While going through a pile of articles I had printed out a few years ago in case I could use them in the future, I came across a Globe and Mail article that mentioned a study commissioned by Headspace Marketing, a Toronto-based marketing company. It described a survey conducted among 1000 Quebec women to determine how effectively 12 retail brands (e.g. Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire) met their needs and expectations. The survey itself indicated that some brands, like Starbucks, which made an effort to market directly to Quebecers by adapting to their needs (e.g. changing the brand name, introducing products specifically for the Quebec market) actually scored the lowest with respondents, while other brands, such as Tim Hortons, which offer the same products throughout Canada and did not change their name for the Quebec market scored the highest.
I was intrigued by this study, because its results apply not just to marketing, but to localization as well. It demonstrates that when targeting a specific locale, adaptation is not always necessary, which may explain why many global brands have not adapted their websites specifically for the Quebec market: in my last research project on localized websites, I looked at the websites of twenty-five of the largest global brands (e.g. Google, Microsoft, Pampers, Intel, Apple) and found that none of them specifically targeted Quebec: instead, they targeted English and/or French Canada. And for the most part, the English and French versions of the Canadian websites were identical in form (same images, similar content, identical layouts). My PowerPoint presentation is here if you want to see more of my findings.
Strauss, Marina. (2005, September 27). “The secret to gaining success in Quebec.” The Globe and Mail, B4.