Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

The New Era of Holiday Shopping: It’s Online and it’s a Diverse Crowd!

Posted by Vanessa Vachet | 12.06.16
Holiday Shopping is Going Digital: Experts Estimate a 25% Increase in Online Purchases in 2016!

Holiday Shopping is Going Digital: Experts Estimate a 25% Increase in Online Purchases in 2016!

Are you on Amazon right now? Or eBay? Chances are, that even while you’re reading this article, you’re also surfing online for last-minute holiday deals. In fact, the digital shopping experience has become so ingrained in our collective psyche, that even after the exhaustion of Black Friday line-ups and the overload of Cyber Monday promotions, you’re still probably looking for something online.

According to the latest research from PwC, 60% of hipsters prefer online and mobile shopping. Millennial parents are twice as likely as other consumers to use a mobile device to pay for purchases. Gen Z shoppers are known to prefer image and video-based ads and 55% of overall shoppers prefer e-mail discounts, promotions and coupons.

What about multicultural consumers? Well, they’re often the trend-setters when it comes to digital media use and online shopping. So if you don’t have a digital strategy, especially one that speaks to multicultural audiences, you might want to take a look at the numbers, to see why you should.


Why are 68% of companies now boosting their investment in digital channels this holiday season?


Why are 68% of companies now boosting their investment in digital channels this holiday season?

Due to Increased Online Shopping, Companies are Boosting their Investment in Digital Channels in 2016


With retailers expecting a 25% increase in online purchases in 2016, they know that the future of Holiday Shopping has gone ‘web-wide’. And just as websites and emails have become standard business tools for most companies, if you want to be successful, a digital presence is also must. It’s the new cost of doing business and as people rely more and more on digital media, the digital storefront is becoming a focus for retailers and marketers.


From increased social media and digital advertising, to improved e-commerce capabilities and faster online checkouts, companies want to cement their online customer relationships before their competitors do.

Did you know? Internet advertising—powered by a mobile surge—will outpace TV advertising in 2017, reaching $93.5 billion by 2020 (versus $81.7 billion for TV advertising).

Source: PwC’s 2016 analysis.


When it comes to holiday spending, social media purchases will also see a whopping 66% increase, as companies respond to consumer feedback and preferences for on-the-go shopping. Social media sites, reviews, forums and search engines have become the new ‘word of mouth’, accounting for almost 40% of online shopping traffic. And according to a PayPal and Ipsos’ recent study, holiday promotions received via social media have been shown to influence the purchasing decisions of over 56% of shoppers – that includes Gen Z to Baby Boomers!


Consumers are also heavily influenced by online reviews, peer comments, feedback and digital ads. Perhaps that’s why digital sales are climbing, while retailers strategise how to revive their brick-and-mortar stores and to make the in-person shopping experience more engaging.


That’s also why some companies are opting for more online, or mobile-friendly ads, versus the traditional media options. With ComScore projecting that sales via smartphone and tablet will reach $12.7 billion in 2016, which is a leap of over 59% versus a year ago, who wouldn’t see the value of running online and mobile campaigns?


Smartphones and Tablets have made Online Shopping Accessible from anywhere: 36% even use them in the bathroom

Smartphones and Tablets have made Online Shopping Accessible from Anywhere: 36% even Use Them in the Bathroom


And with the proliferation of mobile tech and the uptake in smartphone use, online content is now accessible from almost anywhere! You can stream content at work (46%), in the bathroom (36%), even while commuting (29%), and companies and brands can now connect directly with consumers at any time.


That’s why holiday shopping is changing, even for ethnic consumers. It’s no longer just a seasonal affair, it’s become a year-round quest for the perfect gifts. And it no longer involves just a ‘trip to the mall’. Shoppers will combine both in-store and online browsing. Sure, you might go to a store to see an item in real life, or you might visit a mall to take pictures with Santa, be entertained, or take in the festive atmosphere. Yet the final sale might not take place there. It could happen online.


The numbers demonstrate this effect: Since 2015, there has been an 18% upsurge in product searches, 15% in deal monitoring, and 20% in package tracking. Yes, Santa’s still ‘doing his thing’ in a traditional way, but along with hand-written gift requests, he’s now receiving emails, tweets and shopping wish lists via Pinterest and Instagram. And Canada Post, UPS, as well as Amazon, might be doing some of the delivery.


So Where Do Multicultural Consumers Fall on this Online Trend?


Multicultural Consumers are often Young, Tech-Savvy and Heavy Media Users

Multicultural Consumers are often Young, Tech-Savvy and Heavy Media Users


Multicultural consumers would rate an 8 or a 9 if we were to set a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high) on the adoption of digital shopping. This may be why these demos have been called the new “super consumers”. This is not just because of their explosive population growth or expanded buying power. As Nielsen stated in their 2016 report, The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers, they are at the “leading edge of converging demographic and social trends that are reshaping how marketers and advertisers [connect] with increasingly diverse customers.”


In fact, multicultural consumers don’t just shape trends. They create them. In North America, multicultural households drive at least 30% of sales, 40% of growth and 50% of profits. Therefore, smart retailers such as Walmart and Macy’s are considering them as the cornerstone of today’s successful marketing strategies.


Ethnic consumers are also early tech adopters and heavy digital media users, and by researching these multicultural markets, advertisers are also getting a glimpse into future market trends.

Did you know that multicultural consumers use their smartphones and other devices at much higher rates than their non-multicultural counterparts? For instance, they are 32% more likely to index high for mobile usage, average 73 website visits per month and are 42% more likely to use an average of 46 apps per month!


Not only that, multicultural demos often “over-index” on the use of popular apps and social media platforms, especially ones that help them connect to each other, the world, and more importantly, ones that enable them to “express and celebrate their evolving cultural identities”, says Nielsen.


Take, for instance, Asian-Americans. They are largely an immigrant population, one that faces a delicate balancing act in propelling themselves upward in U.S. society, while maintaining a strong sense of their Asian identity. Perhaps this is why 77% of Asian-Americans speak a language other than English at home.


Chinese-Americans, like Chinese-Canadians, are often Ambicultural: They adopt the practices of their adopted countries, while maintaining their ‘Asian’ cultural identity

Chinese-Americans, like Chinese-Canadians, are often Ambicultural: They Adopt the Practices of their adopted Countries, while Maintaining their ‘Asian’ Cultural Identity


Maybe that’s also why they are at first hesitant to leave old traditions and practices behind. Even when they move to a new country, they often maintain their overseas trends and habits. Immigrated Asian households tend to stick to familiar forms of social media, such as WeChat, in order to stay connected with friends and family overseas, , but over time, they will also adopt new forms of online media such as Instagram or SnapChat.


This could actually be an advantage for retailers when it comes to online promotion. China residents spend more time online than their American counterparts: Internet users in China spend five to six more hours online per week than Americans and the average user in China spends almost 90 minutes per day on social networks! Those online behaviors, explains McKinsey and Co. Director Jonathan Woetzel, show no signs of changing, even when people move abroad. This could mean a great opportunity for North American online retailers. They will have a willing and receptive audience, as newly immigrated populations rely heavily on digital media to learn about their new country when they first arrive.

Online media also serves another function. It allows  immigrants from China, in particular, to express what Nielsen coined as an “Ambicultural” identity, allowing them to simultaneously maintain their cultural heritage, while seeing themselves as part of the ‘new mainstream’.  Using several social media accounts, they might catch up with their families back in China on WeChat, while chatting with their North American friends on Facebook.


This even applies to our Canadian demographics. As you can see below, the average Asian-Canadian consumer in Metro Vancouver spends almost equal amounts of time on Chinese social media as they do on the more mainstream, popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Newly Immigrated families, especially from China, often Use an Equal Amount of Chinese language and English language Social Media

Newly Immigrated Families, especially from China, often Use an Equal Amount of Chinese language and English language Social Media


According to an IPG Mediabrands study, 51% of Chinese respondents also tend to stick to brands that they’re familiar with from their home country, and 46% pay more attention to advertising that’s in their own ethnic language. The shorter amount of time that a Chinese segment has been in Canada, “the more likely they are to stick to familiar brands”. However, as they spend more time in their newly adopted country, they will look to widen their options and choices.


And where will they be looking for information on new brands and retailers? You’ve got it. The internet! The same study found that Chinese and South Asians, our two largest ethnic groups, are very digitally savvy compared to the general Canadian population. The average number of internet-capable devices owned by the general population is 2.4, compared to 3.6 for Chinese consumers and 3.2 for South Asians!


Did you know that Chinese-Canadians Use More Mobile Tech and Social Media than the Average Canadian?”

Did you know that Chinese-Canadians Use More Mobile Tech and Social Media than the Average Canadian?


The 2016 IPG Multicultural Media study reported that 95% of Chinese-Canadians use the internet for browsing several times a week, averaging 24 hrs versus 17 hrs for the average Canadian. This makes them a prime audience for online holiday shopping messaging and advertising!

That’s great news for brands who want to integrate themselves into multicultural Canadian households.


Does This Mean You Should Plan Digital Online Campaigns?


With an expected digital spend for the holiday season of $69.1 billion, it’s worth investing in online marketing

With an Expected Digital Spend for the Holiday Season of $69.1 billion, it’s Worth Investing in Online Marketing


Of course! If multicultural consumers rely heavily on digital media and the internet, whether it be via smartphone, tablet or desktop, that means that a good chunk of online and social media ads will be viewed by these growing demographics.


They will obtain information about brands, their competitors, pricing and availability off these various marketing messages, or through search engines, websites, or ‘social media word of mouth’. They will also be searching for product reviews and deals, not just during the holidays, or the lead up to Black Friday, but also months before, as they watch for bargains and offers all year long.

“As global borders shrink and the world’s population becomes more mobile, consumers will shop year-round, lured by a flurry of deals and discounts. In fact, 64% of consumers will begin holiday shopping before the start of Black Friday week. And 29% will have completed most of it by then.” – 2016 PwC Consumer Report


Because multicultural consumers are often young, educated and tech-savvy, they will expect a seamless, Omni-channel consumer experience. Especially consumers from overseas, who are used to this kind of multi-platform shopping.  

By engaging with marketing consultants who can provide important cultural insights, especially those that drive multicultural consumer behavior today, marketers and advertisers are getting an insider view into how to win over, what Nielsen calls, the ‘new mainstream’.

Not only that, by learning to adapt to cultural trends and shifts, retailers can forge a long-term relationship with the fastest growing populations in both Canada and the U.S.


Want to learn more about attracting multicultural consumer segments in Canada, contact us and let QEQ be your Holiday Helper! Email alisa@quoteendquote.ca




Sources: Images Courtesy of pexels.com and Flickr via: Mike McCune,  Robbert Noordzij,  Paolo Braiuca