Following an RFP pitch, Monsoon won the multicultural marketing category for University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. A request for proposals from the University of Toronto resulted in an unusually high number of entries.
“We are delighted with this win and it’s a great start to 2017. The announcement from U of T could not have come at a better time”, said Ramesh Nilakantan, Monsoon’s Managing Director & Partner. “We pitched against some of the best in our category. It proves that our commitment to strategic planning and results keeps winning us new clients”.
University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies has singled out New Canadians as one of their prime targets for student registrations. Monsoon’s strategy will draw on the agency’s strong direct response roots to encourage high response levels and drive traffic to the School’s website.
“The education category is a refreshing change from an agency’s normal line-up of clients. The challenges for UTSCS get to the very heart of some of the difficulties faced by New Canadians as they begin a new life in this country. We are very happy to be working with an outstanding marketing team at the School. We share their vision about how far the School can go in enabling newcomers get a head start on their careers in Canada”, said Sachi Mukerji, CEO & Creative Director at Monsoon. Initially, the agency’s work for UTSCS will appear almost entirely in digital media.
In late November, 2016, Monsoon launched a business to-business communications program in print and online to promote the agency amongst senior Marketing and MarCom executives. Agency “house” ads are notoriously difficult to create but we are confident this series will clearly position Monsoon as a strategically-driven marketing services firm where results matter more than anything else. Altogether, 4 ads had been created in the first phase and the intention is to continue this theme periodically through 2017. Judging by the feedback and LinkedIn analytics, the series has been noticed and read by a high number of our target audience. Copy and Art Direction: Sachi Mukerji and Peter Cooke.
First off, let me say thank you for the interview. I feel humbled and privileged to be asked questions about Monsoon. We are relatively young as an agency with an official start date on January 10, 2010 although we had a lead off time of about 4 months to get things going. This year we completed 5 years.
We have 3 major achievements in 5 years. First, our agency was founded on strong principles of strategic planning and a close relationship between planning, creative and media. We have never wavered from this position – and probably never will. Our account wins are a direct result of these core principles and it shows in our work.
Secondly, we have brought a high level of discipline and rigor learned from mainstream agencies and some of the smarter boutique shops that have shaken the market and been hugely successful as a result. It comes from the background of three of our principle players at Monsoon. That’s in our professional genes. That’s what we practice. We consider Monsoon to be a thought leader in the business. We are probably a bit low profile and camera shy at times, but we’re fixing that.
Finally, within 5 years, our most important achievement has been our success. We are now recognized as Tier #1 in the diversity marketing agency business on par with shops that have been around for anywhere between 12 to 25 years. Our roster of clients is exemplary. And we’re proud that as a result of our research and analytics capabilities, we can prove our work has made a difference to the performance of brands we handle. In the end, that’s what really matters to clients.
It would be presumptuous of me to say we’ve played an important role. Frankly, there were 3 of us when we started and now we’ve grown into a fully staffed agency with South Asian, Chinese, Filipino capabilities. In the fullness of time, we’ll probably have Hispanic and Arabic too. So all our time and energy has been devoted to building the business, acquiring new clients, servicing our accounts and planning for the future.
I admit we do have a larger role and give back to the industry that feeds us. If there’s one thing that Bill Coristine, Ramesh Nilakantan and I would like to do is devote more time to teaching. There’s so much talent here in Canada. We get visits from MBA’s coming out of business schools looking for advice and direction; new talent arriving from China and India. And we sit back and do very little. But we have plans to change all that in 2015. Ideally, form a partnership between Monsoon and an existing professional body, a business school or college and devote some of our time to teaching and sharing our experiences.
I am a keen observer of everything that goes on around me – in my personal life and in business. I’m a voracious reader of books, magazines, op-ed columns, anything that interests me or enriches the mind. This may sound very mundane, but StatsCan had published the first large and significant changes in Canada’s demographics around 2007/2008. The numbers, for a person steeped in mainstream advertising, were astounding. It showed the potential that lay ahead for a new generation of multicultural agencies. But I knew very little about this market. But I enjoy the process of learning, I love pitching for new business, crafting the positioning of a new agency and putting a team together. And so, Monsoon started to take shape in my mind although the name of the agency came later. I’ve done this successfully for several agencies as an employee. Why not do it for myself?
It was the summer of 2009, we had some friends over for dinner. We sat by the pool and talked about all the things we wanted to do. My wife, Susan, convinced me that I should be in it. It would be good for me and good for business. And so Monsoon was born, by a swimming pool on a hot summer evening, inspired by many glasses of red wine.
One of the decisions we made early was to go after marketers who had already made a commitment to multicultural. We were starting up a new agency and we did not want to waste our time chasing businesses that required any convincing on the rapidly growing ethnic market. Let other agencies be the missionaries, we said. Let’s go after the companies that needed help but didn’t know where or which way to go. It’s all about being single minded in your objective and never waver from what you’ve set out to do.
I think our predecessors faced more challenges than we did – agencies that were formed in the early and mid 90’s by agency professionals who’d arrived from Hong Kong and had to do much of the convincing. We came 15 – 20 years later and the multicultural market had grown considerably by then and included the South Asian segment.
Right now we do face another kind of challenge. And that’s the absence of a really sound knowledge base about ethnic media and the ethnic consumer. There are exceptions. We are often taken by surprise how much some marketers know – but more often by how much they don’t know. Sharing our knowledge with our clients and working together to make it better and more effective – that’s what we enjoy doing. It’s hardly a challenge.
That question is a double barrel loaded shotgun! I have to be careful of what I say, and I’ll try to be short and sweet. Monsoon is driven by strategy. It determines everything we do. Someone recently wrote “the strategy is only as good as the creative”. I was taken by surprise by that statement. Actually it’s the other way around. The creative is only as good as the strategy. We hope our work and the results we can show demonstrate that our business model and approach to helping clients in this category are really working.
Secondly, we strategize and create like mainstream agencies. We bring all the disciplines we have learnt over the years working in agencies like BBDO, Maclaren McCann, Grey, Publicis (and Darcy Masius, Yellowhammer, Wunderman, HLY-Grey in London) into our planning process for multicultural. That adds several layers to our skill set which makes us very different.
Finally, we see ourselves as a challenger brand in the multicultural agency business. We are in the business of changing behavior and one can’t do that without disrupting the status quo. But about that, I’ll say no more otherwise I’d be giving away too many secrets about Monsoon and the way we work.
A massive demographic change is taking place that could alter Canada’s economic, political and education systems and exacerbate the divide between rural and urban communities.
By 2031, one in three Canadians will belong to a visible minority. One in four will be foreign-born, the highest proportion since the end of the last wave of mass immigration that began around 1910, StatsCan said in a release Tuesday.
Never before have those who identify themselves as racial minorities seen their ranks grow at such a pace, sparking a debate about how Canada itself might change over the next 20 years. Some argue it won’t change much at all, that new immigrants will, like their predecessors, adapt to the established cultural norms. Others say the process might not be so smooth, that there may be growing pains to overcome as groups with very different cultural practices brush up against one another.
The great demographic shift began with the liberalization of immigration policy in the 1960s, which opened a door that had been slammed shut on non-white immigrants. Canada currently maintains the highest rate of immigration in the developed world, largely from Asian countries.
Even if immigration were to be suddenly slashed, experts say, the projections would not change much. Visible minority groups, which have higher birth rates and younger populations, are expected to grow at roughly eight times the rate of the rest of the Canadian population over the next two decades.
Their ranks will grow from 5.3 million today to between 11.4 million and 14.4 million by 2031, one-third of whom will be Canadian-born.
South Asians, those with origins in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, will make up the largest visible minority group at about 28 per cent of the whole. The Chinese share of the visible minority population is expected to shrink slightly, from 24 to 21 per cent, due to a very low birth-rate among Chinese-Canadian women. Growth will be largely concentrated in cities, although there will be significant regional differences, according to the report. More than 60 per cent of Toronto’s population will belong to a visible minority in 20 years. St. John’s, by contrast, will have less than 5 per cent. About 96 per cent of visible minorities will live in Canada’s cities.
Ratna Omidvar, executive director of the Maytree Foundation, said the concentration of visible minority populations, particularly in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, could give rise to “two Canadas,” where the concerns of one half have no resonance with the other.
“We’re already a nation that seems to divide itself into rural or urban, Quebec or anglophone. Are we now going to be cities with huge numbers of visible minorities and others where that’s not so?” she said.
Jeffrey Reitz, a University of Toronto sociologist who studies immigration, said the fact that Statistics Canada issues major reports on visible minority population is interesting in itself.
“It reflects a sensitivity to the issue of race. We’ve had difficulty with that subject as a country,” he said. “It’s interesting because 25 years ago they were issuing reports on how cities like Toronto were no longer majority British... Now the Italians and the Poles are considered part of the dominant population, the non-visible minority European-origin population. So the story is we’re moving away from a population dominated by people of a European background.”
Prof. Reitz said it could be taken as a sign of Canada’s modernity that its emerging generation of leaders, many of whom will belong to visible minorities, may have roots that tie them to Mumbai as much as Toronto. It may or not prove a competitive economic advantage, he said, but the prominence of visible minorities in Canada’s cities has made, and will continue to make, them more global in outlook.
Demographer David Foot argues the change is gradual, slow and largely inconsequential. Concerns about a clash of cultures are largely misplaced, he added. “We come to Canada to become Canadians and that’s what the new immigrants will do,” he said.
The Heart & Stroke Foundation has launched its first integrated marketing campaign targeting South Asians. The campaign, created by Toronto-based Monsoon Communications, is adapted from the current mainstream campaign, “Make Health Last,” which was developed by Lowe Roche.
In Lowe Roche’s campaign, “Make Health Last” juxtaposes images of fitness and vitality with those of sickness and decline. The ads, which are targeted at baby boomers, ask Canadians what the last 10 years of their lives will look like while urging them to make lifestyle choices that will influence their health outcome.
The Monsoon campaign, which targets South Asians between 40 and 55 uses the same premise with a few notable exceptions: the key message highlights the fact that South Asians are three to five times more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke than other visible minorities or Caucasians. They’re also more likely to be afflicted by heart disease and stroke at a much earlier age.
“Our aim is to reach the South Asian community where they are at and promote some behavioural and attitudinal changes to stop or reduce the numbers for heart disease and stroke,” said Firdaus Ali, health promotion specialist at Heart & Stroke Foundation. The higher incidence of heart disease and stroke among South Asians is due to dietary and lifestyle habits, said Sachi Mukerji, president and creative director of Monsoon, which was named Heart & Stroke Foundation’s multicultural agency of record following a review earlier this year.
“[South Asians] are very driven, very career minded, they work very hard and their own health comes last,” he said. “They’re not out there jogging, bicycling or going to a fitness centre and cutting down on carbs, oils and fats…. So it’s inevitable that this is going to hit them hard.”
Another key difference in Monsoon’s campaign is based on the insight that the “last 10 years” messaging would be irrelevant to South Asians, said Mukerji. “There is a certain fatalistic approach that we take to the last few years of our lives. It’s inevitable that we’ll be ill, it’s inevitable that we’ll be in rehab and that we’ll be undergoing treatment. South Asians have a tendency to say ‘what’s going to be will be. This is my fate.’ It’s more important for South Asians to answer the question, ‘how do you want to spent the rest of your life.’”
The campaign, which includes TV, print and radio ads, will launch May 16 in the Greater Toronto Area. TV spots will run on networks such as Omni and Asian Television Network (ATN), while print ads will run in various South Asian newspapers. The Heart & Stroke Foundation hopes to expand the campaign to other regions. Report filed by Rebecca Harris
1. Marketers don’t fully appreciate the rewards. They may be aware of demographic trends, but not of the accompanying scio-economic value of new Canadians as customers. They don’t stop to add up the depth and value of the services and consumer products required by new immigrant families. Simple database analytics – profiling existing ethnic customers – will demonstrate their value in spades. More on this in a future article.
2. Risk aversion – afraid of taking chances on something new. The fact is that the same overall marketing and advertising approaches apply to both consumer markets; mainstream and multicultural. Yes, there are differences in the strategic and tactical elements deployed to reach new Canadian consumers. But this is no different than varying approaches used with different mainstream segments; women, seniors, etc. When marketers fear what they don’t know, concerned that they have too much to lose by trying something new, it is too easy to avoid the challenge altogether.
3.They don’t build a proper business case. On the other hand, marketers will too often jump in blindly. With unrealistic expectations; especially over the short term. It is important to take time to understand the market, carry out market research and carefully craft long term strategies. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither are brands, regardless of the audience.
4. Marketers don’t hire the right people or devote resources to multicultural marketing. The average lifespan of a chief marketing officer in today’s corporate arena is about two years. And even more mid-level marketing executives don’t stick around long enough to execute more than a few marketing campaigns. Learning is lost. And often a champion is lost. As well, corporate executives often have difficulty finding experienced talent to help them deal with the unique requirements of multicultural markets. And they aren’t always willing to rely more heavily on outside resources such as sector devoted agencies or consultants
5. They pass the responsibility for developing the marketing programs on to someone too junior… Someone at too junior a level of experience, not only in multicultural marketing, but in general. And without the confidence or know-how required to do things differently, to work collaboratively with more knowledgeable outside suppliers.
6. Marketers use the same measurement tools to evaluate the market. Marketers are often so set in their ways they don’t recognize that the results of their marketing efforts can’t always be measured using conventional measurement techniques. Ethnic print and broadcast media are unaudited. Multicultural populations are usually underrepresented in syndicated market and media research. But increasingly, m/c research panels, dedicated syndicated research studies and customer database profiling and tracking are being used to help fill the void.
7. They believe that the cost of market entry is cost-prohibitive. But carrying out a cost analysis against their mass market programs would clearly show that multicultural marketing comes with considerable cost efficiencies. Due to the still-underdeveloped nature of the category there are still significant cost savings to be found in market research, creative execution, pre-and post-production, and media expenses. Specialized agencies can bring real project over project savings. And the ultimate value of a new multicultural customer – who is a more loyal and profitable customer – cannot be underestimated.
8. They believe that simply translating existing marketing and advertising programs will do the trick. They don’t appreciate how unique cultural nuances have a significant influence on how brands are evaluated, and purchases are made. They believe it is enough to add an ethnic face, translate a mainstream campaign and use cliché ridden imagery. Successful marketing strategies leverage key consumer insights, build culturally relevant value propositions around them, and execute respectfully. In the interest of supposed efficiencies, and because the responsibility is handed to staff with too many other major priorities, it is all too easy to fall into the translation trap.
9. Are unable to make a long term commitment. Often because there isn’t a champion at a senior enough level. Multicultural programs are frequently looked on as short term tests. “Let’s see what it can do for us.” But it takes time to build a brand, to establish profitable relationships. Look around at the number of marketers who have been into this marketplace with full-fledged, committed programs over many years now. They must know something. Most importantly they have learned first-hand, exactly what that market research tells us – the multicultural consumer is an extremely loyal and profitable customer. We are going to explore some of these challenges in greater depth in the future. Stay tuned.
Big grocery chains are missing a big opportunity by not stocking more ethnic foods, according to a new study by LoyaltyOne, which owns Air Miles.
While the ethnic food selection has improved among large retailers over the last few years, 63% of visible-minority shoppers in Canada feel their big-box grocery store doesn’t carry enough ethnic food, according to the study. As a result, two thirds of ethnic shoppers visit three or more shops a week to fulfil their food needs, with 18% visiting five or more.
“There’s a real opportunity for mainstream grocers to start understanding the next logical product extensions,” said Jeff Berry, senior director of research and development at LoyaltyOne.
But grocers shouldn’t focus on merely expanding the ethnic food section. “Ethnic foods are typically contained within one aisle — they’re isolated from the rest of the grocery experience,” said Berry. “There’s a real need to not only have more [ethnic] products, but for the products to be integrated throughout the store.”
Berry noted that Canada is already ethnically diverse, and by 2031, one third of all Canadians will be visible minorities. “So the way people think about food is completely different, and to have an Asian food section feels a little bit archaic at this point,” he said. “It’s food.” To capture greater market share, grocers need to start engaging consumers in a more relevant way, said Berry, “not just in the way they market to consumers, but in the product selection and store layout.”
The study also found the opportunity for big-chain grocers goes beyond increasing the basket size among ethnic shoppers. More than two-thirds of non- visible-minority shoppers said they would cook more ethnic cuisine if the ingredients were more readily available, while 81% of visible-minority shoppers said the same.
Other key findings include:
Somewhere between big data and social media, “multicultural marketing” has spent some time in the marketing spotlight, and deservedly so.
After years of increased immigration, North America has evolved into a rich tapestry of ethnicities, reflecting diverse languages, customs and cultures from across the globe. Today, immigrants and visible minorities make up a substantive proportion of North American cities and communities. As of the 2011 census, immigrants comprise over 20% of the Canadian population; this is the highest proportion of immigrants among G8 countries. Although most newcomers to Canada in the past decade have come from Asia and the Middle East, 2011 saw the arrival of newcomers from more than 200 ethnic origins.
Considering most Canadian newcomers are between 25 and 54 years old, it stands to reason that immigrants bring with them generations of history and tradition, which influence how they see the world, how they raise their families and how they make purchase decisions. Although immigrants tend to adopt western traditions and jump into the North American melting pot, many norms and values from their homeland are passed on and have a lasting impact on future generations of North American consumers.
In Harbinger’s recent study “Decoding the Female Consumer & Brand Loyalty,” we found that female immigrants do view the world differently from their non-immigrant neighbours. Differences also exist for female consumers born in North America to immigrant parents. Among the study findings, the following trends among immigrant women emerged:
I have often been asked “where do you come from?” There was a time when I would start to explain my long-winded career. India. Australia. England and now Canada. But I don’t anymore. The truth is I belong to the world. My education (which continues to this day), my interests, reading habits and the food I eat as well as the conversations I have are a microcosm of my past.
This includes the movies I watch, the music I listen to and the brands that I use.
So where am I from? I am truly a global citizen. What many marketers in Canada have yet to recognize is the old paradigm of population and demographics does not apply any more. There are millions of people living in Canada who were born in one place, educated in another, work-experienced in yet another and now living here as New Canadians. It is not an easy concept to understand as mainstream Canadians, by and large, are insulated by their short history as a nation.
Yet Canada is now populated by an ever-increasing percentage of transplanted citizens and facing the future is an intimidating thought to most of them. This is where smart marketers can help. This is where they can find new consumers and build long-standing relationships. It is grounded on marketers finding the answer, through their brands, to one simple and very basic question asked by New Canadians: “What can you do to make my life easier for me?”
It touches every category of business from finance and mortgages to autos and grocery shopping, wireless, food, health products and CPG. Speaking to this audience, connecting with them, understanding their needs…these are the challenges we tackle at Monsoon. That’s why we are the agency that’s redefining multicultural marketing.
We welcome your thoughts.Sachi Mukerji
Foreign-born residents’ spending is growing much faster than native-born population’s e-Marketer, October 23, 2014
Canada is one of the most multicultural nations in the world—and especially so among developed countries. According to Statistics Canada, about one in five residents was foreign-born in 2011, the highest percentage among G8 nations. Other recent studies have shown Canada to be the most culturally diverse of any Western country, according to a new eMarketer report, “Canada Multicultural Marketing: Segmentation by Ethnicity Is Not Enough.”
This demographic trend is expected to continue. By 2031, foreign-born residents will exceed one-quarter of the country’s populace, Statistics Canada predicted. For a good portion of that period, Chinese and South Asians will make up the largest segments of that immigrant population, according to Environics Analytics. Spending power data has most brands taking closer notice of recent immigrant potential. Not only do recent immigrants represent a new and consistently growing consumer base, they are also arriving in better financial position than previous generations, reflecting the current skew in Canada’s immigration policy toward admitting skilled professionals.
Environics Analytics’ research illustrates the socioeconomic position of ethnic groups in Canada. Household spending from the two largest groups (South Asians and Chinese-Canadians) combined accounted for nearly 9% of total consumer expenditure in Canada in 2013, a proportion similar to these groups’ share of the overall population. More telling, however, is the substantially higher rate of spending growth among these two populations compared with the average consumer in Canada. South Asians and Chinese-Canadians reported 2013 household spending growth of 9% and 5%, respectively, vs. just 2% for the average consumer household, according to the company’s “Ethnic Marketing in Canada” report.
Overall, visible minority ethnic groups far outpaced the average non visible-minority resident in consumer spending growth from 2008 to 2013. Non visible-minority spending during the period rose by just 13%, compared with growth rates in excess of 100% for Latino and Arab-Canadians, 76% for South Asians, 40% for Chinese-Canadians and 78% for other visible minorities.
Multicultural consumer spending power is attractive for brands in Canada looking for new sources of consumer growth. But segmenting along ethnic lines alone—a popular approach for brands first entering the multicultural market—is not enough. Using demographic and behavioral targeting tactics is a must for marketers looking to reach ethnic groups active across digital channels.
For those of us who spend time in the multicultural marketing arena the ongoing evolution Canadian immigration policy has enormous implications.
There is the impact on the demographics of an aging nation – on the makeup of our labour force, current and future economy and the ongoing viability of our safety net of government social programs. All Canadians should be aware and supportive of a proactive, aggressive immigration policy that takes these into account.
For marketers, there are also important implications when looking to the future of immigration. If, as one scenario suggests, we double the current number of current “economic immigrants’ (those with high value assets, employable skill sets, etc.), we could soon see fully 400,000 new arrivals each year. 400,000 new, high value consumers, with accompanying demand for products and services – growth that far outstrips any other source of new business.
Marketers who have the foresight to start building their brands now, who are ahead of the curve, will reap the benefits. Follow this link to “The Immigrant Answer”, the Globe and Mail’s compelling editorial series on immigration policy, and the challenges and opportunities of the future.
Successful multicultural marketing requires long term commitment. It is not for those looking for a new market segment to provide quick profit. Brands are not built overnight, regardless of the market or category. Even if you start in a limited way – develop a multi-year strategy and stick with it.
Different cultures have different purchase considerations and influences. Product benefits are often valued differently across cultures. Understand these differences and leverage them. A few upfront weeks dedicated to market and consumer research can provide unexpected insights and will pay off in spades down the road.
Simple translation, even with the addition of ethnic imagery, is too often a failure because it doesn’t’ take into account important cultural nuances. Ethnic consumers respect marketers who make an obvious effort to uniquely talk to them. Brands that acknowledge them as Canadian, but respect their distinctiveness, will climb in estimation.
Remember why new Canadians have come to Canada in the first place. They are looking for a better political, economic environment for themselves and their family. “We came here because we wanted our children to have a better life.” Brands that understand this core motivation, and position their products in this light will resonate emotionally.
Equally important is to demonstrate how your product or service can facilitate their lives in a complicated, stressful and overwhelming new world. Newcomers appreciate brands that show how they understand their unique needs – that want to help to make their lives easier. Attract customers who will trust and respect the brand – and they be more loyal over the longer term.
for your brand through and community event sponsorships and local area marketing. Be seen where your new consumers shop, socialize, play, worship and become part of the fabric of their lives. This demonstrates your commitment to the community – that you aren’t simply an opportunist hoping for short term profit.
Reach out as they research their new home. Prospective new immigrants spend a lot of time scouring the Internet in researching and planning their new life in Canada. This is the perfect time to start to build your brand and generate enquiries. A multitude of public and private online sites and resources cater to this segment and are a great environment for you to start a dialogue and build brand preference before they arrive in Canada.
Once they are here it is also an important source of news from back home, and used for ongoing research into new brands, companies, products. Today’s immigrants bring a high Internet proclivity – higher than the Canadian norm in fact – and there are numerous culturally specific online communities and social media opportunities for marketers to reach out to them.
Ethnic community print, broadcast and online media are entrepreneurial and flexible, and can provide you lots of impact and relevance with innovative, intrusive and cost effective added value programs. Be sure you rely on media planners familiar with these channels in order to get the greatest bang for your buck.
New immigrants rely heavily on their community of friends and family to help them make important brand decisions. Keep them in mind in your messaging and then treat your new customers well, as they themselves will become your most important source of more new business down the road.