Fiction & Fact

As with any other ‘new’ community, the emergence of South Asians as a substantial market block has spawned a plethora of ‘expert opinions’ on the community.

Here are 5 of the top ones -

Myth #1. ‘All you need is a person of South Asian origin to translate your mainstream product/service message into a South Asian language and you are all set!’

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Fact: Though it’s extremely common amongst mainstream advertisers/agencies to take this route, it’s almost a criminal waste of money and effort. If the ultimate objective of any communication is to ‘inform & convince’ the target audience, this one critical (mis)step distorts the process.

Problem: Accuracy! That’s right. The transliteration is so (legally) accurate that everything from a colloquial slang to a typical English analogy to even proper nouns (Company & product names etc.) are all faithfully language-converted and ‘forced’ in. The reason for this is simple. Not every translator is a language advertising writer.

Result: The communication never works but then no one’s the wiser! The viewers/listeners never complain (South Asians seldom do) and the advertiser cannot understand the language anyway. The only silver lining here – the innumerable gaffes or the ‘lost in translation’ bits that never fail to tickle.

Solution: This is one activity that must be undertaken by professional ‘advertising writers’ who have the credentials & experience to understand communication objective(s) and can accurately align content with the goals of the campaign.

Myth #2. ‘South Asian immigrants are not very comfortable with the English language’.

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Fact: Incorrect. The truth is that most South Asians understand, write and speak (in their own accent of course) very good English, while some have impeccable English credentials.

Myth #3. ‘South-Asians living in Canada are from Punjab and speak ‘Punjabi’ as their native tongue’.

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Fact: Only a segment of Indians & Pakistanis are from Punjab and speak Punjabi. The rest may not even be able to understand the language. The 6 most spoken & understood languages among South Asians in Canada are Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil, Gujarati, Hindi & Bengali. And English? Read above – Fact #2 – please.

Myth #4. ‘South Asians are such a big block yet there’s no data available to segregate demographics on the basis of region, language & dialect’.

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Fact: That’s not true anymore. There’s increasing data becoming available to ‘position’ specific South Asian linguistic groups within well-defined geographical ‘pockets’ within the GTA. It is anticipated that this trend will only become clearer with time and will spread to other emerging South Asian centers in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina & Montreal.

News Flash! A leading research group is currently tabulating the results of an intensive study of South Asian buying patterns based on cultural & regional preferences. All this is good news for advertisers who have a better chance of ‘aiming’ their communications at targeted zones/communities.

Myth #5. ‘There’re no definitive media choices available to reach the South-Asian market’.

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Fact: Not true. On the contrary, South Asian media in Canada is evolving at a blistering pace and now includes more than 46 round-the-clock television channels, week-long AM & FM radio shows and color glossies.

What is definitely missing is the correct usage of these channels. Advertisers for whom ‘just being out there’ was enough, a quick re-think has now become ever more critical.