Communities within communities

There's a lot of fuzzy information about this important emerging market, from the language spoken, to the average age and family size. Below is a chance to test your knowledge and debunk some common misconceptions using up-to-the-minute findings from custom research conducted by ACNielsen.

There’s a lot of fuzzy information about this important emerging market, from the language spoken, to the average age and family size. Below is a chance to test your knowledge and debunk some common misconceptions using up-to-the-minute findings from custom research conducted by ACNielsen.

True or False: Cantonese is the official Chinese language.

False. Mandarin is the official language of China, Taiwan and Singapore. Cantonese, Hokkar, Chiu Chow, and Fukiness are among the hundreds of dialects used in China. However, Cantonese is the language most widely used in Hong Kong and among Chinese expatriates.

But according to data from ACNielsen’s most recent Chinese Omnibus Survey, the number of Mandarin-speaking Chinese, as a percentage of the total Chinese Canadian population, has increased over the past four years. At the same time, the percentage of Cantonese-speakers among the population has decreased.

That change is consistent with the trend towards increased immigration from Mainland China rather than from Hong Kong. According to the data from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, this trend will continue for years to come, and the number of Mandarin-speaking Chinese here will increase accordingly.

True or false: Chinese Canadians have higher education levels than the average Canadian.

True. A higher percentage of Chinese Canadians have a university degree than the general Canadian population. Among those in the Chinese community, people from Taiwan have the highest education level, followed by those from Mainland China. A full half of all Taiwanese have obtained a university degree or higher, as have about 37% of people living in Mainland China and 34% of those in Hong Kong.

True or False: The average age of Chinese Canadians is much younger than that of Canadians.

True. Two thirds of Chinese Canadians adults fall in the 18 to 44 age demographic. Only half of Canadians are in this range of age.

True or false: People living in the Chinese community have bigger families than other Canadians.

True. Okay, on this one, the common public perception is quite right: Chinese do have bigger families. On average, a Chinese family includes 1.3 children. Less than half of all Chinese families (44%) do not include a child. About 25% of Chinese families have one child and 21% have two children. Only 7% of families have more than three children.

Among Chinese Canadians, about half the families from Hong Kong do not include children, which is much higher than those from Mainland China (35%). In Taiwan, 42% of the families do not include children.

One third of Mainland Chinese families have one child, and about 25% of Mainland Chinese families have two children, which is a little bit higher than Hong Kong and Taiwan families.

True or false: More immigrants from Hong Kong are investors than those from Taiwan.

False. Many people have the impression that Hongkongese come to Canada with tons of money as investors. This is not correct. In fact, one third of Taiwanese come as investors, compared to only one seventh of the Hongkongese. The reason you get this impression is that Hongkongese comprise a much higher percentage (60%) of the total Chinese population in Canada.

Overall, 37% of Hongkongese and 24% of Mainland Chinese are independent immigrants, meaning they are professionals and work in a profession that’s under- staffed, as defined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Obviously, the Chinese community is very different from the average Canadian population in terms of demographics. What’s often overlooked is that even among the Chinese community, people from different regions have different demographic patterns. These differences affect their lifestyle, attitude and value of life. Understanding these further sub-segments is necessary if you intend to successfully market your products and services to Chinese.

Notes: Family Omnibus Survey and Chinese Omnibus are 2,000 sample size surveys. One is among all Canadians across Canada, another is only among Chinese communities in Toronto and Vancouver. Both of them take place twice each year. The most recent waves were finished at the end of June.

For more information about Chinese Canadians, please contact Olive Zhang, Custom Research Dept, ACNielsen. Tel: (905) 943-8082, fax: (905) 475-8357, email: olive.zhang@acnielsen.ca