‘Immigrants feel strongly disconnected from marketing efforts,’ says new study

Bensimon Byrne's latest Consumerology Report finds a disconnect from advertising among new Canadians.

Bensimon Byrne’s latest Consumerology Report reveals new insight on the impact of advertising among new Canadians. The Toronto-based ad agency’s commissioned quarterly survey looked at how different generations of new Canadian consumers differ in behaviour and opinion.

Generational differences are important to consider given that population growth is four times as likely to occur from immigration than from births in the country, says Bensimon Byrne pres Jack Bensimon. Differences found among the generations included a stronger preference among new Canadians for popular brands and trends (due, it says, to a strong desire to fit into Canadian culture): 75% of new Canadians surveyed said they would choose a popular Canadian item over a common item in their home country. Meanwhile, both first and second generations surveyed were less attracted to small local merchants and more likely to prefer a large chain – be it Canadian or not.

The report also found that new Canadians differ in their search for quality over their search for bargains, with 87% of those surveyed citing quality as being more important when purchasing a product; 54% of them considered finding the lowest price important, and both first and second generations placed greater importance on the reassurance of warranties and refunds as part of their purchasing incentive.

‘While emphasizing low prices and buying local may resonate with third-plus-generation Canadians,’ says Bensimon, ‘it is apparent from this round of Consumerology that this may not be the right approach with newer Canadians.’

The study revealed that a significant portion of first-generation immigrants feel strongly disconnected from marketing efforts. Almost a third strongly feel that most TV ads don’t reflect them – and not because of a lack of minority visibility or language, but because of the advertising’s lack of relevance to their own life experience.

Bensimon adds that marketers trying to reach a multicultural audience would be wise to incorporate diverse life situations into their ads, rather than focusing on ethnic casting and translations to create relevance. ‘We’re talking about differences that are not superficial in nature, and really get at the core of individual motivation.’

New Canadians surveyed also displayed little interest in non-English programming, with 80% of first-generation and 94% of second-generation Canadians spending less than an hour a week watching TV in a language other than English or French.

With respect to attitudes and opinions vis-a-vis the economy, the study revealed that 89% of Canadians perceive the economy to be in a state of decline, compared to only 25% last April. More than half of consumers surveyed believe that the economy will be stronger than it is today in a year from now, while for their part, first-gen Canadians are faring worse than others and don’t expect to fare as well in the coming year.

The report also found that:

• 72% of first-generation Canadians would rather live in diverse surroundings.

• New Canadians surveyed unanimously feel they have the same rights and opportunities as any other Canadians, more so than their third-plus-gen counterparts.

• Second-generation Canadians have similar sporting interests to third-plus-gens, while first-gen Canadians have strikingly different tastes: soccer has a strong following among first and second generation Canadians.

•Newer Canadians are significantly more interested in community theatre and symphonies: One in two new Canadians is very interested in classical music, compared with one in five third-plus-gen Canadians.

•First- and second-generation Canadians are more likely to spend time reading a newspaper, both in English as well as in their mother tongue: 45% of first generation and 30% of second-generation Canadians read a newspaper or publication published in their first language (other than French or English).

The Consumerology Report was conducted by the Gandalf Group among 1,637 Canadians between Jan. 20 and 27, and yields a margin of error of ± 2.42% 19 times out of 20. Full results of the report can be viewed here.