Everything it’s cracking up to be.


I am fond of saying that in today's Canadian market, if it ain't multicultural it ain't mainstream. But the more multicultural our markets are, surely the more fragmented they become? Not so.

The way I see it, it's not our new multicultural society that's fractured - it's old mainstream that is fracturing.

But wait, there's no reason to panic. It's not as bad as it seems. All this fracture business sounds painfully like we're talking about a bone breaking when in reality we're talking about an egg, hatching.

After all, we never really had a homogenous culture in bilingual Canada - and perhaps bilingualism and the distinct identities of Quebec and the First Nations were always a sign that this idealized (by some) homogenization would never come to pass.

Our changing demographics tell us that this is now a matter of fact, not opinion, borne out by the 2006 census (the fruits of the sainted "long form"). 6.1 million Canadians were born elsewhere and that population is growing 4 times faster than the Canadian born. The 1.1 million new Canadians who arrived between 2001 and 2006 accounted for 69% of all the population growth.

If advertising and marketing courses don't begin teaching multicultural marketing and advertising now, they'll be turning out students who will see markets that don't resemble their textbook markets in the slightest way. At the very least, they need to begin changing their syllabi now. Multicultural advertising and marketing needs to be taught, at least as a module in established courses.

In about five years, the mainstream as we know it today will have changed - by 2017 it will be an entirely different marketing reality and by 2030 it will be a brave new world for the bright, smart marketers and universities who took what their stats and research departments told them and applied it to their strategies and syllabi.

The fundamentals aren't changing because the new mainstream is a different colour. It's changing because the new mainstream is fundamentally different in every way - culture, conservatism, language, religion, cultural habits around money (saving it and spending it) and cultural habits around food. And the most fundamental thing about advertising/marketing is that it is about how people work. This is not an old "us" vs. a new "them". This is just a new "us."

One of the cool things about Canadian immigrants is that they want to be Canadian and they are proud to be Canadian, but they also discover very early that it is really difficult to define what "Canadian" is. Ultimately however, they come to realize in a single, empowering, incredibly Canadian moment that being Canadian is... being themselves.

And that is why I believe we need the Canadian marketing industry to invest in understanding this new emerging mainstream better - it's not going away. It's going to get stronger, richer, more vibrant and more challenging to deal with. Preparing for it is simply good business.

In fact, in our multicultural, polyglot, many-hued future, our local need for hybrid minds is going to serve us well globally - a rare instance where Canada is destined to be uniquely competitive. This is a time to learn how to spread our wings. One day we're going to have to fly. If we don't, we're going to have egg on our face.

Sunrise by the Ocean by Vladmir Kush via www.vladimirkush.com © 2008 Kush Fine Art. All Rights Reserved.

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