably, Mandarin and Punjabi are the leading languages for Chinese and South Asians in Canada, with 47% of each ethnic consumer group speaking one of them.

While knowing how to communicate with these powerful and growing consumer groups will help brands build relationships, having a deeper knowledge into consumer preferences and lifestyles will help deliver on these groups’ product and service needs. Specifically, this insight will highlight the types of products retailers and manufacturers should focus their multilingual campaign efforts on to ensure the right consumers are finding the right products in the right stores.

South Asian consumers outspend the average consumer on specialty Eastern foods by more than 2000%

For example, across food categories, South Asian consumers outspend the average consumer on specialty Eastern foods by more than 2000%. In addition to specialty eastern foods, rounding out the top five categories among South Asian consumers are coconut water (+342%), rice (+273%), hot tea (+204%) and salad/cooking oil (+178%), as consumers opt for foods that resemble traditional meals in their own culture.

Chinese consumers have their own unique shopping preferences, with Chinese food leading the way: these consumers spend 994% more on Chinese foods than the average consumers. Along with their South Asian counterparts, Chinese consumers also spend more on coconut water (+257%) than the typical Canadian consumer, one of two beverages in the top five food products.

When it comes to assortment strategies, knowing what ethnic consumers don’t buy is as important as knowing what they do buy. And among South Asian and Chinese consumers in Canada, we see many similarities in the products they buy less of than the average consumer.

As manufacturers and retailers develop and execute their sales and marketing plans, they need to keep the strong ethnic diversity of Canada in mind. Taking the time to speak their language and promote the right products at the right time to the right consumers will give FMCG players a competitive advantage and a leading edge in earning a spot in the ethnic consumers shopping basket.


The insights in this article were derived from Nielsen’s Unleash The Power Of The Ethnic Consumer Study, January 2018.