How 2012 Saw The Importance of Multicultural Marketing

In 2012, many marketers in Canada raised this question: what does it mean to be “a typical Canadian consumer”? 

About ten years before today, the environics were collectively detecting a phenomenon amongst the Canadian population: new immigrants took up two thirds of the country’s population growth, with the Philippines being the top source of immigration at that time. Second place was India, while third place was China.

A Changing Population

All the data above were taken from the 2011 census results. Comparing these findings with the results from the previous 2006 census, many saw the trend that indicated Canada immigration increasing, and it was playing an increasingly important role in the Canada demographics. In fact, it was predicted that if population growth trends continued the way they were, in less than 25 years from 2012, immigration would be the only growth factor for Canada’s population. (Note that the natural growth for Canada was in decline in 2012.)

As the population saw changes, so did the media that was being consumed by the people. Back in 2012, a term called “new mainstream” rose to high relevance. This was, and still is used to describe: “the coming demographic shift in urban centers, when visible minorities will become visible majorities.” 

“Ethnic Media” or Just “Media”?

With this demographic shift, people were starting to view media differently. Before 2012, there was a fine line between “traditional media” and “ethinic media”. After the realization about the demographic shift, the boundaries between the two were getting blurrier fast. 

Because the number of immigrants were increasing, many media made for immigrant communities were seeing the light. For example, in January of 2012, Global News launched a Mandarin evening newscast in both Calgary and Vancouver. Roughly around the same time, Vancouver Sun launched a new website in Chinese called (pictured below), which literally translates to “The Sun Newspaper”. This is a subsection of news from Vancouver Sun provided for the Chinese readers. The Epoch Times newspaper also publishes in Mandarin for its Chinese readers as well. 

These were but a few of the many examples of new media created for the immigrant population. You may have noticed that a lot of these so-called ethnic media portals are sub-sections of what was considered traditional media, such as Vancouver Sun and Global News. This further proved that ethnic media and traditional media were merging together into one.

Nissan Canada’s Multicultural Marketing Campaign

So, how did this affect businesses? Well, population and media both play a huge role on the brand image, the public perception, and the marketing and advertising of a business. This means that if the public media was seeing such changes, it’s no surprise that the business needed its own adjustments to match with the audience and the environment. 

The rise of the significance of the immigrant population and its effects on media were relatively new concepts at that time, so not many companies paid much attention to this trend. However, one exception was Nissan Canada, a multinational automobile manufacturer that originated in Japan.​​

In 2012, Nissan Canada launched a marketing campaign, with the South Asian communities, a rapidly growing population, as the target demographics. Nissan Canada knew that they must understand the community well. They can’t just slap a bunch of cultural elements and call it a suitable strategy. They needed multicultural marketing that truly appealed to the visible minorities.

Multicultural marketing has always been around, especially in Canada. But this was the time where multicultural marketing saw its time to shine. For their campaign in 2012, Nissan Canada collaborated with a lot of multicultural marketing agencies, one of them being us, DV8 Communication

Multicultural marketing agencies are experts of understanding visible minority groups. They knew that the South Asians loved technology, and found a Japanese automobile brand trustworthy. They also know that many South Asians want to buy larger cars, as their families are usually around 5 to 6 people. In addition, South Asia doesn’t see nearly as much snow as Canada, so they desire cars that allow easy traveling through the winter weathers. Many of the multicultural marketing agencies all advised Nissan Canada to accommodate these key needs and desires if they were to win the favorability of the South Asian communities.

And these insights that the multicultural marketing agencies provided were exactly what Nissan Canada needed. Nissan Canada made adjustments to their automobiles and made sure to advertise the features of safe high-tech, spacious interior designs, and safe travel through snow to the South Asian communities. This was done through television, the internet, and social media. 

As for us, DV8 Communication was Nissan Canada’s agency of record for the South Asian markets. We took charge of the ATL and BTL activities for Nissan Canada’s campaign. We produced digital banner ads, print ads, and microsites, in both English and Hinglish so the South Asian communities could understand the promotional materials better. 

When we made the marketing media, we made sure to feature predominantly South Asians in the media to increase the sense of connection. This was another overlooked marketing tactic that was and still is deemed very important by multicultural marketing agencies. 

We went in with the goal of making Nissan a top-of-mind automobile brand for the South Asian communities. And these works did prove to have a positive effect. Following this campaign, Nissan Canada’s marketing department heard, from dealerships, an increase of interest from the South Asian population, so it’s clear that the multicultural marketing helps in connecting with visible minority communities in Canada.


Nissan Canada was one of the many examples that collaborated with multicultural marketing agencies in hopes of gaining a customer base from the visible minorities. Other examples include Clorox and Rogers Communication. Ever since 2012, multicultural marketing has only gained relevance, with more companies working with multicultural marketing agencies and media organizations to craft campaigns for the country’s visible minorities. 

In today, 2022, immigration is still very much on the rise. Looking at the most recent 2016 census, 21.9% of Canadians are foreign-born immigrants. And amongst immigrants residing in Canada in 2016, 1,212,075 came between 2011 and 2016. Multicultural marketing campaigns and advertisements have also gotten more commonly seen.

So, this once again, begs the question, how long will “traditional marketing” and “multicultural marketing” be separated with such a clear and firm line drawn between them? As the multicultural media becomes gradually more relevant, will the visible minorities today be the majorities tomorrow? And will multicultural marketing just become marketing in the future?


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