Let’s face it – making a sale is much easier than making a loyal customer. While brand loyalty is fading across the country, marketers can branch out to specific ethnic communities, who are more loyal to brands than most Canadians.

Savings Over Loyalty

Brand loyalty in Canada has been on a steady decline for a while. In a recent study, roughly three out of four Canadians surveyed said they have switched away from one of their preferred brands in the past year.

This poses a peculiar challenge for marketers who spend a lot of money to attract and keep customers with a mix of points programs, contests and a steady social media presence. The increasingly intrusive online presence seems to have created more apathy than excitement. Economic uncertainty has made it a challenge to budget for better products, so shoppers tend to choose discounted products from lesser known brands.

A Growing Opportunity

Not everyone shares this pessimistic view of advertising. A sharp divide in attitudes can be observed along ethnic lines.

A 2016 study conducted by IPC Mediabrands shows that South Asian (people originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) and Chinese Canadians are more receptive to ads and consider themselves more brand loyal than the general population. The study surveyed 1,250 Chinese and South Asian Canadians in Vancouver and Toronto. It found that 44% of the general population finds that ads can help them stay informed on new products, as opposed to 54% of Chinese and 69% of South Asians in Canada.

Because of Canadian immigration policy favouring highly skilled labour, new immigrants are arriving in a much better financial position than previous generations.

Representing about 5% of Canada’s population, South Asians have a combined purchasing power of 46 billion dollars, and are situated in the country’s large urban areas, mostly in Toronto (834 000) and Vancouver (252 000). Many more South Asians have made their homes in Calgary, Edmonton and Montréal.

In 2013, Chinese and South Asians reported a 5% and 9% growth in household spending while the average household reported a mere 2% growth.

A Boon for Premium Brands

Contrary to most Canadians, both demographic groups tend to weigh quality over pricing. This is excellent news for premium brands who may be having a hard time selling high-end products to an audience that has become increasingly more austere.

Canadians of Asian origin are conscientious of the effect that their purchases may have on their reputation and public image. Usually more educated than the rest of the population, they want to make informed purchases, searching for information from review websites and feedback from people they know. More so than the general population, they rely on their friends for valuable advice.

Brands can emulate these relationships by acting friendly on social media, but are ultimately more successful at converting and keeping these customers if they can engage them in real-life interactions. This has proven effective across the board, and can be key to swooning new purchasers who want to build trust with new providers.

By hiring members of their communities as your brand ambassadors, you are investing in long-term trust which can bring long-term rewards. Presence in important festivals like the Chinese New Year, Diwali and Ramadan are the best way to reach this untapped pool of loyal leads.

The Language Factor

First generation Chinese immigrants are particularly reliant on ethnic media to inform their choices. When their native language is used in an ad, 48% of readers feel closer to it and 46% will pay more attention. About three out of four Chinese Canadians have perfect fluency in English, while 95% of South Asians have full command of the language. By having staff and documentation available in Mandarin and Cantonese, you will ultimately reach more people who are more likely to stay on board.

Experiential marketing has shown to yield some of the best conversion rates in the industry. By making the in-person experience flawless for members of these two large cultural communities, you’ll be getting the most bang for your buck.

East and South Asians want to buy into the Canadian economy, but they want to make smart purchases. Give them value and they will give you their business.