How to Enter the Canadian Market Without Missing a Beat

Many people (and businesses) assume that the approach for marketing to Canadians is very similar to marketing to Americans. On the surface level, this is an easy misconception. The people look similar, sound similar, and have a relatively similar outlook.

But, when you dive into the specifics of how these two segments function as consumers, you’ll quickly realize that even though they share a border, there is a world of differences. Canada is one of the most progressive and rapidly advancing nations on the planet. Reaching consumers in this country of over 35 million people is an effort that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

I recently took on the role of co-host on “This Week in Marketing” – a bi-monthly radio show sponsored by the American Marketing Association’s San Diego Chapter. The show is also hosted by Sam Wheeler, SEO manager from Inseev Interactive.

In this past installment, Sam and I brought in Robert Laplante, a Canada native and Founder of Media-Corps, an advertising and marketing agency specializing in helping U.S brands reach the Canadian market.

We covered a lot of ground in this show and Robert provided all kinds of interesting tidbits for how companies can make an impact on America’s neighbor to the north.

In the first segment, we discussed some of the most prominent characteristics of Canadian consumers from an overview perspective. We also talked about how the market has evolved over the years. Robert came to the United States in 2007, prior to the United States recession. An interesting point made was that the Canadian banks and real estate markets did not collapse like the United States’ did. This presented a golden opportunity for Canada to take on more leadership in North America, which opened the door to gain more market share and strengthen Canadian values. We also touched on where the Canadian market might be heading in the future. Unfortunately, given the current political climate, it’s tough to tell what lies ahead…

Segment two was all about the cultural differences between Americans and Canadians. We talked about the differences in spending habits, regulatory contrasts between the two countries, and a few key characteristics that many brands overlook when trying to gain traction. One of the big takeaways from this segment was that Canadians tend to be more skeptical of brand messaging than Americans. Therefore, building relationships and trust with consumers needs to be a top concern for marketers.

The third segment of the show dove into some actionable tips for brands looking to make a lasting impression on the Canadian market. Robert lays out a number of critical steps and precautions to take when building a campaign from the ground up. Robert discusses Target’s momentous failure to expand to Canada, the reasons behind it, and what brands can learn.

Our final segment got a bit more in-depth with Robert providing specific details about creating a checklist for entering the Canadian market. This involved some strategies for conducting research and formulating the media planning and buying process.

Are you interested in marketing your brand in Canada? Be sure to listen to the show for some expert advice from an industry veteran!

About the Guest:

Robert Laplante - Founder of Media-Corps

Robert founded Media-Corps in 2007. The company specializes in both traditional and digital media. This includes television, radio, out-of-home, magazines, newspaper, programmatic, pre-roll video, a wide range of digital solutions, and more. Over the years, Robert has helped a number of high-profile clients reach the Canadian market. These include The North Face, Whole Foods, Budget Blinds, Garmin, Jelly Belly, among others.

About The Hosts:

 Sam Wheeler is a life-long marketer and the VP of Communications at the AMA San Diego. He graduated from Northwestern University and has since worked on marketing projects for companies in Asia, Central America, and North America. His current projects include a website crawler called Rapid Rex and a new line of FACT Goods hats for a cause!

Kevin Svec is a chief content strategist at E2M. He spends his days researching and helping businesses produce compelling content that resonates with audiences of all interest levels. When he’s not rock climbing or hanging out at one of San Diego’s many beaches, Kevin is writing for Impulsive Wanderlust, a travel and leisure website he founded.