Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

Ethnic Marketing Spotlight: Team QEQ Preps for Vaisakhi Parade Activations

Posted by Vanessa Vachet | 04.13.16


 Colourful Vaisakhi Parade in Surrey, BC #Vaisakhi #VaisakhiParade #VaisakhiEvents

Crowds Flock to a Vaisakhi Parade (Surrey, BC) Photo credit: Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy


Vaisakhi, (also spelled Baisakhi), is here! It’s April 13th already! And for Canada’s 455,000 Sikhs, today marks one of the most important cultural and religious festivals in their calendar and the official start of their New Year!

That means bright streams of gold and orange fabric will soon flood the local temples. You’ll see music, dancing, a riot of colour, and a multitude of traditional foods from the Punjab region, where this festival originates. Throughout the lower mainland, there will be local Vaisakhi events and QEQ is helping our clients connect with the South Asian community with customized Vaisakhi-themed campaigns!

With 77.5% of BC’s 155,900 Sikh residents living in the Greater Vancouver Area and another 28,200 living in Abbotsford and Mission, it makes good business sense to showcase and highlight your brand during these highly-attended cultural festivals. To ignore the largest segment of the South Asian community could mean you may be missing out on a share of this important and influential consumer market.


Vaisakhi Parade in Surrey can Draw 200,000+ Spectators! #Vaisakhi #VaisakhiParade #VaisakhiSpectators

Vaisakhi Parade in Surrey can Draw 200,000+ Spectators! (Photo credit: Tourism Surrey)


That’s why Team QEQ has been busy getting ready for our clients’ Vaisakhi activations at the Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade on Apr 16th, and the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade, on Apr 23rd! For more info on this event, see: http://www.surreyvaisakhiparade.ca/


#foodie #QEQCulture #Sikh #Vaiskahi #TeamQEQ

Team QEQ Enjoying Free Food at last year’s Vaisakhi Parade Photo credit: Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy


So, that being said…How can your business market around Vaisakhi if they know nothing about it? The answer is: You can’t. Educating yourself is crucial.

There are some key cultural traditions surrounding Vaisakhi and understanding their significance could make your Vaisakhi campaign either wildly successful, or if ignored, could mean a campaign flop.

For instance, do you know why Vaisakhi is a very important cultural festival in the Sikh community?

This day holds great religious significance for Sikhs worldwide, who spend much time remembering the most important day in their religious calendar – the festival that celebrates the founding of the Sikh community or Khalsa.

You might also be aware that Vaisakhi is also a harvest festival. It marks the time for the harvest of winter crops and is therefore extremely significant for those who grew up in the agricultural state of Punjab, India.

Yet, sometimes all too easy to commit a cultural faux pas, if you don’t understand your target consumer or their traditions. 


Cultural Consumers: What Do They Want? #Vaisakhi #Events #VaisakhiConsumers

Engaging South Asian Consumers During Vaisakhi


For instance, the traditional colours of Vaisakhi are yellow and orange. But, why is that?

The two colours represent the spirit of rebirth and sacrifice of the Punj Pyare, or the Five Beloved Ones, who were prepared to give their lives for their faith. The Punj Pyare were considered the first members of the new Sikh community, called the Khalsa.

The colours also signify joy and celebration, because they represent the golden yellow wheat fields that are ready to be harvested.


Why are Vaisakhi Colours Orange and Yellow? #Vaisakhi #VaisakhiColours #VaisakhiCustoms

Why are Vaisakhi Colours Orange and Yellow? Photo credit: Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy


Vaisakhi also has special significance for the Hindu community, as it marks the beginning of their new year. It is believed that, on this day, goddess Ganga descended to earth, and to honour her, Hindus gather along the sacred Ganges River for ritual baths. 

That’s why Vaisakhi is the perfect time to reach out to the entire South Asian community, in a culturally meaningful way. 

And at QEQ, we love finding new ways to engage these audiences. So, here’s a sneak peek at some of the tasks QEQ is charged with to prep for the Vaisakhi Parade and our client:

  • The client is hosting a booth on the parade route, so we have to scout the perfect location in both Surrey and Vancouver, along the established Vaisakhi parade paths.
  • The booth locations usually come at no charge, but since they will be set up in front of houses and businesses, they need to be negotiated with the home owners or store owners.
  • We need to prepare food to giveaway, either pre-packaged or cooked on the spot.
  • We need to rent a tent and tables, plus purchase thousands of plates, utensils, etc. 
  • We need to get food prep permits from each city.
  • We need to purchase enough insurance to cover both events.
  • We also need to train up our South Asian team members on our clients’ brand messaging and logistics.
  • We also design and print signage, and order branded giveaways.
  • We have 5am wake-up calls…so that our clients don’t have to!


Your Brand could Be Front and Centre during Vaisakhi! Why miss out? #Vaisakhi #marketing #branding #sponsorship

Your Brand could Be Front and Centre during Vaisakhi! Why miss out?


This is just a fraction of the list…and every year for the past 9 years, we’ve attended every Vaisakhi parade, rain or shine!

A Booth During a Cultural Event: Perfect for Vaisakhi Marketing! #Vaisakhi #CulturalEvents #VaiusakhiBooths #Parades #VaisakhiMarketing

A Booth During a Cultural Event: Perfect for Brand Marketing! Photo credit: Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy


A booth at the event, or any involvement in a cultural festival, can reap huge rewards! It will expose you to new consumers, increase brand awareness and loyalty, and also give you the ‘insider view’ into a culture. 

Some Tips for Marketing during Vaisakhi Parades or Celebrations:

  • Don’t try to sell anything. Selling is generally frowned upon
  • If you host a booth, Do provide free giveaways. It is expected. The basis for Vaisakhi is sharing, especially food
  • Do ensure all food is vegetarian
  • Don’t serve food with nuts and other common allergens
  • To minimize food wastage, do remember that not all spectators will be able to visit your booth (as much as you’d like them to!)
  • Do wear a head scarf to show respect. If you forget one, some booths and volunteers from the temple may hand them out
  • Do show respect for the religious aspect of the occasion: when the parade float with the holy book passes your booth, do not actively engage with the crowd
  • Don’t be surprised if elderly members of the community use your tent for shade or your chairs for resting. This is a time for sharing and celebrating community.


IT’S A BIG PRODUCTION, much like a wedding, and you would never think of putting on a wedding with over 200,000 attendees without a wedding planner at your side!

Team QEQ is like that key party planner. We make sure your event, or campaign, goes off without a hitch. And we greatly enjoy bridging the gap between multicultural customers and local businesses! It’s what we do and our staff thrives on any challenge, especially when it’s this fun!

Come to the Vaisakhi Parades and check out some of the booths. You’ll get to see what your competition is doing. It might even inspire you to engage in a Vaisakhi marketing campaign next year!

Happy Vaisakhi Everyone! We’ll see you at the Parades…



Sikhs.org: http://www.sikhs.org/khalsa.htm

Sikh.net- Lifestyle: http://www.sikhnet.com/pages/who-are-sikhs-what-is-sikhism

About.com – Religion – Sikhism: http://sikhism.about.com/od/historicalpersonalities/tp/Panj-Pyare-The-Five-Beloved.htm

About.com – Religion – Hindus: http://hinduism.about.com/od/hinduism101/a/definition.htm

Hindustan Link.com – INDIA FESTIVAL BAISAKHI: http://www.hindustanlink.com/festival/baisakhi.htm

Real Sikhism.com http://www.realsikhism.com/index.php?subaction=showfull&id=1248309400&ucat=7