Multicultural Marketing: The Filipino Market is Bigger Than You Think

Pay attention to the nannies. For real. Filipinos ranked as the fourth-largest visible minority group in the 2006 Census, representing 8.1%—or roughly 410,000—of the visible minority population in Canada. However, the group has recently emerged as the fastest-growing nationally. In 2010, the Philippines overtook China and India as Canada’s No. 1 source of immigrants. In […]

Pay attention to the nannies. For real.

Filipinos ranked as the fourth-largest visible minority group in the 2006 Census, representing 8.1%—or roughly 410,000—of the visible minority population in Canada.

However, the group has recently emerged as the fastest-growing nationally. In 2010, the Philippines overtook China and India as Canada’s No. 1 source of immigrants. In that year alone, more than 36,000 Filipino immigrants arrived—a more than 200% increase versus eight years prior.

The increase is, in part, attributed to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP), which brings qualified workers to provide care for children, the elderly or people with disabilities. According to immigration law firm Campbell Cohen, more than 90% of workers under the LCP are Filipino. “Many Filipinos provide child care for wealthy families and they actually influence a lot of the purchase decisions because they do a lot of the grocery shopping on behalf of those families,” says Anna Maramba, partner, media services director at AV Communications, who emigrated herself from the Philippines almost a decade ago. “Yet few marketers are paying attention to them.”

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Pick the low-hanging fruit
“The beauty of this market is they respond really well to marketing communications,” says Stanley Furtado, senior manager for Dyversity Communications. “That is why we keep going back to this market for clients like RBC.” They’re low-hanging fruit, in part because they notice when a brand actually seems to recognize them. But they also have a very Western outlook, and immigrants coming from the Philippines share similar cultural values with Canadians. Filipinos subscribe to the nuclear familial structure: 90% of them belong to a Christian denomination and they tend to be well-educated and fluent in English, says Denise Spitzer, Canada research chair in gender, migration and health for the University of Ottawa. In fact, while many Filipino newspapers in Canada say they’re published in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, “when you flip through the pages, 60% of the content is in English. So our ads tend to be in English, with a few works in Tagalog,” says Furtado.

Know where to reach them
Most Filipinos can be found in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba. However, unlike other visible minority populations, Filipinos have not, for the most part, formed ethnic enclaves. “They don’t care if their neighbour is Filipino; they’re more interested in being near a good church or school,” says Maramba. In some respects, that can make it difficult to reach a large number of Filipinos at the grassroots community level because they’re not as organized or congregate in the same numbers as other ethnic groups. They also tend to assimilate well into Canadian society, in part because of their proficiency in English. However, younger Filipino immigrants are displaying more ethnic pride than past generations. That has led a number of municipalities in the last couple of years, including Markham, Ont., and Vancouver, to declare a Philippine Independence Week, marked by festivities and other celebrations.

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