The landscape of Marketing has changed dramatically in Canada since the early 80’s when Canadian Consumer Brands, and companies, supported thriving research, advertising, PR and promotion industries in both Montreal and Toronto, focused on the Canadian market. (Yup! I’ve been around that long!)
Now, the majority of Brands are handled out of the U.S. by a North American Brand Manager. Others are managed by Product Managers located here in Canada, with the U.S. acting as lead market and providing the strategy, direction and plan for Marketing efforts here. The phenomenon of Canadian Marketing still exists, but is the exception to the rule.
Increasingly, the concept of “Global Brands” has become an important, and logical, trend in Marketing due to the synergies, improved efficiencies and the ease of exchanging information. Because the consumer has access to the same information around the world, the user franchise has generally become more homogeneous.
So this leads me to a question. What do you do when a market is not adequately homogeneous to the primary target audience?
There are usually three choices:
- Directly implement the global Brand/product strategy in the Market so you have a presence/some activity
- Don’t do anything, ignore it and keep the investment for the markets where it can have an impact
- Customize the marketing programme by adapting or tweaking it for the cultural or ethnic differences.
Quebec is to Canada what Canada is to the U.S.
My point is that Quebec is to Canada what Canada is to the United States. It is a smaller, distinct market which shares common characteristics with the larger Market. However in the area where it diverges, it diverges significantly.
For example, Coke is the Market Leader everywhere in the world except for the province of Quebec, where Pepsi rules. Female consumers in Quebec have historically been the heaviest consumers of fashion and beauty, per capita, regardless of price.
Yes, there is the challenge of marketing in a language other than English. There is no doubt this adds a level of complexity and expense to the effort. But the consumers of the province are highly loyal to those who make an effort to reach out to them, often making the return on investment worthwhile.
Going forward, the Marketing organizations of important Brands will have increasingly difficult decisions to make regarding resources. If the decision to implement global programmes or, worst case, ignore marketing to Quebec is taken, does it suggest that the same decision will eventually be taken with regards to the Canadian market as a whole?