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Lost in translation


There are many ethnic grocers in Canada and some of them are concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area.

Galleria Supermarket is one of them, having been in operation for about 10 years with currently two locations in GTA. At Galleria Supermarket, a shopper can find key ethnic national brands from South Korea.

It has been a known trend that as the ethnic grocers grow their presence in the GTA, it’s not only ethnic consumers shopping in the market but more than ever non-Koreans shopping for these ethnic products for their family.

Galleria's York Mill's branch exemplifies this diverse customer base for ethnic grocers. However, mainstream shoppers at ethnic retailers often run into a dilemma while browsing. Many of them pick up a product and wonder what they can do with it.

There are some exceptions; customers may already have some knowledge of the product driven from their strong interest towards the cuisine or there are in-store POPs that show them what they can do with the product while cooking it at home. But it remains almost impossible for the retailers to provide a POP or cooking instructions for every single product in the store.

I strongly believe that everyone in the chain needs to work together to resolve this “lost in translation” dilemma for shoppers. Most importantly, ethnic national brand manufacturers need to realize that they have very good selection of appealing products for the mainstream North American market and consumer base.

While some popular products that are being manufactured with English labels for exporting purposes, there are still huge unrecognized opportunities in the market.

It remains challenging for manufacturers to create English labels for their entire product lines for North American consumers since it would require a large investment of capital and time.

Manufactures also feel that it is very difficult for them to understand the supply and demand equation since demand is growing rapidly and communication between manufacturers and retailers/importers isn’t always as efficient as it could be.

This isn't just a problem for independent ethnic grocers in the GTA. National chains are buying more ethnic products and also wish that all the appealing ethnic national brand grocery products had more English/French labels.

Add to this that most of the ethnic national brand manufacturers underestimate their market potential in Quebec and the importance of English/French labelling. They seem to see Canada as a part of their North American (U.S.) market and do not seem to understand the market size and growth potential in French-speaking regions in Canada. Thus, even some popular products do not have bilingual labelling and have English-only for their products.

I believe that effective communication and collaboration between shopper-retailer-importer and manufacturers can only improve labelling as well as result in greater top line results for everyone in the chain.

Shoppers are willing to try new foreign products but they they need to know what they can do with it.

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