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Alain Giguère

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Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 01-29-16 at 9:56 a.m.

As society is constantly changing, we have witnessed many changes in people’s practices and hobbies over the years, and camping and outdoor activities are no exception to this.

In the 70s and 80s, the activity was actually quite minimalist: a nylon or cotton non-waterproof tent, a rudimentary sleeping bag, a Coleman stove and that was it. This was enough to satisfy the need for authenticity and going back to basics for most practitioners.

Later, in the 90s and 00s, outdoor activities benefitted from innovation and technological change. Equipment that was previously limited to adventurers who climb the Himalayas was democratized and became accessible to the Sunday hiker. From a simple activity, enjoying the great outdoors evolved into a complex and specialized undertaking. Nowadays, enthusiasts seek self-improvement, performance. Just as a bike ride is now performed in cycling shorts and a jersey covered in sponsors’ logos, a hike in the forest now requires quick-dry pants, even in nice weather.

Today, the trend is towards "glamping": a portmanteau that combines glamour and camping. Glamping consists of accommodation in unusual facilities (utopia tent, yurt, cabin, Airstream trailer, covered wagon, treehouse, caravan, tipi, or a suspended tree tent). The type of accommodations must stand out by how comfortable it is, its design, and where it is located.

Why is this trend appearing today?

The analysis of sociocultural values in our Panorama program provides us with a possible answer.

Outdoor activity enthusiasts are firstly attracted by luxury and brands that offer added value, while also enjoying local brands and products that combine craftsmanship with authenticity. They try to adopt a greener lifestyle and resist consumer society, and besides the fact that they practice outdoor activities, they have little need for escape.

Glamping reconciles two dimensions that can, in principle, be opposed in many ways. It offers luxury and comfort, but in a context that is natural and conducive to getting back to one’s "roots": exactly what these consumers want.

This consumer niche holds opportunities for different brands, including those operating in the field of outdoor equipment by offering a brand promise with strong added value that combines comfort with nature. The "nature and performance" niche is very well-served by the North Faces of this world, but few are positioned in the comfort-chic niche. There is also an opportunity here for food manufacturers and distributors: Why not offer a gourmet dining experience that can easily be prepared in the woods? If it is also environmentally friendly, there is definitely a market opportunity here.

Consumers often have behaviours that may seem inconsistent or contradictory and only an analysis of their sociocultural values can make sense of them.


Innovations: To each their own reasons to adopt

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 01-29-16 at 9:29 a.m.

It is no secret that we live in a time when innovations are appearing at an accelerated pace. This proliferation of new things on the market is causing marketing teams to increase their efforts and ingenuity to attract consumers to their new offers. However, all consumers do not adopt innovations at the same pace, nor for the same reasons.

To better understand some of the underlying motivations for the adoption of new products or services by consumers, we used our Panorama program (measuring changes in people’s values via an annual survey of more than 2,000 Canadian consumers) to recreate the segmentation developed in the 1960s by sociologist Everett Rogers in his Diffusion of Innovations model. This segmentation distributes the population into five groups of consumers according to how quickly they adopt innovations offered by the market.

Beyond the size of segments obtained, which is very similar to Rogers’ initial distribution, the value of the exercise lies in the identification of the state of mind of each of these types of consumers, that is, understanding the values and needs that are important to them and that should be expressed in messages intended for them. Not surprisingly, each of these segments has values and a vision of life that are quite different;  the tone and content of messages addressed to them when touting the benefits of an innovation must therefore evolve as an innovation is diffused in the market and they become the next target.

"Innovators" are individuals who are constantly looking to improve their lives, who are very focused on creativity and realizing their personal potential. To flourish, they need to feel they are getting ahead, that they are progressing in their lives and taking advantage of all the new opportunities available to them. Innovation is a stimulating challenge for them in the sense that they see it as a way to reinvent themselves and reinvent the way they do things in life, for the better. It acts as a springboard that propels them forward by helping push the limits of what is possible, for themselves and for society in general. These individuals are also animated by a strong sense of social idealism. Innovation as a driver of improvement for oneself, others, and the planet as a whole.

"Early adopters" share many values with "innovators", particularly the desire to improve and expand the boundaries of what is possible. Their social idealism is however less marked, as this segment is more rooted in a culture of proximity, valuing connections with relatives and the total fulfillment of the family unit. Innovation as driver of wellness and sharing with those who are dear to them.

Consumers who compose the "early majority" are primarily motivated by acquiring a status likely to be valued by others. They like to shine, to be admired by those around them; consumption reassures and stimulates them in the sense that it gives them the feeling of belonging to the privileged class (or, at least, getting closer to it). Innovation as a way to feel that one is someone, to build a social identity.

The last two segments, the "late majority" and "laggards", tend to feel threatened by innovation, which they perceive as a vector of isolation and further social exclusion. These two segments, especially the laggards, are reluctant to change their habits and feel a little at the mercy of external events. However, laggards are more withdrawn than the late majority, who strongly value commitment in their immediate community. These are also segments that consume on a practical basis. An innovation must therefore meet a very concrete need and integrate easily into their daily lives if they are to be interested. Innovation as a way to have some control over life, and, for the laggards, as a vector of community involvement.

According to the segment that we wish to sell an innovation to, it will thus benefit from being associated with:

• The new possibilities being offered to consumers (innovators)

• A notion of well-being or of closeness between people (early adopters)

• A notion of personal improvement (early majority)

• More down-to-earth benefits and increased control over one’s life (late majority and laggards)

Of course, these are large axes of values that distinguish large segments of the market, which would benefit by being refined by a better understanding of a product’s specific target. Our Panorama program is a valuable ally in this endeavour. Nevertheless, by way of illustration, here are some examples of commercials that target the heartstrings of the segments that are quickest to adopt innovations, especially the desire to push the limits and connect with loved ones.

1) Defining Innovation – BMW

2) Empowering – Microsoft

3) Man vs. Cheetah – Sketchers Gorun 2

4) Reunion – Google Search (Note: wonderful but lasts 3 ½ minutes)

5) Dear Sophie – Google Chrome


Canada as a “distinct” society and market

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 01-28-16 at 4:36 p.m.

There can sometimes be a perception – conscious or not – that the United States sees Canada as little more than its natural, northern (and colder) extension. However, Canadians have a long history of claiming their independence and distinctiveness from their southern neighbours, and our Panorama survey shows that very real differences exist and subsist between the two largest trading partners in the world. Any American player seeking to make an imprint or build upon one in Canada will start at a significant advantage over its competitors if it is aware of the characteristics that make the “Great White North” a truly distinct society in the North American landscape.

People-centric, socially conscious

Embracing people’s uniqueness and diversity – as well as learning from it – is an integral part of Canadian identity. Canadians score considerably higher than their neighbours to the south in assigning value to concepts like Equality of the Sexes, Flexible Definition of Family, Flexibility of Sexual Identity, and Openness toward Others, expressing a desire to distance themselves from social models and molds to validate individual particularities that they perceive as a source of social richness and personal fulfillment. When possible, those seeking to win over the Canadian marketplace should therefore be not only willing, but eager to display receptiveness to difference and to offer goods and brand images that play well to demands for personalization and customization.

Consistent with a more humane, people-oriented mindset, Canadians are more apt than Americans to want to help others and tend to be more sensitive to issues affecting the world around them – be it in terms of their community or the environment. Concepts like Primacy of Environmental Protection, Ethical Consumerism and Mutual Aid resonate significantly more strongly north of the border. For instance, whereas only 29% of Americans “totally agree” that they should help people around them even if they don’t know them well, close to half (44%) of Canadians do. And while close to a third (32%) of Americans are willing to accept higher degrees of pollution to preserve people’s jobs, only a meager 19% of Canadians share this view. In this sense, social and ecological sustainability play an important part in Canadians’ choices of brands and products.

Feeling in control – and eager to keep this feeling

Despite market forces and the unpredictability of life today, Canadians have the impression that they can stay on top of things. A significantly smaller proportion of Canadians (45%) than Americans (56%) agree with the idea that they have a hard time changing the course of events affecting them. But despite this feeling of control, Canadians are less comfortable that Americans with uncertainty and risk-taking, being almost twice as less inclined to take risks in life than their American counterparts. In this sense, comforting brands and comforting brand promises are especially welcome by Canadian consumers, as well as promises of empowerment.

More to the point, as a direct by-product of this pronounced sense of cautiousness, Canadians are also more financially prudent and pragmatic from a consumption standpoint in comparison with Americans; price is a more important factor for them in their purchasing decisions, whereas a product’s brand is less so. A total of 43% of Canadians totally or somewhat agree that when they buy a product, the brand is very important to them, a proportion that goes up to 58% across the border. They do not engage in “buying for buying’s sake” to the same extent that Americans do and they are more wary of marketing and advertising; only 12% of Canadians believe that if a product is widely advertised, it is very likely that it will be a good product, while 39% of Americans share this opinion.

Therefore, Canadians are more likely to consider any offer as a commodity and to be attracted by the best price. To make itself known, a brand therefore has every interest in having a somewhat aggressive pricing strategy or, if inclined to charge a high price, one has to be quite convincing about the concrete value being offered in return.

A tale of two countries

From a consumer values point of view, Canadians stand apart from their southern neighbours by:

• Being more focused on themselves as people, on their uniqueness, with less of a need to fit into the social mold

• Putting more stock in equality, ecological and ethical matters

• Feeling more empowered, in greater control of their lives, which they want to maintain

• Being more cautious in terms of consumption, more inclined toward utility, and less preoccupied by consuming for the sake of pleasure or status

Brands and brand promises that emphasize the following values will therefore have a better chance of being well-received in this market:

• Celebrating people’s diversity and offering a good degree of personalization

• Celebrating people

• Having a clear and honest sense of social responsibility

• Able to both comfort and empower consumers

• Bringing tangible benefits into people’s lives

• Offering good prices or clear concrete value

Any company seeking to do business with a specific segment of Canadian consumers would gain by understanding where they come from as people. In the end, it all comes down to knowing your end client. With its Panorama program, CROP is uniquely equipped and positioned to help you do so.


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)