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Tapping into the U.S. market from up north

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 01-28-16 at 2:53 p.m.

Although Canada and the U.S. are neighbouring countries and are the most important trading partners in the world, they are nonetheless quite different in terms of consumer values. Any player from “The Great White North” seeking to make an imprint or build upon one in the “Home of the Brave” must be aware of U.S. consumer differences so as to adapt its offer and brand promise.

With its unique Panorama program, CROP offers its clients an in-depth look at the ways in which U.S. consumers differ from their Canuck counterparts.

Moving on up, in the center of the storm, eyes on the prize

The generalized perception that Americans give considerably more weight than Canadians to moving as high as possible up the social ladder and earning the lifestyle that should come with it is strongly justified when we compare how Americans and Canadians define the life principles that are important to them. Americans not only engage in the quintessential “keeping up with the Joneses” phenomenon – they aspire to surpass the Joneses. Concepts like Ostentatious Consumption, Need for Personal Achievement and Concern for Appearance resonate significantly more strongly south of the border with, for example, 36% of Americans considering it important that people admire the things they own compared to only 21% of Canadians. U.S. residents are also considerably more willing to go all out in order to move up: proportionally, twice as many Americans (56%) as Canadians (29%) say they are prepared to take big risks in life to achieve their goals.

At the same time, life in America is seen as eventful, unexpected, even sometimes in turmoil. Americans view the world as filled with uncertainty and in a state of perpetual change. That said, Americans feel they can adapt to anything – if properly equipped to face it.

As one of the fundamental characteristics of the psyche of our southern neighbours is to strive to succeed under challenging conditions, brands promising to provide consumers with levers to climb up the social ladder, to adapt to uncertainty, and to attain an enviable social status are bound to play well to the American ethos.

Corporate culture, consumption, and conservatism as dominating drivers

Predictably, Americans also show greater confidence in business and place more value on corporate success than Canadians do. The United States prides itself on being a business-friendly environment – putting the priority on wealth creation, with social and/or ecological issues sometimes coming second. For example, while a meager 19% of Canadians are willing to accept higher degrees of pollution to preserve people’s jobs, close to a third of Americans (32%) share this view. Although consumer expectations are growing when it comes to social responsibility, the United States remains fertile ground to flaunt a brand’s background and/or its “success story” rather than making its social responsibility actions spearhead its marketing strategy.

Our results also clearly support the belief that America is the land of consumption: Americans essentially invented the consumer society, and it is deeply ingrained in their values and attitudes. When compared to Canada, concepts like Joy of Consumption, Importance of Brands and Pursuit of Novelty, are through the roof in the United States. Americans place an extremely high premium on shopping, innovation and gadgets, and associate them with greater social status and personal success. A much higher percentage of U.S. residents (55%) than Canadian residents (32%) state that they like being immediately informed about new products and services so that they can use them. An even larger proportion of Americans (60%) also state that buying themselves something is one of their greatest pleasures in life, compared to 42% of Canadians. To come out a winner in this territory, brands should therefore not skimp on marketing and innovation efforts in order to give the impression that they are continually renewing and improving themselves, and, by doing so, offering new possibilities to their consumers.

One should also not neglect Americans’ more pronounced and deeply-rooted socially conservative values. They have a stricter definition of family (51% believe that getting married and having children is the only real way of having one, in contrast with 39% of Canadians), are less likely to believe in total equality of the sexes (44% think that men have a certain natural superiority over women, in contrast with 23% of Canadians), and are more likely to believe in patriarchal authority (55% agree that the father of a family must be the master in his own house, in contrast with 19% of Canadians). While diversity and openness to social change are in some respects on the rise in the U.S. (for example, the legalization of gay marriage nationwide), it remains a more conservative society overall. Brand images reflecting traditional social models tend to be, in this sense, a safer bet, generally speaking.

A tale of two countries

While they are good neighbours and long-time friends, Canada and the United States are different in many respects from a consumer values point of view. The U.S. is a country composed of achievers who:

• Aspire to be successful

• Express very strong vitality when it comes to pushing their own limits and improving themselves

• Are more supportive of a corporate/consumer/advertising lifestyle, and place less stock in ecological considerations and/or social causes

• Remain more socially conservative than Canadians

To hit their hot buttons, brands should:

• Be stimulating

• Celebrate successful people

• Help consumers face life’s challenges and welcome its opportunities

• All the while favouring more traditional social representations

While this text gives a general overview of the U.S. market, keep in mind that regional differences are extremely marked and each target segment has its unique mindset that our Panorama program can help you interpret.


The political climate in Quebec, January 2016

Categories: CROP in the news

Posted on 01-28-16 at 1:50 p.m.

Early 2016: Quebecers are in a better mood

The Liberals’ rise to power at the federal level has had a very positive effect on the mood of Quebecers; it’s being received as a real breath of fresh air. Since the Liberal Party was elected, nearly the majority of Quebecers feel that Quebec is going in the right direction.

The Quebec Liberal Party in good form

This sunny attitude is reflected in provincial politics, as a happy population is less likely to want a change of government and signs regarding the QLP are quite favourable. Two years from the next election, the most important indicator is the satisfaction rate with the provincial government, which is very close to 40% -- a comfortable margin for the Liberals. After a difficult 2015, a year of budget cuts and negotiations with its employees, the QLP is kicking off the year supported by its electoral base.

The PQ is slipping

As for the official opposition, it has lost 8 points in the past two months and is currently at its lowest rating since Pierre-Karl Péladeau’s debut as party leader. Moreover, note that data collection was conducted before the nightmarish last few weeks that the leader of this party has experienced. In the last few days, Mr. Péladeau has been unable to exercise his position as leader of the opposition, as he is entangled in defending his other roles, that is, either his role as controlling shareholder of Quebecor or his role as a celebrity who broadcasts his private life and is suffering setbacks in his love life.

The PQ’s descent benefits the CAQ and Québec Solidaire.

At the federal level: The Liberals are sky-high

Figures for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are stratospheric. Two out of three Quebecers feel that they are doing a good job and they have the support of half of Quebecers when it comes to voting intentions.

The NDP has an electoral base of 20%, which means it has the support to rebuild when the honeymoon is over for the Liberals.

However, at 11%, the Bloc Québécois has returned to the margins following Gilles Duceppe’s departure.

Click here to see study results in detail (French only)


List of winning participants to the Panorama 2015 study


Posted on 12-11-14 at 11:42 a.m.

Thank you for participating to this year’s Panorama study on the purchasing habits and the values of Canadians.

Our most sincere congratulations go out to this year’s winners:

Grand prize of $1,500: Monique Rochon

$500 cash prizes: Tony Klokocka
Lilia Kusiak
Patti Smith

$100 cash prizes: Mylène Robert
Jane Pollock
Bev Goodman
Shawn Boulet
Eileen Goertz
William Charles Goucher
Jean Broumwell
Benoît Kuang
Nicole England
Leana Seamans


Winners will be notified by phone and by email within two (2) business days following the date of the draw and the prizes will be directly mailed to the home addresses that were indicated to CROP.

Thank you again for your valuable contribution to our study.

Best wishes for 2015 from CROP!


List of winning participants to the Panorama study


Posted on 01-06-14 at 4:35 p.m.

CROP is announcing the list of winners from those who participated in the pan-Canadian survey on values and habits! The winner of $10,000 in cash is Marilyn Bowman.

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to all participants!

1. Marilyn Bowman (10 000 $ in cash)

2. Sophie Filiatrault (16GB iPhone 5C valued at $600)

3. Manon Hamelin (16GB iPad with Retina screen valued at $501)

4. Martine Cormier (GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition camera valued at $450)

5. Annie Lacasse (PlayStation 4 console valued at $400)

6. Lorne Semke (10.1" 16GB Galaxy Tab2 tablet computer valued at $350)

7. Maryse Laliberté (16GB iPad minis valued at $330)

8. Stéphane Drouin (16GB iPad minis valued at $330)

9. Ed Hoellwarth (Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Over-Ear Headphones valued at $330)

10. Paul Pettigrew (Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Over-Ear Headphones valued at $330)

11. Barbe Deguire (32 GB 5th generation iPod Touch valued at $300)

CROP will contact all winners in the next few days.



Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 12-06-13 at 10 a.m.

Image for Differentiation

Of all the aspects involved in marketing, the most challenging must certainly be differentiation. From in here, as for you out there, it can often seem that brands in some categories are All. The. Same.


Take the pickup truck ad - and we do mean The Ad - because there only seems to be one version. Cue the narrator's leather saddle of a voice, deeply intoning "If you're a big hombre who needs to move big stuff, then you need brand model xyz," followed by the proof point (big engine, big this, bigger that). Check 'em out, cowboy:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwC1D8s_-vU (Dodge)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ngOek2J65s (Chevy)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDuOp3Uff9Q (Ford)


How does a guy get a voice that leathery?


And beer ads? Pretty much the same story. To look at these, you'd think beer brands have one supreme purpose: magically transport the, uh, customer to a sex/fun/party wonderland:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLOfH-WzMsk (Bud Light Platinum)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsqXh9n0rew (Coors Light)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Qy20CksdQk (Budweiser)


Bikinis, cheerleaders and flamethrowers optional. Just kidding: they're mandatory.


Did you know you can do a lot of stuff with an iPhone? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evhr2ObJXsM


And how about with a Blackberry? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxpPXHvykHk


Notice the tagline: Built to keep you moving.


Meaning: you are very very busy and this brand will help you explore every possibility available to you because...yes. It does a lot of stuff.


Differentiating your brand is not about the tone of communication or cultural references. You have Justin Timberlake, I have Beyoncé. That is not differentiation. That is tomayto-tomahto.


In order to differentiate itself, a brand needs to tap into different consumer insights and plumb different consumer needs. Sex/Fun/Party in a rock bar and S/F/P in a pool in Miami obviously just address the same core needs, with different party wear.


Think of the way beauty products constantly tap into such modern consumer desires such as the "importance of physical beauty," "concern for appearance" and "status." Basically, brands help their consumers exist where it counts, in the eyes of others. Axe has slashed its way to the top of the heap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nszb0LE2Ngw


But one brand zagged where the others zigged. Dove went in the opposite direction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE


Dove was inspired by more deeply-sourced insights. They heard the silent voices: "I'm a woman, and have a negative body image, but I want to love myself as others around me do." This insight taps into the need for personal development. More specifically, Dove hit emotional touchpoints like "introspection and empathy" and "social learning." The brand has an intimate role, and one that breeds loyalty: to help you be beautiful in your own eyes.


The ad may touch you, or it may not. You may watch it sobbing over a box of your favourite tissues, or you may find it condescending.  Regardless, this is a strong example of true differentiation in brand positioning.


And for that, much love to Dove.