South Asian & Chinese Canadians – A Market To Grow With

Statistics Canada recently published the findings of the 2006 Census. It showed that visible minority population surpasses the 5 million mark in 2006 with an estimated 5,068,100 people, representing 16% of the total population of the country. In 2001 census, the visible minority population was estimated at 3.98 million or 13.4% of the total population. Thus between 2001 and 2006, the visible minority population increased by 27.24%; five times faster than the growth in total population, which grew by 5.4% during the same period. Moreover, according to Statistics Canada projections, visible minority could account for 20% of the total population in next ten years, that is, by 2017.

South Asian and Chinese-Canadians (termed SACHIN for convenience) comprise of about 50% of the total visible minority population. First time in 2006, the South Asian Canadians population estimated at 1,262,865 exceeded the Chinese-Canadian population estimated at 1,216,570. Ontario has the highest number of South Asian and Chinese-Canadians, 794,170 and 576,980 respectively. British Columbia has second highest numbers, 262,290 South Asians and 407,225 Chinese.

The above numbers, that is, 5 million people constituting 16% of the total population may not stop many marketers in their tracks, however, further analysis of the data would. The visible minority market, especially SACHIN market segment is highly attractive and provides huge potential for growth because of the following factors:

1. Younger market: The visible minority population is younger than the average for the total population. As per 2006 census, the median age of the visible minority population is 33 years versus 39 years for the total population in Canada. Being young and possibly in the early phase of family life, they would have diverse requirements ranging from buying home, car, young children needs, capital goods, recreation activities, employment, entertainment and savings. If marketers could reach and connect with the visible minority market segment and gain its trust and loyalty, the young visible minority could be in for a long haul, as customers and clients.

2. Easily Accessible: Visible minority population, especially SACHIN, is concentrated in few metropolitan cities. About 84% of the South Asian-Canadians and 81% of Chinese-Canadians live in Ontario and the BC compared to 49% of all Canadians. Thus SACHIN are easily accessible to marketers for their advertising campaigns and products / services. Concentration of visible minority is a major advantage these days because prices of gas and diesel are skyrocketing. According to recent news, the price of diesel has increased by 30% in one year and about 85% of the consumer products are transported via trucks . This increase in cost of transportation is being passed on to consumer gradually, increasing prices of consumer products. Product distribution to SACHIN markets may not be adversely affected by the increase in costs of transportation, as these are concentrated in two provinces, primarily in the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver Areas.

Similarly, marketers can use local and regional media to communicate their message to the target market, and be discrete, effective, and cost-efficient due to smaller spread with minimal noise and wastage.

3. High Aspirations: The emigration from Asian countries got momentum in early 1990s.Thus most of the immigrants who make up the visible minority group are relatively new, being here for less than 10 years. They are not only younger in age but are also young with regards to being in Canada. New Canadians are motivated and open to new ideas, product & services and have many needs to fulfill. Moreover, generally immigrants are made of a unique fiber. They are risk takers, enterprising, ambitious and optimistic. I believe because of these traits people leave their homes (in most cases) and migrate to a new land to look for better opportunities. Immigrants come with high aspirations, willing to go an extra mile, work hard and play hard. This emotional aspect provide an opportunity to marketers to catch them young, understand and satisfy their emotional needs and inculcate a trust. In return the marketers would get brand loyal customers for life!

4. High Growth Rate: SACHIN are young, easily accessible and motivated; they have a high population growth rate as well, specially the South Asians Canadians. Thus businesses can grow by leveraging the SACHIN market and winning a dominant market share in this segment. According to the 2006 Census, the South Asian Canadians population grew by 37% from 917,000 in 2001 to 1,262,900 in 2006. This is the highest growth rate among visible minority groups. The Chinese and Afro-Canadian population had the second highest growth rate at about 18% during the same time period. Most of this growth was in Ontario and the British Colombia.

On the other hand, 63% of all Canadians are between ages 20 and 64. Furthermore, average fertility rate for total women population is 1.53 children per women. The fertility rate is higher in immigrant women at 3.1 children per women. For comparison, the US has a fertility rate of 2.1 children per women. Based on above, leveraging the high-growth SACHIN market segment is vital for Canadian companies to offset the affect of aging population and lower average fertility rates.

The Asian-Canadian market is a “YEA-HA” for marketers. YEA-HA for Young, Easily Accessible with High Aspiration. I believe YEAHA factor will be significant for the future growth of many Canadian businesses. It’s time for all marketers to consider YEA-HA seriously; savvy marketing companies are already doing so and reaping the benefits.


About Fazal Siddiqi
Fazal Siddiqi Writes on current marketing, branding, communications, diversity and socio-economic opportunities & challenges. He lives in Canada and works for OPAL Marketing Group.

9 Responses to South Asian & Chinese Canadians – A Market To Grow With

  1. Good points. A couple of comments:

    1. You were looking at changes in Asian-Canadian and SouthAsian Canadian since the 1990’s. Was there a reason why you did not include trends based on the 1996 Census also and not just the 2001 and 2006 ?

    2. RE fertility rates…. there is a major difference in fertility rates between South Asian and Asian (Chinese and similar) immigrants. The population pyramids on the home countries are vastly different. Would it help (from a marketing point of view) to differentiate between the two and then look at the different fertility rates and implications for marketing ?

    Please respond to my comments and thanks for a well-written informative article.


  2. Fazal Siddiqi says:

    Hi Fred,

    Thanks for your comments.

    1. I wrote the article from Marketers’ perspective and believe it is adequate to analyze current demographics with some historic and futre perspectives for developing marketing strategies. Thus I considered results of last two Census. The objective is to highlight white space (gaps) based on current scenario and ascertain how the immigrants market would shape up in future and impact the overall market.

    2. Further analysis of the fertility rates could be a nice-to-have data but might not be a must-have data, given the small size of Asian Canadians market, about 2.5 million. I am a proponent of keeping things simple and avoiding info-overload, unless the ROI justifies further zeroing in and segmentation.


  3. Some chick says:

    I know I’m really late into this, but marketing to new Canadians would be different from marketing to non-white Canadians who were born and/or raised in Canada. We have different needs from immigrants, having lived in the country all (most) of our lives.

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