69 million Chinese adults would like to move to Canada

Canada is the second-most desirable country for Chinese immigrants, a fact that holds a host of implications for business leaders.
Chinese immigrants

A staggering 69 million Chinese adults across Mainland China and Hong Kong – a number roughly equivalent to double the current Canadian population – are considering a move to Canada in the next couple of years.

That’s not to say all of them will move here. After all, as part of Canada’s immigration plans, the country intends to welcome only 1.2 million new immigrants over the next three years – or a little more than 400,000 per year during that period.

But the goal of a recent pilot study by the Hamazaki Wong Marketing Group, in partnership with RIWI and Vivintel (a research division within Vividata), wasn’t to measure the number of Chinese immigrants who will land in Canada, but rather to gauge their interest in doing so – and delve into the potential implications for business leaders and marketers.

The organizations conducted an online survey of 3,000 respondents over the age of 18 between March 26 and 29, using a random sample of internet users from Mainland China and Hong Kong, with results presented during an online presentation on July 8.

Among its main findings is that Canada is currently the second-most desirable country in the world for potential Chinese immigrants, with one in five people citing their interest in moving here over the next couple of years. That places Canada behind the U.S., where 137.7 million Chinese people would like to move, and ahead of the U.K. (52.5 million) and Australia (28.9 million).

“[Canada’s] international standing is something we as a country can capitalize on to augment our population base for growth and prosperity,” says Sonny Wong, president at Hamazaki Wong Marketing Group. “This pertains to an immigrant base, but contained within are business people [and] entrepreneurs who could help move the economy forward in creating businesses, jobs and trade opportunities with their entire network of business contacts in Greater China.”

Since 2013, one of every 10 new immigrants to Canada have come from China. The majority (67%) have settled in large cities, and today, 1.2 million Chinese adults live in the Greater Toronto & Vancouver Area – 83% of whom were not born in Canada.

They form a demographic group that is young (on average 38 years old), highly educated (81% have a post-secondary degree), English savvy (55% consider themselves either fluent or advanced speakers), and affluent spenders. According to the research, Chinese Canadians spend approximately $61 billion per year on purchases in Canada.

“This segment will form a nucleus of new customers that need to be marketed to differently,” adds Wong, whose agency specializes in multicultural marketing. “Right now 21% of Canada is comprised of visible minorities but budgets don’t reflect this and neither do marketing decisions. In 10 years, almost one-third of Canadians will be of visible minorities and this will only increase due to low fertility levels. Yet marketers have not responded in concert with these demographic changes.”

The research has implications for business leaders, as Canada has the highest proportion of Chinese immigrants looking to retire (36%) or start a business (28%), notes Rahul Sethi, director of insights at Vividata. Canada also ties with the U.K. as a top destination to pursue an education, at 16%. “This speaks to an opportunity for brands to align marketing efforts with newcomers on their distinct motivations to settle in Canada.”

And while many Chinese immigrants have strong English-speaking skills, the research found that communicating in their native language is an effective way of connecting with newcomers. For example, 56% of those who have been in the country less than five years say they “pay more attention to advertising that is in my own ethnic language.” Fifty percent of the same group say they feel closer to companies and 53% say they are more likely to interact with or try products that are advertised in their own ethnic language.

“While fluency may be reasonably good [among Chinese immigrants], understanding may not be,” says Wong. “This is where culture plays a role.”

For example, in Canada diversity and differences are celebrated as a Canadian value, but Chinese consumers are likely to value their similarity to other Canadians – such as their aspirations to make a good living and have a healthy family, he says. “Finding cultural consonance amongst a growing diversity of consumer segments makes marketing go further, rather than having it isolated to one monocultural group.”

Following the pilot, Hamazaki Wong Marketing Group and Vivintel intend to run a larger study examining other markets, including India, the Philippines and Nigeria.

“Most of the research marketers and businesses are working with when it comes to new immigrants is conducted post migration,” says Sethi. “So we often only know the profile of these consumers once they have landed and been in the country for some time. With our planned larger studies, marketers, business leaders and government will better understand the profile, mindset, motivations to migrate and consumer preferences of new immigrants prior to their arrival. This research will help brands better plan their marketing efforts to new immigrants.”