By Charles Whiteman, SVP Client Services, MotionPoint
If your company is looking to reach new customers online, look no further. Permit us to introduce a demographic analysts have called "Canada’s most sought-after citizens” – Chinese-speaking Canadians.
Chinese Canadians produce an increasingly important cultural, social and economic impact within the country. According to 2011 Canadian census data, there are nearly 1.5 million Chinese Canadians living in the country, or about 4.5% of the country’s total population.
That number might seem small, but don’t let it fool you. Canada’s Chinese community is one of the world’s largest. In fact, based on Canadian and U.S. census data, the percentage of Chinese Canadians in relation to Canada’s total population is nearly four times what it is in the States!
And it’s growing. From 2001 to 2011, Canada’s Chinese ethnic population grew by more than 35%. Of the more than 40,000 people who immigrated to Canada from the Asian-Pacific region in 2013, almost 40% were Chinese families. And a 2013 study suggests that at anticipated immigration and birth rates, the Chinese Canadian population will explode in several key markets in the next 15 years.
For instance: Vancouver’s current ethnic Chinese population of 396,000 will rise to 809,000 by 2031. Chinese Canadians will then represent nearly 25% of that city’s population.
Educated, Employed, Affluent
The Chinese Canadian market is well-educated, and increasingly affluent. In many of the largest Canadian universities, Chinese Canadians comprise nearly 25% of all students. In some schools, that percentage may be as high as 40%. Remember: This is a group that presently represents 4.5% of the country’s population.
A 2006 study determined that salaries among second-generation Chinese Canadians were at least 13% higher than the national average for other immigrant groups. Thus, this market also wields more purchasing power than the national average.
According to a 2007 survey of Vancouver-based Chinese Canadian families, about 60% have an annual household income of over $45,000 CAD ($51,100 CAD in 2015 dollars, adjusted for inflation). Nearly one-fifth of all Chinese Canadian households made more than $100,000 annually (around $113,700 CAD today).
Reaching Chinese Canadians
Okay, so it’s clear this is a thriving and growing market. So how can companies best reach these savvy, affluent residents? The easiest and most intuitive way to establish a customer’s trust is to speak his or her preferred language.
According to that 2007 Vancouver survey, nearly one-third of all Chinese adults have lived in Canada for less than 10 years. When immigrants arrive, it’s clear they are far more fluent in their native spoken languages (often Cantonese and Mandarin) and native written languages (Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese) than English and French.
In fact, the survey stated that 49% and 43% of Chinese Canadians speak Cantonese and Mandarin at home, respectively, regardless of how many years they’d lived in Canada.
(This doesn’t mean cultural assimilation isn’t happening, of course — government statistics reveal that 87% of Chinese Canadians have a “conversational knowledge” of English or French.)
Even so, especially for recent immigrants and Chinese Canadians who immigrated decades ago (when English and French fluency among peers wasn’t as common), offering website content in Simplified and Traditional Chinese often creates immediate credibility within this market.
Localize for Language
Members of the Chinese Canadian market rarely, if ever, assume a mainstream Canadian website will be in Chinese. However, when they’re presented with a localized website in in their native language, engagement increases dramatically.
Further, visitors to these sites usually come back again and again, and are often far more engaged than first-time visitors. Page-per-visit increases by as much as 69%, and some conversion rates rise by 130%.
Interestingly, we’ve found that — despite the ever-growing number of mainland China immigrants who read Simplified Chinese — in some industries, Traditional Chinese is a predominant driver of web traffic. This is especially common in banking.
Our data suggests this behavior likely stems from levels of economic stability within the Chinese Canadian community: longtime residents from Taiwan (who read Traditional Chinese) are more financially secure, while mainland Chinese immigrants may have lived in Canada for less time, and haven’t yet acquired investible assets.
Largely, Traditional users are more likely to research stocks and investment information, while Simplified users search more for credit card information.
Small Population, Big Returns
Speaking to wider trends, we’ve also determined that advertising companies’ Chinese websites absolutely works. Companies that invest in robust in-language PPC campaigns achieve meaningful swells in website traffic — sometimes as much as 70%. This naturally results in greater website engagement and conversion metrics.
We’ve determined that even when a Canadian company’s Chinese website traffic is less than 1% of what its English website traffic generates, that company still generates meaningful success metrics, connects with a valuable and growing constituency, and achieves ROI when it is able to reach this demographic through localized websites in their own language.