Chinese community marketing: CFMT study sheds light on consumer buying habits

Two years ago, Toronto-based multilingual tv broadcaster CFMT International commissioned ComQuest Research to establish the buying habits of Chinese-Canadian consumers.Further understandingThe Consumer Preference Study by ComQuest, the custom research division of BBM Bureau of Measurement, was undertaken to provide marketers further...

Two years ago, Toronto-based multilingual tv broadcaster CFMT International commissioned ComQuest Research to establish the buying habits of Chinese-Canadian consumers.

Further understanding

The Consumer Preference Study by ComQuest, the custom research division of BBM Bureau of Measurement, was undertaken to provide marketers further understanding of a market growing in size, influence and affluence.

Commissioned in 1992, executed in March of 1993 and released in June of that same year, the survey covered 50 product and service categories ranging from bar soap to real estate to shopping venues.

A total of 300 households in the extended Toronto market, representing more than 1,300 individual respondents, participated.

Counter assumptions

The results of the survey counter some of the assumptions generally believed of the Chinese-Canadian population.

For example, one assumption generally made is that the Chinese diet does not include dairy products.

However, according to the study, milk is consumed by Chinese-Canadians at the same level as by non-Chinese-Canadians.

Another assumption believed of the Chinese-Canadian population is they only shop at Chinese food stores.

The Consumer Preference Study reveals the top three grocery store venues are Miracle Food Mart, Loblaws and Dominion, followed by the remaining ‘conventional’ supermarkets.

The obvious conclusion is that marketers’ products and services are being consumed by the Chinese population and are accessible to them through conventional venues.

Other findings indicate the consumption rates of the Chinese-Canadian population in various product categories exceed those of non-Chinese-Canadians.

Computer purchasing

For example, the intent to buy home computers by Chinese-Canadians surveyed is greater than claimed by non-Chinese-Canadians; a greater proportion of Chinese-Canadians surveyed own their homes, and more Chinese-Canadian households have credit cards.

Still other findings reveal the Chinese-Canadian consumer is similar to the non-Chinese-Canadian in category consumption.

While Chinese-Canadians consumers buy toothpaste at equal levels to the average population, their brand preferences differ.

Cough/cold sector

Another example is the cough/cold remedies category.

Although brand strength shifts when examining Chinese preference, consumption overall is similar.

While this similarity may cause advertisers to assume their English-language commercial message is blanketing the Chinese population, cfmt research proves otherwise.

The Consumer Preference Study not only allows us to discover similarities, differences, strengths and weaknesses of Chinese-Canadian consumer preferences, it also allows us to draw overall conclusions.

Strong brand bias

For example, although the question was not asked directly, each and every category covered in this study revealed a strong preference for brand name products versus store brands.

Also, products distributed in Hong Kong and available in Canada have a tendency to be well-developed in our market.

This does not mean Chinese-Canadian consumers are not candidates for a marketer’s product or service, it may simply mean they are unaware of its existence.

While this study answers many questions asked by advertisers and their agencies, we regularly encounter requests for more information.

Further research

Unfortunately, economic realities do not allow cfmt the luxury of annual expenditures in excess of $250,000 toward research.

Fortunately, some advertisers and their agencies have been proactive in funding their own research into ethnic markets.

Research such as the ComQuest study plays a powerful role in demystifying the Chinese-Canadian market.

It provides advertisers and agencies with enough information to make educated marketing decisions.

Melanie Farrell is an account executive with CFMT International, a multilingual tv service broadcast to the Toronto, Ottawa and London markets.