For years Canadian PR practitioners have been telling American companies that despite many similarities with the Canadian marketplace, and particularly Canadian consumers, there are many subtle and not so subtle differences with their American counterparts. It requires a particular sensibility to these variables to be successful here. And generally American companies need Canadian guides to help them navigate the terrain. It isn’t that their American agencies couldn’t help them, but the simple truth is that the very size of the US market makes them generally insensitive to the nuances here. This is generally not true for Canadians operating in the US. In many respects we have come to understand ourselves through these distinctions, so we are just more attuned to regional divergence both here and in the US.
These differences have never been more clear that during the recent pandemic. Generally for Americans, civil liberty and individual rights have ruled. Canadians were much readier to make the compromises necessary for the collective good – isolating, cancelling big family celebrations and wearing masks when out in public. The economic recovery from this disruption is going to require massive effort. During the last administration, the US made a lot of noise about “America First.” Most pundits agree that while Mr. Biden may speak in a friendlier tone, he is not likely to make major policy shifts in “Buy American” rhetoric. Canada too will be looking to re-energize market opportunities for local companies hit hard by the pandemic – particularly small retailers and restaurants. Canadian companies made big strides to improve their products and services during the last big invasion of American retail chains. They did it by stepping up – and that is what is required now more than ever. Small businesses will need to pivot and ensure that they stay viable in the short term and are ready to seize the moment when the recovery comes. Larry Rosen put it best a number of years ago when he said: “We’re experts on Canada.” He went on to explain that “local habits can trip up retailers less schooled in Canadianisms.” Canadian companies need to capitalize on their local knowledge now more than ever in order to drive the recovery.
Over the years, we have worked with a number of European clients and most of them get that there is a lot they don’t know about Canada and they are open to support and advice. By contrast, all too often Americans coming up against these differences are derisory or even dismissive. This isn’t always the case, but it has confounded more than one US giant on its first foray into Canada.
Here at Jesson we have successfully leveraged our understanding of Canada’s regional variances to support both international and national clients. It’s part of what has helped make us a leading independent agency with a large roster of international clients. As companies look to recovery, we are here with winning strategies that can help put your business back on top.