Multicultural landscapes have become mainstream over the past decade, and visible minorities have become the majority in some B.C. cities. Over the past few decades, Canadian population growth has been bolstered by immigration from Asia. In major cities such as Vancouver and Toronto, Asians make up to half of the population. This series of articles will focus most on the Chinese demographic. 

Online, Chinese users are active on channels you may have never heard of, and offline, they consume publications and frequent establishments you may never have thought of. If English isn’t their first language, many Chinese prefer to consume information in their mother tongue. Even their thought and decision-making processes can be impacted by language and their cultural beliefs. Therefore, targeting these valuable and often high-spending consumers with English ads simply won’t do. 

That’s why a dedicated multicultural marketing agency such as Captus Advertising exists. To bridge those intercultural gaps and help brands reach ethnic audiences locally, and worldwide.

In Part 1, I’d like to present 5 FAQs about Chinese culture. 

FAQ #1: Do Chinese people speak/read/write Chinese?

Most of the Chinese community in Vancouver speak Mandarin and/or Cantonese (50/50 split) as well as some dialects. 

Mainland Chinese, Singaporeans and Malaysians will read and write in Simplified Chinese. 

Individuals from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau will read and write in Traditional Chinese.

Traditional and Simplified Chinese are two different languages!

Did you Know? Most English ad copy cannot be directly translated into Simplified or Traditional Chinese. The meaning is literally “lost in translation”. That is why we often advocate for transcreation instead, a process that takes an English concept and transforms it into a new one that’s culturally relevant and appropriate to the target audience.

FAQ #2: What types of media do Chinese people consume?

While many younger, often bilingual Chinese consumers (Gen Z, Millenials) actively use YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, the majority of older Chinese still prefer print media. The most popular Chinese daily newspapers are Sing Tao Daily and Ming Pao Daily. There are also an assortment of free newsprint magazines available in restaurants, supermarkets, malls, shops. 

Mainland Chinese also love WeChat, preferring this social media platform above all others (even Weibo). In China, WeChat is even used as one of the dominant payment methods; used more often than cash. 

Chinese consumers also frequent many popular news and lifestyle websites such as Apple Daily, SCMP, Lahoo, Westca and more. 

Popular video-streaming websites (used by Chinese consumers of all ages) include: iQiyi, Tudou, Youku and more.

FAQ #3: What leisure activities do Chinese people enjoy?

New immigrants or visitors from China often enjoy the same activities they pursue back home. Chinese millennials, in particular, are willing to spend large sums in these areas: dining out with friends and family at nice restaurants, karaoke, buying bubble tea, shopping (vehicles, cosmetics, apparel), social media, and playing games online. Domestic and international travel are also huge sources of consumer spending. Many Chinese parents also invest heavily in their children’s education.

Elderly Chinese in the community enjoy coming together to practice taichi, dancing or playing majiang. They enjoy light morning and evening exercise and are very active community members. 

FAQ #4: What are some important Chinese holidays to advertise around?

Spring Festival (a.k.a. Lunar Chinese New Year) (Jan/Feb)

Lantern Festival (Final day of Chinese New Year) (Jan/Feb)

Qingming (a.k.a. Tomb Clearing) Festival (April)

Dragon Boat Festival (June)

Mid-Autumn Festival (Sept/Oct)

Golden Week (Oct)

These are all key holidays and special occasions for family gatherings, meals and celebrations. Chinese citizens will get many days off to celebrate and travel, thus bringing some of them into Canada on vacation and to visit relatives. 

FAQ #5: Are Chinese consumers willing to try new foreign brands?

Younger Chinese consumers are becoming increasingly adventurous and they love to try new brands, especially foreign ones. Most are willing to pay a premium for foreign products, as long as the brand is associated with high-quality and stricter regulatory standards. In fact, being able to afford foreign cars, fashion, cosmetics etc. is considered a status symbol.

Written by: Jackie Quiring

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