“We have a strong economy that’s expected to grow well into next year,” Brisbois pointed out. Driven primarily by Alberta, British Columbia and other parts of Western Canada, the growth is such and unemployment is so low that Canada’s biggest problem next year will be serious labor shortages. As a result, there’s a record amount of money being spent now on developing training programs and incentives for employees.
Canada has added about 270,000 jobs since November, while the unemployment rate has fallen to a 31-year low of 6.1 percent, the Conference Board of Canada said on April 16.
Some more facts Brisbois shared about Canadian consumers that are worth noting if you consider exploring this country. In brief, Canadians are,
* not loyal to brands, although they’re brand-conscious,
* value- and price-conscious,
* demand complete information, and
* they don’t find shopping fun.
“If your strength is your brand,” Brisbois said, “consumers will want you to prove that. Customers move from one brand to another, not just for price, but also for customer experience.”
Back Off Quebec
One last thought I brought back with me from Toronto: Steer clear of Quebec. To sell to this French-speaking province requires more than merely translating your catalog or Web site to French. How about the need for a French-speaking call center, just for starters? A French-language Web site that ensures that every single link is also entirely in French?
So unless you have the capital to establish an entirely new business to operate out of Quebec, I’d turn back if I were you. And even if you were to launch a new company there, French-speaking Quebecois primarily support locally-based retailers. For instance, they won’t even let Starbucks open any shops in Quebec City. What’s more, Quebecois generally aren’t direct marketing responsive.