O Canada

Know Thy Neighbor

Where to start? Visit Canada yourself. You can also study Canadian media for popular products and marketing approaches or do research via the Internet.

According to Kathleen Keim, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Information Center, some market insights should help you. For example:

  • Trends get to Canada a little later. If something's hot in the United States today, it may not be hot in Canada for another six months.
  • Because Canada is bilingual, most imported products must include information in English and French. If you have a Web site, offer a French (Quebecois) version and include a Canadian suffix (.ca) to emphasize your company's Canadian focus.
  • Canadians often have less disposable income than U.S. consumers, because taxes are higher. Consequently, Canadians are interested in products that offer exceptional quality at a good price.
  • Because Canada has a considerably smaller population than the United States (less than 30 million), Canadian retailers may be more selective about the products they carry.
  • Canada offers a burgeoning market for mail order and e-commerce, as Canadians purchase more products by mail per capita than U.S. consumers, and will spend $7.8 billion online annually by 2003, according to experts.
  • Canadians tend to dislike excessive promotion. Skip the hype and focus on facts, and avoid making negative comparisons between Canadian products and your own.

For more Canadian resources, go to http://www.entrepreneur.com/entrepreneur.hts, click on "Biz Smarts," and then click on "Global."

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This article was originally published in the March 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: O Canada.

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