With half the population in Toronto being foreign-born and almost 300,000 new immigrants coming every year, Canada will not only be more diverse but with more 1st generation visible minorities who speak languages other than English and French as a mother tongue. Multicultural is fast becoming the new mainstream, and in the next few years 50% of Canadian population will be either immigrants of children of.

Diversity will not be the hallmark of metro cities alone as ethnic populations continue to grow in many urban areas as well.  Knowing how to reach out to customers from different cultures and backgrounds will become a more daunting challenge for small businesses looking for growth.  While most small business owners believe their marketing message is effectively reaching all audiences, can they really be sure their messaging is perceived the same way across communities? And it may not always be about the language. Just as the same piece of communication in English could mean something altogether different to a millennial than a baby-boomer.

Most small business owners – even astute marketers – have little more than cursory understanding of ethnic consumer preferences, behaviour, usage and attitude when it comes to buying a product or service.  And they may largely fail to identify with, understand or interpret traditional and cultural nuances that drive ethnic consumer buying decisions. Moreover, such characteristic undertones are not limited to newer immigrants but may drive behaviour even amongst the more established and acculturated.

As multicultural communities in Canada transform into inevitable mainstream, building lasting customer relationship will require empirical understanding of cultural, social, emotional and other cognitive triggers that can help make authentic connect with target ethnic audiences.  To this end, ethnic outreach needs to be an integral part of your small business marketing strategy.