PostCovid Economy, Advertising and Multi-Generational Impact of Linguistic and Cultural Localization

By Howard Lichtman /

Partner, Ethnicity Matters


As we turn the corner on COVID, where is the economic growth will come from?

Is it going to come from the existing clients, organically?

Will companies be able to win market share from the competitors easily, and regain what they used to own?

Or, are there new, “greenfield” opportunities to reach out to customers who may never have heard of your brand?

If you are interested in the third option, then you need to look at the 1st generation Canadians, the “newcomers’ segment”, as a new opportunity to explore.

The number of people belonging to the 1st generation immigrants creating quite a robust “ethnic” market in Canada is already the size of the population of Quebec. However, even that snapshot is changing rapidly.

For example over the next three years, the Government will be welcoming 1.2 million Permanent Residents to our shores. To that, you can add over 640,000 International Students that grace our colleges and universities on an annual basis. Further, already 60% of them are committed to staying in Canada post-graduation – that number going up to 85% for Chinese and South Asian students. Not only that over the past decade, international student enrollments in formal programs more than tripled but also the Canadian Government is currently in the process of changing the legislation to make it even easier for International Students to stay in Canada permanently.

In reaching out to new Canadians, it is important to be “in-language” as much as it is important to stay “in-culture” (see my previous blog exploring the two concepts here). For instance, speaking about Chinese-Canadians in particular, an estimated twenty percent of them do not speak either English or French. What this means for mainstream English and French advertising is that either one is not reaching out to them because “in-language” (linguistic localization) and “in-culture” (cultural) marketing adaptation is missing.


Further, close to seventy percent of the Chinese population in Canada is also a first-generation immigrant, and when it comes to the second generation, and this applies to the ll other ethnic populations, both at-home language and culture will remain to be what the 1st generation grew up with, in this case, Chinese and Mandarin. In other words, parent’s first language and culture, inclusive of food, calendars of celebration, and a choice of brands and media outlets, will be quietly but heavily influencing the emotional perception of concepts and words marketing campaign use for a minimum of one or maybe two generations of consumers. It is safe to say that the investment into the cultural and linguistic localization of advertising is a multi-generational investment into brand loyalty. Properly localized brands can be potentially embraced by ethnic populations for decades.

Further, close to seventy percent of the Chinese population in Canada is also a first-generation immigrant, and when it comes to the second generation, and this applies to the Chinese as much as to all other ethnic populations, both at-home language and culture will remain to be what the 1st generation grew up with, in this case, Chinese and Mandarin. In other words, parent’s first language and culture, inclusive of food, calendars of celebration, and a choice of brands and media outlets, will be quietly but heavily influencing the emotional perception of concepts and words marketing campaign use for a minimum of one or maybe two generations of consumers. It is safe to say that the investment into the cultural and linguistic localization of advertising is a multi-generational investment into brand loyalty. Properly localized brands can be potentially embraced by ethnic populations for decades.

  • A Fall 2020 study by AIMM indicating that the linguistically and culturally appropriate add campaigns resulted in a 2.7 times greater likelihood to buy from a brand for the first time which not only means two to three times increased effectiveness of advertising campaign but also that the purchase intent is tripled.

  • Cultural iQ COVID-related research reveals how ethnic consumers’ consumption of all forms of media – be it traditional media, digital media, and social media – increased dramatically during the pandemic, and that advertising in ethnic media in particular greatly improved brand recommendation and purchase intent.

To quote Marc Pritchard, – the U.S. CMO of Procter & Gamble – “If you’re not doing multicultural marketing, you’re not doing marketing”. In short, in our globalized world, everything IS “multicultural” and “multi-linguistic” but there are some businesses who understand this better than some others do.

The opportunity awaits.


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Appel aux bénévoles – Nous avons un BESOIN URGENT de traducteurs et d’interprètes pour venir en aide à la Coalition pour l’accès linguistique au Canada!/ Call for Volunteers - French Translators and Simultaneous Interpreters to Support Language Access Coalition of Canada (LACC) - URGENTLY NEEDED!





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