Multicultural Marketing: Tokenism Won’t Cut It – New Canadian Media – NCM

Good review by Gautam Nath of Robin Brown and Kathy Cheng’s book, Migration Nation: A Practical Guide to Doing Business in Globalized Canada:

Migration Nation introduces the concept of the Cultural Lens, which affects how people view products, services, or brands in the Canadian landscape. The Cultural Lens is shaped by one’s ethnic culture, pre-migration experiences with products and brands, and post-migration experiences of acculturation. Together, all those factors influence one’s habits and attitudes towards retailing, service style, and service conventions.

Our tastes and preferences are shaped by the language, cultural, religion, values, and habits from our countries of origin. Brown and Cheng provide the example of Chinese Canadians who, they say, may like orange juice, but “tend not to drink it in the mornings, unlike the mainstream, as they find it too cold and acidic, and therefore prefer something hot for breakfast.”

Yet, while such practices may trend culturally, they also vary by individual, particularly post-migration. Many immigrants experience a period of disorientation as they scramble to get their ducks in a row, but over a few years, a greater sense of belonging and ease develops as they acculturate, and although they never really forget or lose their cultural roots, a sense of independence begins to balance their earlier cultural practices.

“The settlement journey as we conceive it is not a linear process of leaving one’s ethnic culture behind and adopting something else,” the authors write. They very simply and meaningfully explain the stages of disorientation, orientation, belonging, and independence that characterize the immigrant’s settlement journey. It makes for interesting reading for any marketer, but perhaps especially for those not born overseas or who have not lived in another country.

Understanding the settlement journey will help marketers to better understand their consumers and the need to communicate with them in a more relevant and actionable manner.

Multicultural Marketing: Tokenism Won’t Cut It – New Canadian Media – NCM.

Consumers More Borderless Than Multinationals – New Canadian Media – NCM

Environics Canada USFascinating market research and comparison between Canadian and American acculturation models and behaviours by Robin Brown of Environics.

The cliché of the melting pot versus the cultural mosaic appears to still apply, at least for those of Chinese and South Asian origin (two of the largest communities in Canada):

Our recent research compared Chinese and South Asian Americans and Canadians’ level of acculturation using Geoscape and & Environics Analytics CultureCodes see graph. These analytical tools classify the population into five categories of acculturation based on their home language, knowledge of English/French and period of immigration. We found much higher levels of acculturation in the U.S. than in Canada for both groups. This results from a number of factors, including the “melting pot” vs. multicultural culture of each country. Of course, this means that these populations will differ and marketing efforts to reach them must navigate that difference.

But, understanding the diasporas may not be the biggest challenge faced by multinationals. The current reality for many multinationals is that many of their consumers are in some respects more global than they are. There may be good business reasons why an Asian Canadian cannot find Nescafe iced coffee here in Canada, but consumers are not aware or don’t care about the constraints of separate business units, tariffs and supply chain logistics. They are connected globally and informed of products and services that are used by their ethnic diaspora across the world.

Consumers More Borderless Than Multinationals – New Canadian Media – NCM.

Immigrants don’t turn ‘blue’ the moment they arrive – The Globe and Mail

A useful counterpoint to the thesis of John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker in The Big Shift, by Michael Adams and Robin Brown, nuancing the Ibbitson-Bricker argument that Canadian immigrants and new Canadians are inherently more conservative politically:

But the story is more complicated.

The idea that migrant attitudes are defined by a focus on economic mobility is outdated. These days, middle-class Chinese and Indians who are solely focused on material gain are better off staying in their home countries. Today’s migrants are often people who voluntarily accept a decline in status and even income to move to Canada. Young professional immigrants who choose Canada are often seeking gains in quality of life more than standard of living. Focus group participants have told us they want to raise their children outside the hierarchies and pressures of their home countries. South Asian immigrants, in particular, are attracted to Canada’s multicultural society, believing they and their children are enriched through exposure to diverse cultures. Many of the Chinese immigrants we speak to are tired of “striving” and are trading off more opportunity in China for less stress in Canada.

One of the success stories of Canada’s model of immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism is that all parties engage ethnic communities. Minister Kenney is the best illustration of this approach, given his extensive and energetic outreach.

Unlike in Europe or the US, there is no xenophobic political party. Immigration-related debates are over policy and program approaches, not the fundamental view of Canada as a diverse, multicultural society.

Immigrants don’t turn ‘blue’ the moment they arrive – The Globe and Mail.

The reply by Bricker and Ibbitson based upon a wider survey and the election results, showing gains for the Conservatives in ridings with a large proportion of ethnic voters:

 You have to figure immigrants out to win elections 

The counterpart to both articles is of course Susan Delacourt’s Shopping for Votes, which downplays macro trends given that parties, and the Conservatives have done that particularly well, are micro-targeting in terms of policies and programs, treating voters more as consumers than with fixed party preferences.