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Four strategies for winning with South Asian newcomers

According to Statistics Canada, in 2006 South Asians were the largest visible minority group in Canada.  They’re an attractive target market as they are younger, highly educated, and have more children than the national average.  Winning with South Asians is a big opportunity to consider as part of your growth strategy.  Here are four strategies to consider when marketing to South Asian newcomers, defined as being in Canada for less than two years.

1. Focus on meeting their functional needs

After arriving in Canada, many South Asians find themselves back at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy, where obtaining food, drink and shelter on a tight budget are their top priorities.  Functional needs dominate their lives while seeking stability and financial security.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Another change is women take on new tasks that they weren’t responsible for back in their home country, like cooking and housekeeping.  They feel time starved and realize that they need convenient, time saving options.

Examples of convenience foods adopted in Canada

2. Build awareness at the grassroots level

South Asians are a highly social society.  Word of mouth and referrals from trusted friends are highly regarded sources of information.  Their children have a similar approach, as they learn about products at school, from their friends and advertising.

Print media is another important source of awareness, especially South Asian newspapers and grocery store flyers.  South Asian newspapers are readily accessible, free of charge at ethnic grocery stores.  Grocery store flyers are always reviewed to learn about products, decide where to shop, and aid in preparing a shopping list.

Online search is a highly utilized method of further researching stores and products that they have become aware of.

3. Be relevant at the moment of truth

The majority of grocery purchases by South Asian newcomers are made in the ethnic or discount grocery channels which offer convenient locations, low prices and a variety of ethnic foods.

When comparing products within a category, the female South Asian principal grocery shopper considers the following criteria:

Home country brands – if a brand is a familiar and trusted, it simplifies the purchase decision and gives her peace of mind

Recommended brands – word of mouth and referrals from trusted acquaintances are extremely influential

Price – selecting the lowest absolute price point or price per unit or gram is a key enabler to managing the family finances

Ingredients – preference for products that are fresh, contain real ingredients, and have shorter ingredient panels.  Muslims will check specifically for halal compliant ingredients.

4. Reduce barriers to trial

Even if your brand doesn’t have the advantages of home country familiarity, recommendations, or the lowest price, there are still ways to encourage trial:

– Temporary price reductions

– Trial sizes – reduce the risk of trial with a lower absolute price point and by limiting waste should they not like the product

– Sampling – a great method for increasing conversion at the moment of truth by demonstrating product acceptance among the entire family

What next?

By understanding how to address the functional needs of South Asian newcomers and the best methods to influence their path to purchase, you can unlock a new source of growth.

As the South Asian newcomers become financially stable, they will start working their way back up Maslow’s Hierarchy.  As this happens, emotional needs become part of the mix, and price is less important.  Our next article will highlight path to purchase insights of acculturated South Asians and how you can continue to win with them as they acculturate in Canada.

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