Cracking a $32b Consumer Segment

Cracking a $32b Consumer Segment

Sean Zhu, Identity Communication’s business analyst shines a spotlight on a potential audience that’s worth $32b. 

If you’re a marketer, I can recommend a group in Australia that is over 626,000 in size and contributes $32 billion to the Australian economy. They’re easy to reach as they’re concentrated in major cities. They’re young, most are between 18-26 years of age, are tech savvy, enjoy entertainment and travelling and embrace new experiences. They should be a marketer’s dream. But this group maintains a strong connection with the homeland and homeland media channels, so your ‘mainstream’ media may not get through to this large and lucrative group.

You’ve probably guessed, they’re International Students, a potential multicultural marketing segment for Australian brands.

International Student

The numbers are up….

International Student enrolment includes those studying in the Higher Education, VET, Secondary Schooling, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

In 2017, there were 796,529 enrolments. This represents a 12% increase on 2016 and compares with an average annual enrolments growth rate of 4% per year over the preceding ten years.

Higher education a greater contributor

44% of international enrolments in 2017 are in higher education and 27% in vocational education (VET) out of the total number, with China and India being the two largest contributing countries.

VET: The VET sector accounted for 27.2% of total enrolments, India contributed the largest share of in the sector. China was the next largest source country followed by the Republic of Korea and Thailand.3

ELICOS: The English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector accounted for 19.4% of total enrollments in 2017. China was the largest ELICOS market followed by Brazil, Colombia and Thailand.

Higher education: The higher education sector had the largest share in 2017. China and India accounted for 53% of enrolment.
The larger proportion of Higher education means two things:
– Longer time spent in Australia which brings more opportunities for brands
– But they maintain their home networks including social channels, knowing they will return

Tuition Fees
International Students are not eligible for most of the scholarships or student loans and need to pay each semester in advance. Typically, the costs are:

  • ELICOS: $250 – $350 per week, 10-60 weeks
  • VET: $1,000- $20,000 depends on the degree and institution
  • Higher education: The average tuition fee for undergraduate students is around $29,000 per year; Master’s degree ranges from $20,000 to $37,000.
    For example, an International Student studying a Bachelor degree of Marketing and Media (3 years full time) in Macquarie University, the estimated annual fee is $36,450. These fees tend to increase each year.

Geographically concentrated on NSW & VIC

NSW and VIC is home to nearly 70% of international students. And in NSW and VIC, International Students make up one in three students at many universities.


  • This is a young group of consumers, perfect for entertainment, travel, banking, FMCG, food & beverage and beauty brands
  • Reach these audiences via their preferred channels, such as WeChat, Weibo, YouKu, to name a few
Ten things to consider when developing bespoke multicultural creative

Ten things to consider when developing bespoke multicultural creative

Tailoring your creative to specific multicultural audiences will deliver a 100% increase in engagement, says Thang Ngo. Marketers need to see the value in true bespoke multicultural creative to capture the attention of their entire audience.

Almost five million Australians speak a language other than English at home, according to the 2016 Census – up 20% from five years ago!

Brands looking for new growth opportunities are increasingly eyeing their multicultural marketing potential. But when the ‘rubber hits the road’, marketers and their agencies rightly devote time and resources to getting the media schedules right but often default to running their ‘mainstream’ creative assets when clearly bespoke creative would be considerably more effective.

How effective you may ask? We are seeing a 100% increase in engagement in some instances when culturally relevant creative work is introduced.

Advertising basics recognise the complementary contribution of media and creative in an effective campaign. But at the first creative development hurdle for their multicultural campaign, advertisers are often signing off on less effectiveness by running mainstream creativity.

Many clients think it’s too hard or costly to develop bespoke in-language creative for their brands, overwhelmingly opting to translate their existing ‘mainstream’ creative. I am sure that instinctively clients know that a lack of relevant creative reduces the performance of their campaigns.

Their media schedule might provide great reach and cost effectiveness, but the creative could turn the audience off.

Of course, one size does not fit all. Budget, timing and other factors come in to play in the real world. Here are some considerations that might help focus more attention to multicultural creative development:

  • Budget – If the marketing budget is limited, it might not be feasible to invest in bespoke creative because it might take a disproportionate share of the budget.
  • Timing – In-language creative often takes longer to produce, sourcing the right talent from a limited pool and translation lead time might complicate your logistics.
  • Creative capacity – There isn’t the breadth of creative and production talent compared to mainstream, so this may impact on the quality of the message you are crafting.
  • Collaboration – Consider if your current creative agency could work with a cultural consultant during creative concept and development.
  • Face to camera – If it’s just a voiceover, then consider re-voicing the commercial.
  • Customise static assets – TV production requires a larger budget, but if you’re doing a print advert that has talent, consider shooting the mainstream material with a mix of talent or shooting talent that’s from a relevant community for your campaign.
  • Product benefit – Particularly in the beauty category, a well-known culturally relevant talent may be the inspiration for this audience, so maybe subtitling is all that’s needed. However, if the benefits of a beauty product might be better demonstrated on someone with a skin tone similar to your target audience, the talent choice may not be appropriate.
  • Your brand – If you are a major multinational, and you’re investing a significant budget in media, is there an expectation that you should develop tailored creative for the target community?
  • Brand sentiment benefits – In an environment where creative is almost always translated from mainstream, consider the significant uplift in positive brand sentiment from investing in bespoke creative.
  • ROI – Brands that appreciate and focus on tailoring their creative to multicultural audiences will reap the benefit of a little extra investment. It’s advertising 101.

Ignore the importance of multicultural creative development at your own peril.

Thang Ngo is managing director at Identity Communications.

This article first appeared as an Opinion Piece in Marketing Magazine.

Lunar New Year Gifting

Lunar New Year Gifting

Just in time to welcome the Year of the Dog, Brenda Leung, Identity Communications Insights and Production Manager writes about New Year gift giving.

Gift giving plays an important role in Asian culture, especially during cultural festivals and special occasions. The Lunar New Year is the perfect time to prepare something special for your loved ones. It is essential to get something heartfelt, and at the same time meaningful with a good will message embedded in the gift. So choosing an appropriate and presentable New Year gift could be a headache; ranging from wines to food and tea, and to suit a variety of tastes for young and old.

Here are some quick ideas for the two most popular gift choices for you to consider.

Traditionally, Chinese and many other Asian cultures believe taking a precautionary approach is the most effective way to maintain good health conditions, and the most common practice to achieve this is through consumption of natural herbs or food with good nutritional values. For this reason, no other gifts can be better than any nourishing and nutritious herbs/food that can benefit one’s health with good nutritional value or natural remedies outcomes, especially if that gift is for the senior member in the family.

Brita Chinese New Year 2018

To make the process of getting the herb/natural food gifts easier, there are supplements of various brands available in supermarkets and pharmacist’s shops where you can find nutritious herbs and medicines such as various types of vitamins, fish oil, wolfberries, jujube dates, black sesame seeds, ginseng root and royal jelly. They’re stacked on shelves taking up the entire aisle, usually in gift boxes and are ready to give away as gifts. There are always the supplements that are suitable for certain age groups or one for the whole family.

Nowadays, supplements are the “modern form” of the traditional natural herbs and remedies, and can also make fantastic Lunar New Year gifts. They are particularly well received by people living in cities than those in rural areas, who are leading a busy life and are more likely to show others that they are always in the new trend.

Red Packets

For children, red packets with money inside are the most popular gifts during New Year. Who isn’t happy to get additional pocket money? Or for those parents who have long-run plans for the next generation, it is a good time to open a bank account and start the whole financial management journey for their children, with an educational purpose behind the whole idea.

No matter what gifts you are going to present to your family and friends, what’ most important is the loving thoughts – goodwill wishes of happiness, wellness and prosperity.

Cashing in on Chinese New Year

Cashing in on Chinese New Year

Money talks! How these brands are cashing in on Chinese New Year.

Even though the Lunar New Year is celebrated by many communities such as Vietnamese and Korean, the sheer size of the Chinese dollar, or should we say Yuan, means many brands conveniently only recognising it as Chinese New Year.

Here are a few examples of brands cashing in on the Lunar New Year in 2018. Come back regularly, we’ll update this post as new campaigns launch.

City of Sydney
While most other Sydney council celebrate Lunar New Year, it’s Chinese New Year for the City of Sydney, which speaks volumes about their the People’s Republic of China’s generous in-kind support of the Festival as well as the abundant investment and business potential.

READ: A complete list of all Lunar New Year Festivals in Sydney, 2018.

city of sydney Chinese New Year festival


Chobani’s Chinese New Year Batch combines mandarin with Greek yogurt decorated with red and gold packaging as symbols of good luck and prosperity which also features a dragon composed from mandarin.

chobani Chinese New Year 2018


The Star
Sydney’s Casino is cashing in (pun intended) with food, competitions and promotions featuring lots of 8’s.

the Star Lunar New Year 2018


Park your dollar with the ANZ in either a term deposit for 8 months for a special interest rate or open an online savings account for a special rate for the first 8 months.

ANZ lunar new year 2018


Selected stores are going red and gold for Lunar New Year (Cabramatta store below).

Woolworths Cabramatta Lunar New Year 2018


Score 888 Woolworths Reward points if you spend more than $30 at BWS.

BWS Lunar New Year 2018


World Square
Lunar New Year 2018 via augmented reality.

World square lunar new year 2018

Sydney Tower Eye
All you can eat dumplings as you watch Sydney go by.

Sydney Tower Eye Lunar New Year 2018


Luna Park
Between 16-18 February experience lion dances and firecrackers before you go on a hair raising ride.

Luna Park Chinese New Year 2018


Lotus Dining
We all have to eat right? Restaurants are ready to feed your belly for Lunar New Year.

Lotus Dining Lunar New Year 2018


Camera Electric
Online retailers are getting into the act. Camera Electric has specials on Leica camera, lenses and accessories.

Camera Electric Chinese New Year 2018


Using WeChat to reach Chinese consumers in Australia

Using WeChat to reach Chinese consumers in Australia

How to reach Chinese audience in Australia with WeChat

Are you interested in Marketing to Chinese consumers? Nolan Yu, a former PR ninja in Shanghai, now a media warrior in Sydney, writes this guest post about WeChat, the Chinese social platform that ‘rules them all’.

You might not use the WeChat, but I am sure you’ve heard about this Chinese instant messaging app, which The Economist has labelled the “one app to rule them all”. The 2017 WeChat User Report from Tencent revealed the average time spent in WeChat is now 66 minutes per day, creating little doubt that WeChat is the no.1 platform to reach the Chinese audience today.

Last year, The New York Times posted a video called How China is Changing Your Internet which perfectly demonstrated the mind-blowing functions WeChat can offer and how this app changed Chinese people’s day to day life. You can even order a meal in a restaurant that has no wait staff or menus.

Today in Australia, users can’t do all of those cool things on WeChat, because some functionality aren’t available outside of China. What functions can we use in Australia? How can we leverage those functions to reach the local Chinese community?

If you want to know the answer, please keep reading…

Why use WeChat?

Even though I have WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and SnapChat on my phone, I rely on WeChat to stay in touch with my Chinese and some non-Chinese friends. In Australia, some Chinese SMB owners use the ‘group chat’ function to reach and directly communicate with customers, and in app functionality allows you to easily share and scan the group’s QR code to spread it among contacts to join the chat group.

As WeChat is called the “one app to rule them all”,  it refers to a features that at a minimum, can do whatever Facebook can offer, including ‘Page’ and ‘Timeline’. They call these functions ‘Moments’ in WeChat. This is where I maintain my loose relationships through that news feed and posting pictures, liking and commenting on others’ posts. ‘WeChat Moments Ads’ (sponsored posts) are available for advertisers, unfortunately, this tool hasn’t been rolled out to Australia yet to target Australian users. Advertisers can however, target Chinese users in China with this feature, and potentially those who are tourists.

The good news is the first-ever ‘Moments Ads’ was just launched in North America, so I reckon we don’t have to wait too long for it to arrive in Australia. I reckon it will open a new door for Australian marketers to reach local Chinese.


BMW Moments Advert

BMW’s Moments Advertisement

WeChat is also the main source of information for most Chinese, including myself, as I try to catch up with the latest trends in China while living in Sydney. For example, on my way to work, I read articles and reports from LinkedIn and The Business of Fashion (BoF) by simply subscribing to their official accounts (almost all major publishers and brands have their own accounts).

Nolan’s WeChat subscriptions.


I also follow some Chinese influencers such as one of China’s top fashion blogger, ‘gogoboi’. The latest post, sponsored by YSL, has exceeded 100,000+ views (the largest number can be shown in the post).


gogoboi’s post sponsored by YSL


The feature of the official account is not limited to just posting articles, as WeChat has opened their ecosystem to brands and developers. You can actually consider it as a web browser, where brands can plug in their online store, offer 24/7 customer service and enable chatbots to serve their official accounts. It means users don’t need to leave the app to make the transaction, which is powered by WeChat’s online payment platform, WeChat Wallet.

More and more Chinese businesses operating in Australia have started supporting WeChat Wallet (or their biggest rival, Alipay), where users can pay by scanning a QR code. There are three leading payment mPOS and POS systems in Australia that are enabling retailers and advertisers to connect to these Chinese payment systems – PayLinx, Dinpay and Royal Pay.


WeChat Wallet

WeChat Wallet


Australian Brands on WeChat

The recently released June 2017 Census data shows that there are over half a million Chinese-born residents in Australia with NSW being home to about half of this population. So you shouldn’t be surprised that there are publishers curating localised content for those Chinese residents.

Some Australian businesses like Westfield Australia, David Jones, and Qantas have their own official WeChat accounts to build brand awareness and manage customer loyalty.


David Jones' WeChat

David Jones’ Official WeChat Account


Local official accounts also mean opportunities for advertisers to target local audiences. Unfortunately, WeChat’s display advertising service is not yet available in Australia (it’s planned for Q4 of 2017). But just like how you work with Australian bloggers, you can directly contact those official account representatives to purchase banners built in their posts, or more easily, through IDENTITY Communications, the intelligent multicultural marketing agency.

WeChat Sponsored Posts

In addition, if you have a higher budget, you can also develop native content, or organise a brand sponsored event with those publishers. The challenge here is that there are not many local publishers with a strong subscriber base. Two major Sydney publishers are WeSydney and SydneyToday. 


Sydney Today's WeChat

Sydney Today’s WeChat Display Banners


QR Codes & HTML5 on WeChat

The last thing I want to mention are QR codes and HTML 5 campaigns. To be honest, I am surprised that I still haven’t seen any QR Code Outdoor campaigns or HTML 5 WeChat campaigns yet in Sydney, which I think could be an opportunity for Australian advertisers. WeChat html5 campaign


There is a code scanner embedded in ‘WeChat’, which is commonly used in Chinese OOH campaigns that include the QR code in their creative assets and message tag line as a call to action to drive a direct response. By scanning the Code, users can be directed to the campaign web page, or the brand’s WeChat official account. More importantly, Chinese audiences are familiar with this format, since they have formed this behaviour in China. So when you include the QR code in your campaign, your brand will create the opportunity for a direct communication channel with them.


‌Kindle OOH QR Code Campaign

‌Kindle OOH QR Code Campaign


QR Code WeChat Creative

QR Code WeChat Campaign at Metro Station in China


But it doesn’t mean you should simply include the QR code in every campaign and expect Chinese people scan it. Your content and the way you incorporate a QR code definitely needs to be interesting, engaging. It should offer a value exchange to give potential customers enough incentive to pull out their phones and scan the code.

Hope it helps, please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions.

Credit: Main image from Business Insider all other images provided by Nolan Yu.

Infographic: The Chinese Community In Australia

Infographic: The Chinese Community In Australia

The size of the Chinese community in Australia

It seems like every marketer is interested in the Chinese community. That’s probably because, apart from English (naturally), Mandarin is now the most spoken language in Australia (overtaking Italian since the 2011 Census). When we combine all Chinese languages; Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Teo Cheo and more, the total Chinese speaking population in Australia is around 650,000. 

And this audience spends. In addition to normal expenditure to set up a new life in Australia, this group includes a significant number of high value consumers as evidenced by house purchase, luxury labels and luxury cars etc. So it’s not surprising we’ve seen a spike in interest from existing and new clients in multicultural marketing (or as some clients still call it, ethnic marketing).

Given the last Census was in 2011, IDENTITY used migration figures from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and forecast natural attrition rate to project the Chinese speaking population to June 2016 (it will be interesting to see how close our estimate is to the 2016 Census figure when it’s released on 27 June).

International Student data is sourced from the Department of Education and Training, Tourism data from Tourism Australia.

IDENTITY Communications is a strategy led, award-winning multicultural marketing agency. We are part of the global IPG Mediabrands group. If you find this information useful, please consider following us for more updates:

IDENTITY Chinese infographic APRIL 2017

NB: Infographic revised 19 April 2017.