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Why are there so many festivals in Quebec and how can we benefit from them?

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 01-07-11 at 3:29 p.m.

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If someone wanted to devote themselves to attending a festival in Quebec every weekend, it would take them five years or more to attend all of them. There are more than 250 festivals in Quebec (or even more according to the source we consulted). Why are there so many festivals? Why do Quebecers attend so many? What opportunities does this represent for brands?

We have heard about Quebecers’ legendary joie de vivre that is often mentioned to explain this passion for festivals. We are hedonists. We love to party, we love to laugh, sing and dance. But that’s not all. As part of CROP’s Panorama (3SC) program, we have identified the personal values of people who attend some of the big festivals in Quebec and have realized that Quebecers’ legendary hedonism is not the only factor in motivating Quebecers to attend festivals.

Going to a festival also fills the need to be around other people, to share emotions with others. In Europe, people go out in the streets or to cafés, while in Quebec people go to festivals. It’s a natural desire to communicate, to be in contact with others, to be immersed in a crowd. Quebecers who attend festivals take immense pleasure in finding themselves among hundreds of thousands of other people in festive environments (we have only to think of the big shows on the Plaines d’Abraham in Quebec City during their Summer Festival or the Place des Festivals in Montreal during the Jazz Festival).

Festival-goers are also very open-minded. Going to a festival is an opportunity for discovery; it fosters opening one’s heart and mind to new things, to originality and cultural diversity. It’s an opportunity to share experiences with others, talk to others, get out of isolation and have new experiences. Festival-goers consider themselves citizens of the world and going to a festival is a way of being connected to what’s going on in the rest of the world.
However, Quebecers who attend festivals are critical people who do not easily trust big corporations, thereby making it necessary for sponsors to make concrete gestures that improve the festival-goers’ experience. Their mere presence does not guarantee success. For the same reason, overly commercial operations that are too intrusive should be avoided, as they may provoke the opposite of the desired effect.


Quebecers love their festivals and attend in large numbers. The many surveys we have conducted among people who have attended festivals such as the Just for Laughs Festival, the Jazz Festival, the St-Tite Western Festival, Divers/Cité etc. all show very high levels of satisfaction and loyalty. Attendees enjoyed their experiences and the majority said that they will go again.

In terms of marketing, this represents a wonderful opportunity for brands to take advantage of this situation to, among other things, reinforce their popularity. For a brand seeking to maintain or improve its image, its popularity, nothing could be more effective than being associated with a festival and contributing to festival-goers’ experiences. However, as festivals are generally places to have fun and discover new things, brands must respect this fact. They must not be overly serious or try to sell things or display their products to no end. They must not be overly intrusive or bother festival-goers by being too persistent. They should respect the festival atmosphere and not try solely to build brand awareness. Research shows us that operating in a discrete and integrated manner can be more beneficial in terms of improved image and popularity than operations that are overly aggressive and intrusive that will only serve to make the company more well-known. After all, Quebecers go to festivals to have fun and discover more about the world. Let us respect them.

Of course, not all festivals match with all brands. One should choose a festival that matches the target markets and values of the brand, according to the brand promise and the short and medium-term marketing objectives (being well aware that sponsorship is a long-term investment). A product designed for mass consumption should naturally be associated with a popular, large-scale festival, while a more specifically targeted product would benefit more from associating with a more specifically targeted event, which of course, would attract a smaller audience…

In the end, there are no hard and fast rules and only a deep, detailed and thoughtful analysis of your needs and objectives with regards to the available events will allow you to make the right choice. After all, sponsoring a festival generally entails a more or less long-term relationship (3, 4, 5 years). Make the right choice… and enjoy the festival!