Don Penfold arms companies with information to drive their business growth by tapping into one of Canada's largest and fastest-growing markets.
"We're here to satisfy the hunger of marketers wanting to target more of this country's multicultural buying power," says the co-founder and director of Toronto-based Research Solutions Inc. (RSI), a consumer-analytics research firm that charts the statistical roadmap of Canada's ethnic consumers.
RSI helps businesses obtain specific ethnic market information from among a widening pool of data providers. "We ask our clients questions about the level of data detail they need and if they are looking to do a direct mailer or just general market information. We use this to decide what sources are best suited to them," Penfold says.
With more than 200 ethnicities now represented in Canada and immigration accounting for more than 50 per cent of this country's population growth - a figure predicted to double by 2025 - businesses are starved for information about this mushrooming multicultural marketplace, Penfold says.
|Brennan O'Connor, Business Edge|
|Don Penfold of Research Solutions Inc. charts statistical roadmaps of Canada's ethnic consumers|
The rewards of ethno-marketing are potentially huge. According to a recent Marketing Magazine report, in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) alone South Asians, Chinese, Italians and Portuguese account for more than $36 billion in annual expenditure, or 24 per cent of the total market dollars. "It's not much of a stretch to see that by 2017, brand loyalty will belong to those companies that have incorporated multiculturalism into their marketing platforms," the report said.
In connecting his advertisers with Toronto's surging ethnic marketplace, Joe Mulvihill likes to take it on the chin.
"We've identified an explosion of interest in the ethnicity of this city," says the COO of CHIN Radio, the largest multicultural/multilingual radio station in Ontario, broadcasting in more than 30 languages to more than 30 cultural communities in the GTA and southern Ontario areas on its AM and FM stations. It also broadcasts to more than 18 languages and cultures in the Ottawa/ Gatineau region on CJLL-FM.
CHIN itself embodies this billowing interest. The station has come a long way since the 1960s when the pioneer of multicultural broadcasting and the station's founder, Johnny Lombardi, battled station owners, English radio-station programmers and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission over the value of, and audience receptivity for, a multicultural radio format.
"Today, we're not only mainstream but a media leader in reaching out to diverse communities," Mulvihill says. "We recognized the multicultural potential long ago and have done our own data studies over the years, offering the findings to advertisers when promoting the opportunities to publicize their products and services on CHIN. But we wanted to dig deeper to produce a more complete picture of the communities we serve."
To better understand the demographics and dynamics of CHIN's audience, Mulvihill teamed with RSI to map out the geographic distribution of the four main ethnic groups in the GTA (South Asians, Chinese, Italians and Portuguese), profiling their lifestyles, purchasing patterns and consumer potential.
Using the maps, Mulvihill can tell prospective advertisers with single or multiple retail locations anywhere within the GTA exactly who lives in their market trade areas, their customers' buying patterns, how much they're spending on items such as groceries and cars, whether they own a home or rent, as well as discretionary spending levels. The road map of Toronto's Chinese consumers alone reveals an $8-billion market opportunity.
"Mapping is a valuable tool, allowing our advertisers to tailor their messages to specific ethnicities," Mulvihill says.
In addition to RSI, marketers can choose from a range of information resources, each placing Canada's diverse ethnic markets under microscopes of varying magnifications.
Statistics Canada, the standard big-picture data provider, identifies (for example) the total population of a specific ethnicity in large urban centres, or the number of visible minorities in a dissemination area, which is approximately 400 to 500 households.
But some market-research companies burrow deeper for information lodes.
One such is Manifold Data Mining Inc., which amasses statistics from numerous data sources and distills them to create a household spending and lifestyle profile encompassing about 1,500 attributes (including employment, dwelling, income, education and occupation) at the six-digit postal code level. (In an urban area this often represents a specific city block-face - one side of a street between two intersecting streets, or a single building, or in some cases, a large-volume mail receiver.) There are about 720,000 separate postal codes in Canada.
"Our data-mining services produce a customer profile and predictive modeling for customer acquisition, retention, cross-sell/up-sell campaigns and trade-area analysis," says Zhen Mei, Manifold's president in Toronto. "This allows us to estimate purchase behaviours for virtually any ethnicity in Canada."
For instance, Manifold can estimate if the Italian population around a furniture store is more likely than the Canadian average to purchase furniture and what the average household expenditure on furniture is likely to be. "Our mission is to help clients turn non-customers into customers and existing customers into better customers," Mei says.
Generation5, another Toronto-based research company, provides similar information but refines it to ethnic populations in the current year at the postal code level.
Toronto market-research firm Solutions Research Group recently released the first portion of its Diversity in Canada study, which focuses on six population groups in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, covering Canadians of Chinese, South Asian, West Asian, Hispanic and Italian backgrounds, as well as Black Canadians, for combined population of nearly five million.
"This study is the first of its kind in Canada," says Kaan Yigit, the company's president. "With Canada's population increasing by one million new Canadians every four years, we must understand this major driver of change in our marketplace in order to translate it into successful marketing."
The study's first report examined how and why different financial institutions are capturing market share among ethnic consumers. Future releases will examine the ethnic markets' lifestyle habits, social perspectives and brand use.
MapInfo Canada utilizes Statistics Canada information and fills in the blanks where Statistics Canada has suppressed the data. (If a population is too low, Statistics Canada does not provide data, but an estimate can be made as to what the value is likely to be.). "We deliver applied research to location intelligence, integrating software, data and services to help our clients make more insightful decisions," says MapInfo marketing manager Steve Irwin.
"Location intelligence enables direct marketers to identify who and where their best customers are, to reach more like them and increase campaign response rates."
Accessing this expanding array of resources produces a proactive and strategic marketer, says Eileen Fischer, a marketing professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University.
"If you aren't currently pitching your product or service to ethnic markets, you should be," she says.
"The ethnic market promises new avenues of growth, untapped market segments and increased profitability. Smart entrepreneurs need no convincing - they get it."
(Jack Kohane can be reached at email@example.com)