Canada: a powerful brand

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Source: Business Development Bank of Canada

Canadians have a reputation for being a modest people. But when it comes to selling their products, entrepreneurs would do well to trumpet their made-in-Canada credentials.

A new survey conducted for BDC found that Canadians are inclined to buy locally produced goods and services, and are willing to pay a premium to get them. That’s a little-noticed trend that should have more entrepreneurs wrapping themselves—or at least their products—in the flag.

What’s more, Canadian-made products have an excellent reputation internationally, and that could give many companies the edge they need to begin exporting or to take their international efforts to the next level.

What drives customers to buy Canadian
Two key concerns appear to be pushing a buy-local mindset among Canadian consumers. The first is a desire to use their spending power to support their local economy. The second is a belief that Canadian-made products are safer and greener alternatives to imports.

The BDC survey of more than 1,000 Canadian consumers, conducted by Ipsos, indicates that 45% of respondents had made a specific effort to buy Canadian in recent months. Additionally, 24% said they had made an effort to buy goods made in their province.

More than half of respondents (55%) rated buying from local stores as a key selection factor, while 41% said buying local products was a key selection factor. These two criteria topped a list of social factors motivating buying decisions.

Taking pride in helping Canadian businesses
Canadian consumers are increasingly aware of the impact their spending has on the economy. They take pride in helping Canadian businesses create jobs and economic activity.

They also want to buy products that are safe and environmentally sustainable. In the minds of many consumers, buying Canadian fits the bill on all counts.

Food products are a good example of the trend. Increased concerns over food safety in the wake of recent contamination incidents are encouraging consumers to seek locally produced food. According to a separate Ipsos survey, 86% of Canadians consider food that comes from Canada to be safer than food from abroad, while 82% say they make an effort to buy locally grown and produced food.

Of course, many Canadian industries won’t want or be able to use made-in-Canada marketing, either because they import their offerings or they are dealing with customers who don’t see national origin as an important purchasing factor.

Canada, perceived as “a model country”
But too many businesses underestimate the power that made-in-Canada messaging can have in attracting and keeping customers. And the opportunities don’t stop at the Canada-U.S. border.

Market research indicates that Canada is perceived by foreigners as “a model country” with a clean environment and open, trustworthy people, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. They associate Canada with safe, high-quality products.

Three words—made in Canada— could help your products and services stand out from the crowd, both here and abroad. Canada is a powerful brand—let’s use it.

This article was published in BDC’s Profit$ magazine.
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