In many ways, Vancouver exudes an ineffable nature. She’s beautiful yet aloof, highly livable yet unaffordable, Canadian yet Asian, and affluent despite the dearth of head offices. Yes, Vancouver is a study in contrasts and this is exactly what makes her an evasive market for marketers. It’s true — many marketers don’t understand Vancouver. This is only exacerbated by distance as many national marketers and budgets are domiciled in the east.

So, what makes Vancouver so different? Forget weather, housing prices, lifestyle, green initiatives and other external factors and complaints. Yes, they are all variables but when it comes to consumer spending, there’s one big variable driving the market almost to the exclusion of anything else: China and the Chinese.

Admittedly, this is not a new phenomenon. The Chinese consumer in Vancouver has been a differentiating factor since before 1997 when Hong Kong was repatriated with Mainland China. At that time, tens of thousands of Hong Kongers fled the region with Vancouver and Toronto being beneficiaries of this migration. After that, the Taiwanese made their way over due to political overtures from China. And in the last decade, the Chinese from China have introduced themselves with aplomb. Seen in another way: for two decades Metro Vancouver has been buoyed by the influx of customers and capital that have redefined the local market.

Today, that market phenomenon continues unabated with China’s burgeoning middle class continuing to discover the wonders of Vancouver, including the best Chinese food in North America. Significantly, it’s important to note that this migration of population and capital is not stopping, fostering a pipeline of consumers the West has rarely seen. The last 20 years has reshaped Vancouver in a way that’s distinctive and unique, unlike any market on the continent. Here are just a few interesting tidbits:

  • 36,000 Chinese millionaires have landed in Vancouver in the past eight years
  • One third of all real estate in Vancouver last year was bought by Chinese
  • Vancouver is the number one market for ultra-luxury vehicles in North America

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