Marketing to Toronto’s ethnic groups: Ryerson

A new study from the university peels back a layer of the city's demographics, revealing a diverse potential market requiring a targeted, thoughtful approach.

Whenever international events like this summer’s FIFA World Cup capture the world’s attention, media eyes in Canada often turn towards Toronto, where one of the most diverse ethnic populations in the world resides.

This vast market is often an untapped one for many marketers, due to the complexities required in developing media and marketing plans for them. But a new study, ‘Ethnic Markets in the Greater Toronto Area,’ from Ryerson University has attempted to shed some light on Toronto’s ethnic populations, for marketers interested in reaching them.

Comprising nearly half of the Greater Toronto Area’s population base, individual ethnic and immigrant communities can be as large as 100,000 people, each with their own brand loyalties, preferences and preferred shopping locations. The best way to reach these groups is by understanding where they like to shop and what they like to buy, and reaching them in their own languages, the study’s lead author, Tony Hernandez, director of Ryerson’s Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity, said in a release.

As an example, the report cites the differences discovered between Chinese and South Asian communities. Almost three-quarters of Chinese-Canadian shoppers are homeowners, the researchers found, and the most-visited shopping destinations for this market are Bridlewood Mall, Scarborough Town Centre, Miliken Crossing, Woodside Square and Agincourt Mall.

South Asian Canadians, on the other hand, are more likely to rent and live in larger households. This population – based largely in Mississauga and Brampton – prefers to shop at Bramalea City Centre, Mountain Ash Road/Bovaird Drive and Trinity Common Mall.

Although revealing the wide scope of what is a largely untapped market for many marketers, Hernandez admitted that the report is merely the tip of the iceberg.

‘We still have a lot to learn about immigrant consumer behaviour,’ he said in the release. ‘We may know where ethnic stores are located, but we need to know more about immigrants’ consumption habits and generational differences.’