Pinoys in Canada: The Visibly Growing Ethnic Consumer

Canada is home to the most diverse population of over 200 ethnic origins. While South Asian and Chinese denominations are the two largest communities, the Filipino community has gone from less than a thousand to one of Canada’s largest visible minority groups, with over 600,000 residing across the country. In fact in recent years, the Philippines has become the greatest source of immigrants to Canada – from just over 18,000 in 2005 to over 50,000 in 2015.

Although Filipino immigration to Canada trailed other nationalities, it started gaining traction in the 1990s when many came here to work as live-in caregivers. While Ontario is still home to around 45% of the population, their presence across other cities is higher than some of the other ethnic communities and sub-communities. Among Canadian cities, Winnipeg stands as destination of choice for newcomers from the Philippines. Filipinos are now Winnipeg’s largest ethnic minority, constitute around 9% of the city’s total population, with Tagalog as one of the most spoken non-official languages.

Like many Asian cultures, family is the centre of the social structure and includes extended family – grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles as well as honorary relations such as godparents and close family friends. Closeness and concern for the extended family is prominent and it is evident in cultural festivals, events as well as business. Filipinos thrive on interpersonal relationships and are generally valued workers given their hard work, loyalty and work ethics.

The Filipino community has become well integrated in Canadian society. Tobias Enverga Jr became Canada’s first senator of Filipino descent in 2012. Rey Pagtakhan was elected to Parliament in 1998 and served as was Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific between 2001 and 2004. Mable Elmore was the first MLA of Filipino descent, elected to the BC legislature in 2009 and 2011. Karla Henry, who won the 2008 Miss Earth Beauty Pageant, lived near Vancouver for over a decade before moving to the Philippines. Torontonian Cassie Steele starred was Manny Santos in TV series Degrassi from 2001 to 2010 and also released few music albums.

Fastest growing categories in Canada and the Philippines

Rising influx of Filipino immigrants has compelled marketers to better understand this ethnic segment. A 2013 report on Nielsen Global Survey of New Product Purchase Sentiment revealed that 77% of Filipino respondents welcomed new product options, with 52% percent even expressing willingness to pay premium for a new product. Moreover, 74% said they liked to tell others about new products they purchased, with 83% claiming “advice from family and friends” and 75% indicating “receiving a free product sample” as the most persuasive source of new product information.

The study concluded that while Filipino consumers were enthusiastic about new brands, they needed to be nudged into adopting, and marketers needed to build awareness and acceptance through trial-building campaigns that ensured positive product experience. This would also be crucial for generating positive word-of-mouth endorsements that Filipino consumers are known for. Not surprising as Filipinos spend 6.3 hours per day online -highest among global populations – and 94% internet users are on Facebook.

A comparison of top growth verticals in Canada and Philippines reveals how certain categories can considerably benefit from reaching out to Filipino consumers through focused ethnic initiatives. Beauty, Food, Drink and Household are just some of the product categories that clearly present significant opportunity for strategic marketing to this specific ethnic audience.

For the intuitive multicultural marketer, the signs are clear – there is a visibly growing minority that is becoming a significant economic contributor and an increasingly viable consumer segment.

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Top Photo by Lady May Pamintuan / CC BY-ND 2.0