Cultural Diversity and its Impact on Global Consumer Markets

Strategy Briefing

About This Report

Mar 2015

Strong migration flows, combined with higher birth rates among minority populations, have led to an unprecedented level of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity in developed markets. This, along with ethnic minority consumers’ rising incomes, is profoundly impacting lifestyles and shopping behaviour within Western societies. This global report identifies the new opportunities open to marketers and the shift from traditional ethnic marketing to “marketing in a multicultural world”.

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Cultural Diversity and its Impact on Global Consumer Markets

Ethnic change as a market driver

The changing ethnic, cultural and religious mix within Western societies is having a profound impact on consumer lifestyles, shopping behaviour and company strategies.

Minority communities often identify with one another on the basis of a boundary that distinguishes them from the majority of the population or other minorities, for example common ancestry or elements of cultural, language or religion.

The key factors affecting the ethnic and cultural mix of populations include people moving more between countries for purposes of work, leisure or study; migration and asylum; and generally higher birth rates among ethnic communities.

From an economic point of view, migrants contribute to the prosperity of their host countries, helping fill employment gaps when necessary and rejuvenating ageing populations and workforces.

Migration is also contributing strongly to the growth of urbanisation and to overall population growth in markets where birth rates are stagnant.

US has the largest number of foreign citizens

The US had the highest number of foreign citizens among developed markets, at over 22 million in 2013. Most of the growth in people of ethnic backgrounds has come from higher birth rates among naturalised or second-generation Hispanics.

Asian communities are growing strongly in countries such as the US, Australia and Canada. Asians recently surpassed Hispanics as the largest wave of new immigrants to the US, with increased border enforcement suppressing illegal immigration via Mexico.

Other developed markets with substantial foreign populations include Australia (8 million foreign-born citizens), and Germany (8 million foreign residents).

Australia has the most diverse population

Australia has become the most diverse nation in the world, with foreign-born people accounting for 31% of its total population and a net migration rate of 9.8 per 1,000 population in 2013.

Immigration flows in Europe have continued apace. In Italy, the number of foreign citizens rocketed by 51% between 2008 and 2013. Italy was once a country of mass emigration but it is now Europe’s first port of call for economic migrants sailing over the Mediterranean from Africa.

Other key markets in which foreign populations grew strongly over the review period include the UK (24%) and Canada (11%). The Syrian crisis brought thousands of refugees to Turkey, causing its foreign population to soar by 131% over the review period.

Switzerland is a very popular destination for émigrés, due to its wealth, employment opportunities and high wages. However, its strict laws place barriers on naturalisation and in 2013, as much as 23% of its population was foreign.

The proportion of foreign citizens residing in Japan and South Korea is still very low, at less than 2% of their populations. This may change in the coming years, as Japan, faced with low birth rates and an ageing population, looks to bring in high-skilled workers from overseas.

Spain witnessed a spectacular decline in immigration over the review period, as its unemployment rate skyrocketed after the recession hit in 2008. In 2013 alone, over half a million people left Spain, causing net migration to fall to -152,000.

Economic migration and Refugees are the main drivers

For many economic migrants, the main reason for travelling abroad for work is to be able to send money home to their families. Developing countries like India, Pakistan and the Philippines have long experienced a “brain drain” of skilled workers to richer countries.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were some 17.9 million refugees/asylum seekers fleeing persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations in 2013.

Younger, better educated and richer

An increasing number of young people are choosing to study or work abroad – especially in English-speaking countries. China sends the largest number of overseas students, while the US is the largest host nation for international students.

Migrants tend to be younger than the general population and have larger families. They tend to cluster in large cities, although second and third generation migrants seem to be shifting towards suburbs and semi-rural locations.

Poverty rates among migrants are declining in some countries, and studies show that minority groups are more economically empowered than ever before, as they become more highly educated. This is contributing to their greater purchasing power.

In the US, Asian-Americans are the highest income and best educated racial group in the country, with 61% of those who have come from Asia in recent years having at least a bachelor’s degree.

Higher levels of education among African-American consumers has led to increases in household income, with 44% of all African-American households now earning US$50,000 or more, and 23% earning above US$75,000.

In the UK, the average British Indian man is now reported to be on a higher income than his white counterpart, and research shows that the spending power of the black and minority ethnic (BME) community shot up from just £32 million in 2001 to £300 billion in 2011.

In Germany, Turkish consumers are estimated to spend some €2.3 billion on consumer goods annually, but the more recent wave of immigrants from Poland are now the best educated minority in Germany. Two thirds of Polish immigrants have secondary or higher education.

As a result of continuous immigration into developed markets, and higher birth rates among existing minorities, religious diversity is growing. In particular, there has been a significant rise in the number of Muslims throughout Europe, North America and Australasia.

Growing religious diversity

According to the website, Europe (including Russia) is now home to around 51 million Muslims, while a further 7 million live in North America.

France has Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, equal to over 7% of the total population, while over 5% of the populations is Muslim in Austria, Germany, Greece, Netherlands and Switzerland.

There were estimated to be some 13.9 million Jews in the world in 2013, equal to just 0.2% of the global population. Many countries have a small Jewish population, but as much as 82% of the Jewish community is concentrated in Israel and the US.

Cultural Diversity and its Impact on Global Consumer Markets


Market drivers
Chart 1 Leading Countries for Net Migration in 2013
Impact on consumer markets
Marketing strategy
Chart 2 Forecast Numbers of Foreign Citizens in Developed Markets 2018


Shared values
People on the move
The rise of bi-culturalism
Asylum seekers


Increase in foreign citizens
Greater mobility
The US melting pot
Australia and Germany are desirable destinations
Italy sees rapid growth
Table 1 Number of Foreign Citizens Residing in Developed Markets 2008/2013
Australia has highest penetration of foreign citizens
Switzerland’s wealth attracts foreign professionals
Japan and South Korea lag behind
Chart 3 Proportion of Foreign Citizens Residing in Developed Markets 2013
Migration trends
The search for a better life
EU enlargement led to surge in movement between states
Net migration highest in the US
Spain’s downturn leads to an exodus of migrants
Table 2 Net Migration by Country 2008/2013
Table 3 Net Migration by Country 2008/2013
Mixed attitudes towards immigration
Economic and cultural benefits
Remittance flows
Chart 4 Top 10 Countries by Remittance Inflows 2013
Chart 5 Top 10 Countries by Remittance Outflows 2013
Refugees/Asylum Seekers
Numbers continue to rise
Germany is largest recipient of asylum applications
Syrians flock to Turkey to escape crisis
Australia toughens up
Table 4 Number of Refugees/Asylum Seekers in Selected Markets 2008/2013
Foreign study
Strong demand from China
Overseas students contribute to economic growth
Table 5 Number of Foreign Students in Selected Host Countries 2008/2013
Influence on demographics
Ethnic minorities have generally youthful populations
Chart 6 Age Structure of Hispanic Population in the US 2013
...And bigger families
Concentration in urban areas
Regenerating American cities
Growing purchasing power of ethnic consumers
Minorities gain economic clout
Asian-Americans have above average incomes
African Americans shop frequently
Chart 7 Median Household Incomes in the US by Race/Ethnicity, June 2014
UK Asians are high earners
Religious diversity
United by faith
Muslim communities grow
US has largest Jewish community outside Israel
Table 6 Selected Religions by Country in 2010


Islamic consumerism
A market worth US$2 trillion
Halal food
Challenges to overcome
Case study: France’s halal market takes off
Reputation for quality
Lamb is the preferred meat
Table 7 Global Sales of Meat by Type 2008/2013
Muslim-friendly restaurants
Case study: UK foodservice companies go halal
Anti-halal backlash
Halal personal care makes an entrance
Hair care products for veiled hair
Halal health
Islamic fashion
Halal holidays
Western destinations step up their Islamic services
Islamic banking
The Kosher market
Food and drink
Ethnic consumers buy in large quantities
Price is the overriding factor
Table 8 Shopping Behaviour Among Canadian Ethnic Consumers 2014
Eating habits differ by community
Supermarkets take up the challenge
Asda widens its world food offer
Morrisons supports world food events
The Hispanic food market
New product developments
Mainstream consumers become more adventurous
Influence on consumer foodservice
The search for authenticity
Ethnic skin care
Segmenting the offer
Addressing ethnic skin problems
Asians drive skin whitening category
Table 9 Skin Whitening Anti-Agers as a % Of All Anti-Agers 2008/2013
Matching skin tone
Targeted advertising
Ethnic hair care
Addressing specific hair care needs
Hair care a priority for black women
Market continues to grow
Trend towards natural ingredients
Weave becomes more popular
A fragmented market
Summary 1 Selected Ethnic Hair Care Launches 2013-2014
Ethnic men’s grooming and sun protection – growing niches


Consumers from ethnic minorities still under-represented
Varying techniques
Multicultural marketing
US companies invest heavily in Hispanic media
Chart Largestt Spenders in Hispanic Media in 2013
Case study: Kraft wins over the US Hispanic community
Total market and cross cultural approaches
Communication preferences
Creating affinity
Language barriers
Supporting community causes
Use of social media
Younger, tech-savvy audiences
Celebrity endorsement
Universal appeal
Launching ethnic beauty lines
The power of black athletes
Summary 2 Leading Multicultural Celebrity Brands
Acquisition of ethnic brands


Almost a third of population born overseas
10 million consumers from ethnic minorities
Chinese Australians among the country’s most educated
Chart 8 Australia: Foreign Versus Native Population 2008/2013/2018
Chart 9 Australia: Top 10 Foreign-born Populations by Place of Birth 2008/2013
Small but growing Muslim community
Most new immigrants of Asian origin
Chart 10 Canada: Foreign Versus Canada-born Population 2008/2013/2018
Chart 11 Canada: Top Five Foreign-born Populations by Place of Birth 2008/2013
Chart 12 Canada: Permanent Residents Admitted by Source Country 2012
A fifth of the population now first or second generation immigrants
Maghreb remains largest source region for France’s minorities
Chart 13 France: Foreign-born Versus France-born Population 2008/2013/2018
Chart 14 France: Top 10 Foreign-born Populations by Place of Birth 2008/2013
Ethnic tensions run high
Migrants support German economy
Turks remain the dominant ethnic community
12% of population is of migrant background
Attitudes towards German identity
Chart 15 Germany: German Versus Foreign Citizens 2008/2013/2018
Chart 16 Germany: Top Five Foreign Populations by Citizenship 2008/2013
Adapting to the growing Muslim population
BME groups account for 16% of population
A new wave of immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria
A popular destination for foreign students
Chart 17 UK: Foreign-born Versus UK-born Population 2008/2013/2018
Chart 18 UK: Top 10 Foreign-born Populations by Place of Birth 2008/2013
Chart 19 UK: Non-White Population by Race/Ethnicity 2013
Islam is the UK’s fastest growing religion
Immigration policy favours diversity
Hispanics straddle two cultures
African-Americans place importance on heritage
Asian-Americans are a lucrative consumer group
Share of foreign-born population remains stable at 13%
Chart 20 US: Foreign-born Versus US-born Population 2008/2013/2018
Chart 21 US: Top 10 Foreign-born Populations by Place of Birth 2008/2013
Chart 22 US: Total Population by Race/Ethnicity in 2013
Muslim and Jewish communities


Trends to watch
Diversity is here to stay
A critical market
Ethnic beauty – room for development
Expanding the world food offer
Higher birth rates drive demand for baby products
Targeting the Muslim dollar
Specialist e-tailers
Opportunities in the events market
The shift towards cross-cultural marketing
The power of the black celebrity
Immigration flows will continue
But policies will become more stringent
Table Forecast Numbers of Foreign Citizens in Developed Markets 2013/2018
Table 10 Forecast Net Migration in Key Markets 2013/2018