Just having an interpreter on staff and celebrating the lunar New Year is not enough


There is a massive and growing market segment for Canadian auto dealers that marketing campaigns seem to ignore far too often. Between 2007 and 2016, this population segment grew by 2.6 million; and currently makes up about seven percent of Canada’s entire population. In the past 10 years, this group accounted for $55 billion in portfolio investments and approximately $4 billion/year in credit card spending. Who is this exceptionally lucrative market segment? The answer is Canadian newcomers.


As we on the Environics Research Cultural Markets team have often noted, the current Canadian newcomer population no longer fits the narrative of the struggling immigrant. With over 60 percent of newcomers entering Canada between 2011 and 2016 through economic immigration programs, Canada’s new newcomers are much more prepared and financially savvy than they have been in the past – and businesses need to take note.


Canadian auto dealers can’t afford to rely on outdated stereotypes of immigrant populations for their marketing efforts. Just having an interpreter on staff and celebrating the lunar New Year is not enough. If businesses want to be successful with this lucrative community, they need to understand who it is they are really talking to and, as I recently noted in this piece for Automotive News Canada, they need to tailor their messaging and practices accordingly.


In Vancouver, for example, where the ethnic Chinese population makes up about 500,000 of the 2.5 million residents, auto dealers need to understand the major differences between those who arrived in Canada from Hong Kong in the 90s and the more recent arrivals from mainland China. While these two groups hold many cultural similarities, newer arrivals are much more likely to be conspicuous consumers than their longer tenured counterparts.


For recent Chinese newcomers, luxury automobiles are often seen as social status symbols, and they will likely gravitate toward brands they knew in China. These types of vehicles will often be seen as comparative values to these consumers in Canada, because back home in China, luxury brands generally carry extremely high import duties.


When looking for ways to reach this Chinese newcomer audience, Vancouver dealers should note that data from our most recent Financial Services Among New Canadians Syndicated Study found that, while Chinese newcomers are among the least likely newcomers to use Facebook on a regular basis, they are still present there, with 56 percent citing regular use of the social network.


All of this simply underscores the idea that this new population of Canadian newcomers is not always what you might think. Only by understanding the different cultural nuances among their market segments can auto dealers in Canada expect to capitalize on this billion-dollar market.


Contact Bernice Cheung, VP of Cultural Markets and Financial Services, for more information on our Syndicated Newcomer Studies and how they can help your business.

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