On my radar this week

Alain Giguère

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Opinion of the residents of Brossard, Saint-Bruno and Saint-Lambert regarding the agglomeration of Longueuil

Categories: CROP in the news

Posted on 03-17-17 at 4:02 p.m.

In March 2017, CROP conducted a telephone survey among 1,000 residents of the boroughs of Brossard, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Saint-Lambert about their awareness of the “On paie trop pour Longueuil” campaign. Also investigated in the survey were the residents’ perceptions of the current tax management system as well as their level of favourability toward holding a referendum with the ultimate goal of requesting the government to demerge the three boroughs from the South Shore Regional agglomeration.

For more details about this issue, click on the following hyperlinks and find out what was said in the media.

Click here for the article published in Le Courrier du Sud – La Population est derrière les maires des villes liées (available in French only)

Click here for the article published in Les Versants – Un sondage et un dernier appel au premier ministre (available in French only)

Click here for the press release – Brossard, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville et Saint-Lambert se préparent à sortir de l’agglomération de Longueuil (available in French only)

Click on this video excerpt from CTV News – South Shore mayors want out of agglomeration (available in English only)

Canadians, Populism and Xenophobia

Categories: CROP in the news

Posted on 03-14-17 at 11:52 a.m.

A web-based study was conducted by CROP in January and February 2017 to inquire about Canadians’ views on various issues related to the subjects of populism and xenophobia. To see some of the results and understand the different perceptions, click on the following hyperlinks and find out what was said in the media.

Click here for the article published on Radio-Canada.ca – Prêt pour un Trump canadien? (available in French only)

Click here for the article published on Radio-Canada.ca – Une majorité de Canadiens exprime des craintes face à l'immigration (available in French only)

Click here for the article published on CBC.ca – Canadians divided when it comes to immigration, poll suggests (available in English only)

26% of Canadians believe that men are superior to woman! (And the mad scene from Lucia di Lammermoor)

Categories: On my radar this week

Posted on 03-10-17 at 5:32 p.m.

Sexual equality isn't here yet!

International Women's Day on March 8 inspired me to put a survey question that has always intrigued me into perspective: "Whatever people say, men have a certain natural superiority over women, and nothing can change this." One in four Canadians (26%) agree with this statement. Almost one in three people in Québec (31%) agree with this statement, the province with the highest level of agreement, while the Atlantic region has the lowest level of agreement (at 20%).

What I find most curious is that young people, the Millennials, are the most in agreement with this statement (32%, or one in three). Could this be this due to the influence of Hollywood? Immigrants (people born outside Canada) and technical and blue-collar workers also stand out in being particularly in agreement with this statement.

Over the many years that we have been following the results of this question, the proportions have remained virtually unchanged (23% of the country in 2000), suggesting an entrenched background sentiment of male superiority.

We should also point out that very similar proportions of women agree with this statement (24%), leading us to conclude that Tarzan will have no trouble finding his Jane here!

Superiority or difference? The values and hot buttons underlying this view

It has already been pointed out that to any chauvinist interpretation of the results of this question, you can object that men's physical strength confers a "certain superiority" (men and women compete separately in the Olympics, for example). Others who share a feminist or less chauvinistic point of view consider physical strength more of a difference than a proof of superiority. In an increasingly knowledge-based economy and even in traditionally male jobs, women are performing as well as their male colleagues.

Click here for detailed results

Most telling in this debate is the value profile of the individuals who agree with the above-mentioned statement: they could not be more conservative.

They also express great difficulty living in today's world: they feel they have little control over their lives; they have trouble living with the change and complexity of life today. For them, society no longer has guideposts, standards, morality; people's roles have become unstructured. Women's emancipation beyond their traditional roles is proof positive for them that our society is losing its way!

Status is also an issue, along with a great deal of social-psychological nostalgia-for an era where men played the dominate roles and had the highest status in society. These individuals still crave an enviable social status, which underlies their interest in traditional roles where men and woman have clearly defined functions (corresponding to antiquated stereotypes).

We also find a significant proportion of immigrants among the people in agreement with this statement. Immigrants often come from societies espousing more traditional values and that continue to impose highly predetermined roles on men and women.

In short, we can conclude that those in agreement with this question truly see the statement as expressing the social superiority of men versus women, in the traditional, stereotypical roles they believe in!

The opportunities for businesses and organisations

I do not pretend to have the solution to the problem of sexual equality in our society; others have taken up that banner. However, given my strong concern for corporate responsibility (I sincerely believe that companies need to take this on), I see this issue as providing some very promising avenues.

All companies and organisations are founded on values. In 2017, I'm sure Justin Trudeau would agree that equality and equal opportunity must inform the fundamental values of every organization, and that concrete practices must be put in place to ensure that this value is incorporated into organizational cultures. In companies with technical jobs, and with young and immigrant employees, in particular, promoting an organizational culture based on sexual equality would surely help the situation evolve-especially since the results of our question have barely moved in 20 years.

For brands, too, promoting sexual equality can only be beneficial in today's marketplace. One example is the delightful ad run by Audi during the last Super Bowl (http://www.superbowlcommercials.co/audi/), surely one of the least feminist media placement venues around. The ad highlights the company's commitment to equal pay for equal work: "Progress is for everyone."

Click here to consult values profile

The mad scene in the opera, Lucia di Lammermoor

To illustrate just how far women have come over the centuries, I have chosen a clip from the opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, by Gaetano Donizetti. Italian opera in the 19th century usually depicted women as hysterical, neurotic and unstable. In this excerpt, Lucia has effectively lost her mind! Her brother has forced her to marry a "good catch" to raise the family's social standing. The evening of the wedding, Lucia, in a deranged state of madness, kills her new husband and sings her joy at soon being reunited with her former lover! Known as the "mad scene," it is a melodic jewel.

Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor / Netrebko, Beczala, Kwiecien, The Metropolitan Opera, New York, 2009, Deutsche Grammophon.

RRSP or no RRSP, that is the question!

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 03-09-17 at 8:15 p.m.

With the dreaded tax season just around the corner, CROP thought it quite fitting in February to ask Quebec workers about their attitudes and perceptions with regard to their retirement. Here’s what we learned:

Contributing to a pension plan…
a matter of generation

On the whole, more than one in every two Quebec workers have access to a pension fund through their employer and surprisingly, it is older workers who have less of an opportunity to contribute to an RRSP through work.

For the 2016 fiscal year, the 35-54 year-old cohort were more assiduous in securing their retirement by contributing to their RRSP (47% before February) or by intending to do so before March 1st, while one in two workers aged 55 or more have no intention this year to put money into a pension plan.

It seems as if 55+ year-olds are, on the whole, less inclined today toward retirement planning, maybe it’s because they’ve already done so and no longer need to worry about it?

A majority of Quebec workers are optimistic about their financial situation at retirement

Our survey results reveal that men are the most optimistic about their financial circumstances when comes the time for them to retire.

Obviously enough, workers who currently contribute to an RRSP are, on the whole, more confident about a financially secure retirement than those who do not.

All the more reason to keep up with those RRSP payments!

Does your employer offer you the option to contribute to a pension plan?

(click on the image to enlarge)

Have you contributed or do you plan to contribute to an RRSP by March 1st, 2017?

(click on the image to enlarge)

When you consider your financial situation at your retirement, would you say that your outlook is…?

(click on the image to enlarge)

45% of Canadians consider consumption one of life’s greatest pleasures! (Plus “The Jewel Song” sung by Bianca Castafiore)

Categories: On my radar this week

Posted on 03-03-17 at 1:17 p.m.

Consumption as a unique source of gratification!

Whether it's a new 4K TV, a designer handbag or pair of shoes, the newest smartphone on the market, or something as simple as the latest recording by a popular artist or a great bottle of wine-whatever the purchase, when you dig a little deeper into people's psyche, you find that they get a significant amount of gratification from the experience (to various degrees, of course).

What's more, the marketplace constantly-and at an increasingly frenetic pace-floods us with new offers, innovations and gadgets, improved products, new services, new designs, all promising us a new experience, etc. In short, a continual bombardment of stimulation.

The consumer marketplace is proving to be tremendously resilient. Given the continuing rise in consumer debt, strict economic logic would dictate a weakening in household consumption (given the aging population, fairly flat income growth and rising debt levels, etc.). But no, the marketplace is holding its own; retail sales (including all forms of distributions) are not doing too badly at all.

It is precisely because other factors (beyond simple economics) are at work that the consumption of goods and services is so robust: consumer values, consumer motivations and hot button are playing a leading role.

The joy of consumption-one of the most influential consumer motivations

Beyond the strictly utilitarian function of consumption, a strong desire for gratification is motivating the purchase and use of goods and services. One of our studies found that 45% of Canadians agree with the notion that spending, buying themselves something new, is one of life's greatest pleasures! That's almost one in every two consumers in the country!

The Province of Québec, with its legendary joie de vivre, ranks in first place with 52%, while Alberta comes in last with 35%. Millennials (18 to 34 years of age) have the highest proportion of enthusiastic consumers (54%).

Underlying this enthusiastic desire to consume is an impressive cocktail of values and hot buttons. While they can vary by product category, some are universal, particularly the need for status experiences ("Because you're worth it," says L'Oréal). The product, the service, the brand and the experience serve to enhance the self-worth of the person buying it, owning it, "wearing" it. This is what is really underlies today's enthusiasm for consumption. People want to prove to themselves and to others that they are indeed "worth it." Their identity is predicated on these products, services and brands; they feel that others see them as more important because of these products/brands. And since new products are always arriving, they have to constantly keep up with their acquisitions to maintain their status.

Click here for detailed results

Another motivator is undoubtedly the "game" aspect, particularly with technology. People are looking for playful devices, interfaces and experiences. They want to transform the smallest daily ritual into a game, an entertainment opportunity ("gamification").

Social and ecological responsibility is also becoming a key purchasing criterion for consumers (at comparable value and price points).

Finally, several other hot buttons motivate consumption but they tend to be associated with specific product categories, so I will not discuss them here.

Branding opportunities

First and most importantly, you need to incorporate status into the brand experience: privileges, prestige and other experiential elements that make consumers feel proud to associate themselves with the brand, to "wear" it, to associate their personal identity with it and project it to others. Loyalty programs, when properly designed, can play an important role here by offering unique privileges based on customer loyalty. The more prestige you can associate with the brand experience, the more you are playing to this consumer hot button.

The challenge is also to make it fun, playful. Every brand has the possibility of becoming a "media" so think about entertaining while informing. The interfaces and technology that frame the brand experience must be playful and fun.

Finally, the brand as well as the company it represents must be socially and ecologically responsible. These criteria must be part of the brand promise.

Click here to consult values profile

"The Jewel Song" from Gounod's Faust

One of the most beautiful operatic examples of enhancing a person's image through the products she "wears" is "The Jewel Song" (L'Air des bijoux) from the opera Faust, by French composer Charles-François Gounod. Anyone familiar with The Adventures of Tintin from their youth will recognize it as the aria sung by the diva Bianca Castafiore in The Calculus Affair (L'Affaire Tournesol), which so annoyed Captain Haddock. The words could not be more evocative: "Ah! I laugh to see myself so beautiful in this mirror. Is it you, Marguerite? ... No! it's no longer you! ... It's the daughter of a king ..."

We all dream-don't we?-that what we buy will make us look like the daughter or son of a king!

Faust, Charles Gounod: Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape, Marina Poplavskaya, Orchestra & Chorus of The Metropolitan Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, New York, 2014, Decca.