For many Canadians this Saturday marks the start of a new year based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Celebrations like Lunar New Year are an important part of the cultural mosaic that makes up Canada. For Coca-Cola, one of the most exciting challenges in being a company that serves communities across Canada is finding new and exciting ways to celebrate those special moments that matter to all our fans. One way we are doing this is by adopting a multicultural approach to how we market our beverages.

Right away you may be curious what multicultural marketing is. As a starting point, it means tailoring our approach to communicate directly with specific cultural groups across Canada, in ways that are relevant to them. This can be everything from ads in ethnic community newspapers to unique merchandise displays at local grocery stores in culturally diverse communities. Multicultural marketing ensures that we are reaching everyone who enjoys celebrating with our beverages in ways that are relevant and meaningful to them and their culture.

“The demographic trends in Canada really determine the multicultural imperative,” says Kathy Cheng, co-founder of Selffii Intelligence Inc. and a leading researcher in Canada’s multicultural and newcomer markets. “If you don’t have a multicultural strategy not only will you see your customer base erode but you’ll also be missing out on key insights that fuel innovation.”

"Culture itself can be invisible; people can be blind to the habits and preferences that shape their daily lives."

Recognizing and responding to these changing demographics is vital, because with distinct cultures come distinct practices and habits. However there is more to multicultural marketing than simply reaching individual groups. It is about changing the way we communicate with all Canadians building on what we learn through a focused approach.

“Sometimes when we conduct research focused on one group, we realize that the emerging insights are actually relevant across the entire market—we’d just never thought about it before,” Cheng continues. “Culture itself can be invisible; people can be blind to the habits and preferences that shape their daily lives. Sometimes by looking through the cultural lens of a specific group, you can bring wider cultural insights into view.”

While being one of the most universally recognized brands around the world gives us an edge in connecting with different groups, no one can afford to stand still when it comes to refreshing their approach. In the last few years we’ve made an effort to expand our presence around ethnic festivals by celebrating Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Diwali. In 2015 we added Ramadan and Eid to this list and in 2017 we will be building even further on that success by adding Dragon Boat Festival and Vaisakhi as well as developing new means of celebrating with our fans.

“During this Lunar New Year alone there are several key areas where we have stepped up our game to reach Chinese and Southeast Asian communities across the country,” said Shamus Qu, Director of Multicultural Marketing for Coca-Cola Ltd. “For instance we are running a custom TV commercial for Lunar New Year in Mandarin and Cantonese and have introduced a custom design for our 12-packs of 355mL cans. Every year we are trying exciting new ways to communicate with more communities across the country and looking for ways to incorporate them into our national approach.”

Here at Coca-Cola Canada, our multicultural approach is providing us with great new ways to directly communicate with fans of all ethnicities. With shifting demographics, refreshing how we try to reach these different cultural groups is essential in a country as diverse as Canada.  Through innovative marketing, we are working to play a meaningful role in helping communities across the country celebrate those important cultural festivals and share them with all Canadians.