A tale of two states

Amongst the different migrant populations in Canada, South Asian is amongst the highest. Statistics Canada says the proportion of foreign-born people from Asian and Middle Eastern countries has long outstripped those of European heritage.

However, while marketing to the Indian/South Asian population, it is important to realise that their as different as chalk and cheese within themselves too. Out of all the Indian states, Punjabi’s and Tamilians account for a vast chunk of the ‘outsourced’ population here in Canada.

In trying to figure them out, it’s important to understand certain cultural and social nuances that undermine their attitudes and behaviours, which would make it possible to take marketing to them beyond mere language translation.

Here;s what I’ve learnt about them, from living amongst them for over 20 years:


-They’re large hearted, happy people and believe life is about celebrating the good times in full swing. Hence, song and dance is a large part of who they are.


-They live to eat and at social occasions, the food will be a large conversation topic.

– They take bold initiatives in business and are strong-willed to see things through till the end. They might not be well educated, but business (over or under the table),runs in their veins.

-Outwardly driven, they like living life kingsize. Hence, their homes will be huge houses with 2 and more cars in the driveway. The clothes they wear too, will have flash value. However, they don’t flaunt this way of living, it’s just a part of who they are. (This also stems from the fact that back home in India, most Punjabi’s originate from Chandigarh, a state with huge  fields, wide roads and ample space)

-Getting Punjabi’s to loosen their purse strings won’t take more than a little cajoling if they know it’ll be worth it.


-A contrast to the Punjabi’s, the Tamilians are a close-guarded, conservative community.

-Education and knowledge is the foundation of their beliefs and lifestyle. Hence, in terms of spending, the acquisition of knowledge is probably the only thing they’ll spend on without remorse.

-Stemming from a heritage that is over 2000 years old, Tamilians were a part of the brahmin class, and were very often the high priests of society. Knowledge and religious scriptures were their forte. Hence, living a righteous life, being vegetarian and visiting the temple often are traits that are instilled in their culture till date.

While the Punjabi’s are the loud, pompous lot and the Tamilians are the reserved intellectuals, they both share alot in common- like pride in motherland, cultural values and a clanish outlook.

This is just a sneak peak into their lives, I’m still discovering how these diverse culture groups behave while living in Canada, amidst an amalgamation of nationalities, thus influencing their perceptions and attitudes and changing the rules of the game.