Major Canadian cities have seen an influx of immigration over the past several years, with minority group populations outpacing Canada’s overall population growth.
Skilled immigrants may prove to be valuable resources for understanding product and service needs in ethno-specific markets. They may also provide a competitive advantage by improving networks and relationships, by speaking a variety of languages and by adding diverse perspectives, experiences and skills sets to the workforce.
Facts from Statistics Canada:
- From 1986 to 2006, the immigrant population went from 3.9 million to 6.2 million, increasing from 15.6 per cent of the Canadian population to 19.8 per cent.
- In 2006, the immigrant population was largest in Ontario (28 per cent), British Columbia (27.5 per cent), Alberta (16.2 per cent), Manitoba (13.3 per cent) and Quebec (11.5 per cent).
- In 2006, immigrants accounted for 45.7 per cent of Toronto’s population, 40 per cent of Vancouver’s population, 24 per cent of Calgary’s population and 20 per cent of Montreal’s population.
- If current immigration trends were to continue in the coming years, the proportion of immigrants in Canada could reach slightly more than 22 per cent by 2017.
- If current immigration and birth rate trends continue, South Asians and Chinese would continue to be the two largest visible minority groups in 2017, with a population of just over 1.8 million each.
To gain access to these potential consumers, companies are faced with the challenge of building networks and relationships with customers of diverse cultures. In response, employers should consider:
- Understanding new product and service needs and opportunities in ethno-specific markets.
- Increasing their cultural competence for stronger competitive advantage in local sales.
- Improving their reach and relationships with local communities and networks.
- Hiring staff with multilingual capabilities.