Gain marketing insights, consumer behaviour trends and creative inspiration from team BTI
Newsletter Signup
Posted by Stuart Jansen on June 28, 2016

International students are one segment of the population which is often neglected by brands, however, it is showing an incredible amount of growth and potential and should not be ignored!

It is estimated that in 2015, 357,000 international students collectively spent more than $10 billion in Canada and generated employment for some 90,000 Canadians. The government of Canada recognizes this potential and has initiated several programs to attract students from overseas. The number of Canadian embassies, high commissions and consulates around the world implementing education related promotional activities grew from 28 in 2008 to 108 in 2015. The Government of Canada has also supported some 240 activities related to the education sector abroad over the past year.

Quick Facts:

The demographic profile of the 495,214 foreign national students who entered Canada between 2009 and 2013 (495,214) are as follows:

  • Gender: More often male (55%) than female (45%)
  • Age: 62% between 18 and 25
  • Level of Study: 63% at the post secondary level
  • Source Country: China (22%) and India (11%) were the most frequent source countries
  • Province/Territory: Ontario (42%), British Columbia (28%), Quebec (16%), Other (14%)

It is estimated that in 2014 the number of internationally mobile students worldwide surpassed 5 million and that by 2022 the number of internationally mobile students will reach 7 million. As a country, Canada provides top of the line education, job opportunities and lenient immigration, which makes it preferable for students to stay and work here as permanent residents. There was an 83% increase in the international student population in Canada from 2008 to 2014. This growth suggests the increase in students' choice of Canada as a destination for education. Growing in numbers, these students hold importance as potential revenue streams for brands and a chance to create long term meaningful relationships. Coming to a completely new environment, these students face a lot of change in every aspect of life - this opens up a window for brands to connect with them.

To capitalize on this, brands have to look beyond short term goals. 51% of international students plan to apply for permanent residence in Canada and 37% of international students plan to remain in Canada for further studies. Only the long term thinking will create value for brands.

Let’s look at an example: students coming to Canada operate on a shoe string budget, so brands need to keep that in consideration when selling to this segment. A telecom company can attract these students by offering value added plans where they can call home at cheaper rates. A perfect before and after sales service will ensure that the consumer sticks with a brand. This is true for all brands and category. Once settled in life, there will be change in the consumption habits, and brands that are top of mind are much more likely to be picked.

The approach is simple, attract the segment with value products and services, and evolve them to consumers of products which they aspire for. Progression in life is an integral part of human behaviour - A continuous and meaningful connection is the key.

With the right mix of product, pricing and promotion, brands can make their way into this segment and create loyalists.

Contact BTI Brand Innovations to help you understand the motivation and challenges of the international student demographic. We can chart out an effective acquisition strategy to tap into this segment, increase market share, and assist with all your ethnic marketing needs. 

Sources: