VIDEO: Making sense of ‘Linsanity’ and understanding Chinese moms

March 21, 2012  |  Kristin Laird  |  Comments

“I have to confess I did go ‘Lin-sane’ for a short time,” said Robin Brown, senior vice-president of consumer insights at Environics Research Group, referring to the craze surrounding New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin.

Brown was speaking at Marketing‘s Multicultural Marketing Conference in Toronto Tuesday to present exclusive research into youth in Canada, China, Korea and India – and how it is changing the marketing environment.

The hype around Lin  (despite the team’s recent six-game losing streak) demonstrates how connected and influential today’s Asian youth population really is, he said. He cited three underlying factors behind Linsanity:

It was Asian: The story helped ignite a sense of pride among the Chinese community, be they second or third generation.

It was global: The news of Lin’s success spread quickly and globally.

It was cross-cultural: Lin’s story resonated across cultures and beyond Chinese diasporas, said Brown. Chinese youth in North America saw a Chinese NBA star that excelled on the court and was accepted in the mainstream.

Campuses in North America, particularly those on the west coast, have an overwhelming number of Asian students, he said. Students are interacting with each other and sharing information across global diasporas groups, usually via social media channels such as Facebook.

The Environics 2012 Global Youth Survey found that young immigrants (those aged 15 to 29) have a high proportion of relatives and friends living overseas that they remain connected with.

Following Brown’s presentation, the conference continued with a case study from Kraft Canada. In recent years, the packaged goods company has increased its focus on Chinese and South Asian consumers.

By 2013, one in four Canadians will belong to a visible minority, according to statistics presented by Irene Daley, senior strategy manager, Kraft Canada. Right now, 75% of visible minorities are living in Ontario and British Colombia, 40% of which are either Chinese or South Asian. From a marketing perspective, these were the first two groups Kraft decided to target, said Daley.

Kraft wanted to increase its presence within these communities and increase penetration with multicultural consumers, she said.

Through research, Kraft learned that members from both cultures shared the desire to start a new and better life in Canada for themselves and their children.

Members of the Chinese and South Asian communities want to stay in touch with their cultural roots but at the same time embrace a new culture and heritage. As a result, many children become a hybrid of two cultures, said Daley.

Research also showed that these consumers struggled with making traditional food at home because they didn’t recognize the ingredients they needed in the grocery store.

Another obstacle: kids wanting pizza or the same types of food their friends were eating – something simple like a grilled cheese or Kraft Dinner, said Daley.

In 2010, Kraft Canada took its findings and developed a multicultural marketing program aimed at the South Asian consumer. The company reached out to local chefs and cooking instructors to develop recipes that live on a dedicated website,

The effort also included a magazine and print ads. In-store, Kraft ensured that grocery stores like T&T, for example, had the right product selection.

Aditi Burman, a senior promotions manager for Kraft Canada, said “a lot of ethnic retailers are hungry for our help to make sure that they have products consumers want.”

A year later, Kraft Canada launched a similar effort for the Chinese consumer. Kraft Canada worked with Kang & Lee Advertising to identify two sub segments within the Chinese market, explained Saul Gitlin, the agency’s EVP, strategic marketing services/new business.

The first: Working moms with hectic schedules who keep a traditional Chinese home but are receptive to Canadian culture and incorporating it into their lives.

The second: Full time mothers who are more focused on living within the Chinese culture and community. These women generally have more time to plan and prepare food.

Both subsets have a strong sense of pride and caring for their children is paramount, said Gitlin. “They’re really the consumer of the house and seeking the best in terms of quality, taste and convenience.”

Kraft Canada researched both groups through qualitative and quantitive research to develop specific campaign elements that would make the greatest impact, said Gitlin.

For instance, it was important to show members of the Chinese community not only how to make Chinese inspired recipes using Kraft products at, but also to show them how to make something as basic as Kraft Dinner, said Burman.

Print executions recognized Chinese holidays and also demonstrated how Kraft products can be incorporated into every day lives, said Burman.

Tracking has found that awareness of Kraft has increased 40% since the launch of the Chinese focused initiatives, while 10% said they would recommend Kraft to family and friends.

Most recently Kraft Canada put together a Chinese calendar that includes recipes for every month and “showcases Canadian and Chinese holidays in the same place,” said Burman.

Many of the recipes in the calendar are Chinese inspired but also includes tips on how to cook a turkey for Canadian celebrations like Thanksgiving.

The Multicultural Marketing Conference is being held in Montreal today and on Friday in Calgary.

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