Asian-Canadians’ Shopping Habits Influence Mainstream Shoppers

Multicultural consumers are transforming the Canadian mainstream. Multicultural communities —at 6.8 million strong— are the growth engine of the future and projected to become the majority demographic by 2032. As a result, they’re commanding attention from marketers, advertisers and content creators.

Canadians of Asian ancestry comprise the largest visible minority group in Canada, at 15% of the Canadian population, and is the fastest growing. Considered visible minorities, the top ten ethnic origins include Chinese Canadians, Indo Canadians, Filipino Canadians, Vietnamese Canadians, Lebanese Canadians, Korean Canadians, Pakistani Canadians, Iranian Canadians, Sri Lankan Canadians and Japanese Canadians.

As Canada’s Asian population increases they are also influencing the food shopping habits of the overall population. Food is an essential part of Asian-Canadians’ cultural heritage and an element passed on from generation to generation. It’s increasingly imperative for retailers and manufacturers to understand the full force and buying behaviour of our ethnic communities who inspire and drive trends at retail.

Asian-Canadians are health-conscious consumers with the belief that food is the pathway to health and beauty. They prefer a diet consisting mostly of protein-rich foods such as fish, nuts, rice and poultry which keeps these consumers true to their cultural heritage and to deeply-rooted traditions. Shopping behaviours across multicultural shoppers reveals one important commonality—they are particularly influential in fresh groceries (the meat, produce, deli, bakery and seafood departments).

Asian-Canadian consumers over-index in meat and seafood department spending more than twice as much on seafood as Caucasian/white households.

Asian-Canadian households purchase more dry vegetables and grains than the total population. On average, Asian-Canadians purchase more fresh seafood and fresh vegetables per household than does the total population. Not only are the ingredients important, the preparation is as well. Asian-Canadians prefer cooking with fresh food rather than canned or frozen. What’s more, they try to eat healthy—and they say they pay attention to their nutrition and purchase organic foods at a rate higher than the total population. They also prefer to buy foods grown or produced locally.

In addition to a preference for vegetables and fresh foods, Asian-Canadians also seek out soy milk, seaweed, Asian curries and other cultural food traditions brought over from Asian countries. And specialty items such as these are examples of Asian-influenced items that have influenced the general population’s shopping habits and are now available in mainstream retailer stores.

A recent Nielsen research report sums it all up: “Just as pizza, sushi, and tacos have become a ubiquitous food culture, the traditions, attitudes and shopping behaviours of multicultural consumers are influencing mainstream consumers and expanding the multicultural market opportunity. The multicultural selling proposition for marketers and advertisers extends beyond the size of the multicultural population—it benefits a range of consumers seeking unique flavours and products”.

Mike Fromowitz
Ethnicity Marketing + Advertising

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