Speakers: Canadians Are Cautious -- But Loyal

Share this content:
NEW YORK -- If you want to try direct marketing in Canada, there are several things you should know first: Canadians aren't all the same; they're cautious by nature; and though they like humor, just don't make fun of them.

"We're allowed to make fun of ourselves. You're not," Jim Wentzell, a direct marketing consultant born and raised in Canada, told members of the Direct Marketing Idea Exchange during a luncheon yesterday.

Wentzell spoke about marketing challenges unique to Canada with Andre Leclipteux, president and co-founder of Wings & Ink Inc., a marketing communications company based in Toronto.

For one, Canada has longer buying cycles.

"Get used to it. If you're used to six months in the U.S., expect nine months in Canada," said Wentzell, who joins Wings & Ink next month. "But Canadians are also very loyal -- and once you have them, they're yours."

However, because of that cautiousness, Canada also is nearly two years behind the United States in e-commerce. Its inhabitants also are not very big on catalog shopping.

"Don't use catalogs as an entry point," Wentzell warned. "They want to know who you are first. Once you have them from a retail outlet, you can, but don't start out with that."

Canada's mail delivery system, Canada Post, is nothing like the U.S. Postal Service, said Leclipteux, whose clients include Adobe, Xerox Retail and D&B.

Rates and discounts differ. Canada Post doesn't deliver on Saturdays. Square formats are OK to mail. Also, sizes are different because Canada follows the metric system.

"Twenty-five years ago, Americans announced that they'll switch. Well, we switched," Wentzell said as the room erupted with laughter.

Use of American words -- couch, ZIP code, freeway -- will be noticed. Canadians also have a different spelling for certain words. And if you're in Quebec, everything must appear in both English and French.

Leclipteux said to allow for at least 25 percent more space to translate a marketing message into French. Also, don't just translate the piece word for word.

If you have a call center staff, they must be able to speak French and have a Quebec accent.

Wentzell cited two things Canadians don't like: toll-free numbers that don't work in Canada and no service during U.S. holidays.

"If you're doing business in Canada, you'd better be open on American holidays," he said.

However, he added, companies who do their homework will be rewarded: "We have a high per-capita income, and we're highly educated."


Next Article in Direct Mail

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Brightcove is the world's leading video platform. The most innovative and respected brands confidently rely on Brightcove to solve their most demanding communication challenges because of the unmatched performance and flexibility of our platform, our global scale and reliability, and our award-winning service. With thousands of customers and an industry-leading suite of cloud video products, Brightcove enables customers to drive compelling business results.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above