Compared to Canadians in the RoC, Quebeckers are split in their support for the legalization of cannabis but they're significantly more likely to say they'll use it for medicinal or recreational purposes - according to the findings from the most recent survey from The Angus Reid Institute.
Canadians are apparently mad as hell at Tim Hortons. The brand is taking a beating according to recent reputation studies by Léger-National and Ipsos Canada. Commentators are claiming the brand is in trouble and has lost its connection with the Canadian public. Professor Sylvain Charlebois, in a recent Globe and Mail article, argues that Canadians have been keeping tab on how "RBI's ultimate commitment has been to its shareholders and not necessarily to the Canadian public". He adds that the dramatic drop in brand reputation confirms that the "transformation into a foreign company is now complete".
Corporate reputation, as measured by Léger, is a function of perceived financial success, CSR, honesty and transparency, quality of products and services and innovation. As one would expect, the key driver of reputation in the foodservice sector is the quality of products and services. A survey released this week by the Angus Reid Institute offers a closer look at what is going on with this driver and other key components of Tim Hortons' brand equity. It reveals that the iconic Canadian brand is, so far, healthiest in Québec.
Despite its reputational hit, Tim Hortons remains a cult brand with a strong following across Canada. Six-in-ten (62%) Canadians still regularly patronize its restaurants. Almost the same number of Quebeckers do so (57%).
The chain is viewed as an important part of Canadian culture. Seven-in-ten (70%) Canadians say that Tim Hortons plays a part when they think of Canadian culture. In Quebec, 68% says so, with a higher percentage saying it plays an "important" part.
Slightly more than one-in-two (54%) Canadians hold a favourable opinion of Tim Hortons compared to 59% in Québec where only 17% hold an unfavourable view compared to 25% nationally.
On all key measures of brand equity related to quality and service, the brand appears stronger in Québec. Compared to Canadians in the rest-of-Canada, Quebeckers are more likely to say the quality of the food and the coffee has improved or stayed the same. The same is true of their perception of the service and prices.
I don't have access to trended data on these brand metrics. There might also be troubling signs in Québec as well but having roughly 85% of the population believing the quality of your food and coffee has either improved or stayed the same should feel pretty good. There is, of course, always room for improvement. One-in-ten in Québec believe the quality of the food at Tim Hortons has worsened but the same percentage of Quebeckers believe the food quality at rival Starbucks has declined.
These regional differences can be attributed in part to the more limited media coverage of the protests we saw in English Canada over the treatment of workers after the minium wage was increased in Ontario and the very public dispute with franchisees. It could well be that it's only a matter of time before Quebeckers join the rest of Canada in believing that Tim Hortons is not the same as it was. But there are lessons to be learned from this regional difference. Lessons that could help RBI devise strategies to insulate the Tim Hortons brand in Québec.
When it entered the Quebec market, Tim Hortons was a "foreign company" from Ontario.
Back then, Dunkin Donut felt more local than Tim Hortons. The coffee and donut chain suffered greatly in Québec after Tim Hortons' arrival. It took a 13-year battle for former franchisees in Québec to win their case. The franchisees had sued the company for failing to live up to its obligation to promote the U.S. donut chain's brand in Québec as it faced growing competition from Tim Hortons. The ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada in March 2016 forced Dunkin' Brands Canada Ltd. to pay the 21 former operators of 32 locations in the province nearly $18 million, including interest and legal costs. Today, there are only three locations in Québec.
Tim Hortons did many things right to endear itself to Quebeckers. One of the earliest and most visible was its name change.
Tim Horton's became Tim Hortons. The company removed the apostrophe after signs using the apostrophe were interpreted by some to be breaking the language sign laws of the Province of Québec in 1993. The change demonstrated good corporate citizenship and was a smart business decision ensuring efficiencies by using a standard name across the chain.
Tim Hortons made significant efforts to localize its brand story for Québec.
Here's an example. Back in December 2010, Tim Hortons released its festive holiday mugs. There were two versions. The Québec mugs had the maple leaf replaced by a snowflake and the CN Tower was removed. Some will say this was unnecessary and even ridiculous. It nevertheless demonstrated Tim Hortons' concern for regional differences and its willingness to adapt its messaging accordingly.
Over the years, Tim Hortons invested in localized advertising, often going beyond the French adaptation of its English campaigns. Perhaps the most memorable example of homegrown Tim Hortons advertising in Québec was the "Minou et Pitou" campaign which focused on two characters, Minou and Pitou, using two well-known Québec actors, Patrick Labbé and Elyse Marquis, in the title roles. It's fair to say that they made the brand a household name.
A local brand experience where one feels at home.
Ten years ago, I spent two days working at a Tim Hortons restaurant in Mascouche, Québec as part of a project for the coffee chain. I got to experience first hand what it's like to work behind the counter and, more importantly, I got to observe and interview customers.
As I changed the coffee pot every twenty minutes for a fresh one, I saw proof of the chain's "Always Fresh" promise. I also witnessed how the chain was "Always Inviting". If there ever were moments of truth that made Tim Hortons a unique destination for these patrons, they were the result of the convivial atmosphere and the sense of community and place. Going to Tim Hortons, a place where people knew your name, brought these people closer to their community. What the homegrown advertising in Quebec captured was not made-up. It was experienced every day in small towns across the province. Breakfast with toasts and "cretons" (a forcemeat-style pork spread containing onions and spices) and the clever naming of products like the Timatin breakfast sandwich made Quebeckers feel even more at home.
The Tim Hortons brand might be losing share of heart in English Canada but, if it learns from its past in Québec and recommits to that market, Quebeckers will continue to reward it with their true patriot love.
"Culturally, we have a very high bar for what constitutes sexual harassment, both socially and legally. We are more tolerant of men’s improper behavior. Any woman is used to having men commenting on her physical appearance: We call them compliments (and men think of it as just being men). No woman would go to Human Resources if a male colleague were to ask about her sexual life: We call that joking."
These are the words of Simona Siri, an Italian freelance journalist who is a regular contributor to La Stampa and Vanity Fair. In this Washington Post article published last December, she argues that cultural differences explain why the #MeToo movement played out very differently in Italy. "Very few women have come forward, and men have faced few consequences. More alarming is the fact that in Italy no politician has been implicated — nor any high-profile writer, CEO, doctor, TV personality or journalist."She adds: "In Italy, the #QuellaVoltaChe movement (the equivalent of #MeToo —it means “that time that”) generated 20,000 tweets in the first week and a lot of discussion online. Then it quietly was buried among the topics that no one really wants to address."
Here's another view from Japan: "Ours is a rigidly patriarchal society, and women are rarely invited to talk about discrimination woes. The rape culture (fictional and otherwise), however, has always thrived like barnacles on an ocean liner, partly because Japanese women have taken it upon themselves to look demure and endure, endure, endure. My grandmother used to say: For a woman to survive in Japan, she must appease her menfolk in one way or another."
#MeToo might be a global movement but its manifestations are local.
A survey from the Angus Reid Institute published last week found views on workplace sexual harassment are shaped in large part by an individual’s age and gender but a closer look at the findings by region suggests that views in Québec differ from those in the rest of Canada. Like the vast majority of Canadians, Quebeckers believe there should be no forgiveness for sexual misconduct in the workplace but their definition of what’s acceptable and unacceptable behaviour differs.
Quebeckers take a stronger stand about sexual harassment yet they are more accepting of behaviours Canadians in the RoC find unacceptable.
Quebeckers, like Canadians living in the rest of Canada, believe the time has finally come to strongly denounce any form of sexual harassement. In fact, they appear even less forgiving.
Quebeckers are also significantly less likely to believe there is ambiguity about what sexual harassment is or how it’s defined.
At the same time, they are more likely to find some behaviours acceptable. For example, the Angus Reid survey found that for 30% of Quebeckers, a boss can "faire la bise" (cheek kiss an employee) while only 10% in the rest of Canada believe it's an acceptable behaviour.
French actress Catherine Deneuve got into trouble when she co-signed a letter published in Le Monde denouncing the #MeToo movement as a witch-hunt against men. The authors wrote “We defend the freedom to importune, indispensable for sexual freedom.” The reaction was swift and justified. Deneuve apologized.
“The freedom to importune.” Really? You can't defend the indefensible. There is no place for sexual harassment in the workplace or elsewhere. But where the lines are drawn varies depending on where people live. The Angus Reid survey suggests that people in Quebec, like in Italy and Japan, view and respond to the #MeToo movement through their own socio-cultural filter. That is also true for most global movements or moments.
Sometimes advertising can make a real difference in society. Public service advertising can change attitudes and behaviours over time. And sometimes a marketing and advocacy campaign can add a strong voice to a cause and the volunteers supporting it to influence a government to change its policy to improve lives in tangible ways.
Until an announcement by Québec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette in June 2017, Québec was the only province without a newborn screening program for cystic fibrosis. Early diagnosis for cystic fibrosis through newborn screening allows for immediate intervention and treatment ultimately leading to longer, healthier lives. Cystic Fibrosis Canada had been in ongoing communication with the Government of Québec since 2012 about this issue but there had been no commitment from the Government to act.
It took an integrated program combining mass media advertising, efforts to mobilize Québec's population via social media and public advocacy to finally make newborn screening of cystic fibrosis in Québec a reality. Importantly, it took a message about how Québec families were suffering in order to really engage the community and mobilize Quebeckers to demand change.
A rare disease few people know.
While there are 1,400 CF families in Québec, the disease is not well known and generally gets little attention in the media. The first step was to increase awareness of CF among the general public and, in the process, start seeding the message about the need for a newborn screening program. The very personal and moving stories of three CF families from Québec were captured via testimonial videos which were published on the organization's Facebook page.
The videos generated over 90,000 views and record levels of engagement. These videos were also edited down to :30 versions which were aired on Corus media channels such as Série+ and Historia as well as Radio-Canada - media that was graciously donated by these broadcasters. Outdoor and transit advertising featuring the beautiful faces of two young CF patients was also produced for the Montréal métro and public transit systems across the province with media donated by Bell Media and Imagi.
Over a three month period from December 2016 to February 2017, a relatively unknown disease was getting much attention. And a community of engaged CF families was increasingly determined to build on this momentum to ensure its voice was heard in Québec City by government decision-makers.
An injustice that should be corrected.
Following this general awareness phase, the focus of the communications campaign shifted to the issue of newborn screening and did so with a narrative arguing that the absence of a newborn screening program was an injustice for Québec families that caused undue harm. A fourth testimonial video was created to tell the heartbreaking story of the Jolin family, which has four children, two of whom are suffering from CF. The eldest, Coralie, was diagnosed at the age of four months. Weighing no more than a one-month-old, she was literally fighting for her life. She had to be tube-fed day and night to make up for all the damage caused by her failure to thrive. Her mother Maude put it bluntly: "If we had known from the time she was born, we could have avoided this two-year nightmare."
"Had we known, we could have avoided so much pain." This was the main message conveyed online via videos on social media, on television via Corus media channels and on mall posters across the province.
This second phase of the campaign was amplified through a carefully orchestrated media outreach program that generated significant coverage in Québec's leading publications and major newscasts. Our partners at Matom Communications secured editorial in some of the province's leading publications.
Quebec pressured to implement newborn screening for cystic fibrosis.
A microsite was created to provide all the necessary information for the media and those wishing to join the movement.
CF voices were heard in Québec City.
As the campaign evolved and the noise level continued to increase, there were signs that representatives from the Ministry of Health were paying attention.
This campaign demonstrates that real change can take place when the right stories are told through the right channels to mobilize a community. And while there is still much to do to control and eventually find a cure for this disease, this decision will make a big difference in the lives of many in Québec.
Québec will offer newborn screening for cystic fibrosis.
This was a collective effort and a victory for all of CF Canada and its volunteers. It was a privilege for Headspace Marketing to be involved in this important initiative. We wish to thank Norma Beauchamp, Jennifer Nesbesky and Yannick Brouillette for their leadership as well as their respective teams for their support and collaboration.
Fewer than two-in-five Canadians say it's safe to eat genetically modified foods, according to a new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute.
Quebec residents are more likely to say GM foods are unsafe to eat (38%) than to say they are safe (26%). All other regions are more likely to say such foods are safe than to say they’re unsafe, including majorities in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Atlantic Canadians, meanwhile, are far and away the most uncertain. Nearly half (48%) of Atlantic residents say they are “not sure.
Nearly half of Quebecers (49%) say cross-bred plants and animals should be labeled – more than say this in any other province. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Saskatchewan residents are the group most likely to choose the “none of these” option, as seen in the graph that follows.
Like so many aspects of Quebeckers’ attitudes and behaviours, their interest in genealogy is ambiguous.
Ronald Bishop wrote in the Journal of Popular Culture that “the pursuit of family history and origins tends to be shaped by several motives: the desire to carve out a place for one's family in the larger historical picture, a sense of responsibility to preserve the past for future generations, and a sense of self-satisfaction in accurate storytelling.” As a minority that has had to protect its culture and language and a society where national identity issues fuel never-ending debates, one would expect Quebeckers to be keenly involved with genealogy.
At first glance, this doesn’t appear to be the case. According to Vividata 2016 Q2 data, Québec is the province with the lowest percentage of its population actively involved with genealogy.
It’s important to note that this data is about genealogy as an activity, a pastime. Just like bird watching and stamp collecting which incidentally have the lowest participation rate in Québec.
While the data is a decade old, a survey fielded by Ipsos in 2006 for Ancestry.ca revealed that Quebeckers were essentially as interested in genealogy as Canadians in the RoC. We can assume that while the levels of interest may have changed over the last ten years, the slight regional variations likely remain the same.
Quebeckers are as interested in their family history as Canadians in the RoC but proportionally fewer take an active role in the pursuit of their family history.
It may well be that for many in Québec, their family name’s ancestry has already been well documented and it’s all they really want to know. Québec’s smaller size likely means that a significantly higher percentage of its population share the most popular family name.
The general history of the ancestors who first arrived in New France is well documented, readily accessible and, in some case, well publicized. The popular series “Le Québec - une histoire de famille” with its extensive library of family profiles and videos,its “family of the week” (e.g. The Bouchard Family) and weekly profiles in Le Journal de Montréal (below) may also have contributed to creating an impression that most family histories are readily accessible to those who only wish to know about the ancestor who was first to set foot in New France.
While many may feel they already know enough (i.e. “I don't have our family tree but I know that my ancestors arrived in 1789 and settled on l’Ile d’Orléans”), there seems to be a larger issue or barrier to overcome in Québec; a significantly higher proportion of Quebeckers than Canadians living in the RoC (almost one in two) don't think family history matters.
There is no shortage of options for anyone interested in getting or researching a family tree in Québec. This article published in Les Affaires in 2013 lists the many resources available and their cost. However, Quebeckers might be more interested in new innovative ancestry-related products such as AncestryDNA.
Pure laine, diversity and openness to the world
Questions of identity and national pride have been debated in Québec ever since Lord Durham wrote in his report that French Canadians were a people "without history and without literature” who should be assimilated.
Protecting this identity has been and continues to be a priority for all Quebeckers - whether they are federalists or in favour of separation.
At the core of this identity is the notion of “pure laine”. The term pure laine, literally meaning pure wool (and often translated as dyed-in-the-wool), refers to those whose ancestry is exclusively French-Canadian. (It probably relates to the raising of sheep for wool, which was common in rural Quebec of the 1700s.) Terms with a similar meaning include de souche (of the base of the tree, or root) and old stock as in "Old Stock Canadians”.
This label is well understood by Quebeckers and a source of pride for many. It’s also one that advertisers have sought to capitalize on. Beer brand Labatt Bleue stands as a symbol of this pure laine identity and the pride that comes with it. Its theme “Fiers d’être bleue” (Proud to be blue) taps into this strong sense of belonging to a tribe of pure laine Quebeckers.
What Labatt Bleue does with Québec pride is essentially the same as what Molson Canadians did with “The Rant”. It tapped into a strong sense of national identity, a pride in our common heritage and our roots to sell beer.
This sense of belonging to a nation remains strong today despite shifts in Quebec society. And politicians have and continue to walk a fine line on this issue. [In 2006, the House of Commons passed a motion that states: "That this House recognize that the Quebecois form a nation within a united Canada.” Prime minister Stephen Harper said he is using the word nation in a "cultural-sociological" rather than in a legal sense. "I think tonight was an historic night," Harper said after the vote. "Canadians across the country said 'yes' to Quebec, 'yes' to Quebecers, and Quebecers said 'yes' to Canada.]
Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies offers this important observation:
Quebeckers act like a minority and majority nation at the same time. They can tend to turn inward and display a certain insularity, but they also want others to integrate into their culture. It’s important for Quebeckers to transmit their culture and tradition to their descendants, but at the same time they believe that immigrants should abandon their own traditions and become like other Quebeckers. For some Quebeckers, this is a matter of survival. It isn’t always easy to grasp the complex and changing personality of Francophone Quebeckers.
This is a sensitive area. However, it’s one that can offer a powerful platform for a brand if done with care, relevance and authenticity. Just as The Rant had an impact that went far beyond beer sales, there is an opportunity to tap into national identity to fuel a conversation.
There is an opportunity to recognize the identity debate and the notion of “pure laine” while tapping into a fundamental shift in Québec society, one that is increasingly being embraced by a younger generation of Quebeckers that is more tolerant and more open to the world.
Quebeckers are a fairly insular people. They keep things close to home.
However, this is changing. There’s a new generation of Quebeckers who are far more open to the world outside Québec.
There also appears to be a greater acceptance of the “others”.
And a realization that immigration and language policies have created a whole new type of Québecois (known as the children of Bill 101): Quebeckers of various ethic backgrounds who speak French, and often several other languages, and who are as Québécois as the “pure laine”. Stand-up comic Sugar Sammy embodies this perfectly.
This present an opportunity for brands to prompt Quebeckers to rethink conventional labels about “visible minorities”, the “ethnics”, the “first” nations. Some may not be as “pure laine” as they thought. They could learn something unexpected about themselves. And when they do, they will understand that the differences make Quebeckers today make them who they are as a people.
If you thought that Quebeckers' hedonism would make them strong supporters of the legalization of marijuana, the findings from a recent survey by polling firm CROP for Radio-Canada may surprise you.
Quebecers are far less optimistic about the legalization of marijuana than their counterparts in the rest of Canada.
Only 41 per cent of Quebecers said they were in strongly or somewhat in favour of legalization, compared to 57 per cent of other Canadians.
For nearly every promised benefit of legalization, from the reduction of the black market to less stress on the justice system, people in Quebec were more skeptical than their counterparts elsewhere in the country.
The survey interviewed 2,536 adult Canadians, 1,017 in Quebec and the rest in other provinces.
According to manufacturers' sales data published in Protégez-vous, 458,287 new vehicles were sold in the province in 2016, an increase of 3.1% from 2015. While the market has long been dominated by compacts, the Ford F-Series now leads, ahead of the Honda Civic and the Hyundai Elantra that have lead for years.
Despite falling sales, the Honda Civic remains the most popular compact (-8%), ahead of the Hyundai Elantra (+ 9%), the Toyota Corolla (-7%) and the Mazda 3, which lost ground this year (-29%).
SUVs continued to outperform compacts in 2016. With 168,400 vehicles sold, SUV sales increased 11.7% while compacts were down -7.8%. As in 2015, the Toyota RAV4 is the most popular SUV (+ 15%), ahead of the Honda CR-V (+ 24%) and the Nissan Rogue (+ 13%).
Canadians plan to spend an average of nearly $600 on this year's holiday shopping, 8 % less than last year, yet more than half (51 per cent) expect to go over budget in the exuberance of the festive season, according to an Angus Reid poll for CIBC.
Quebeckers continue to be the least inclined to spend on holiday shopping with an average of $406, down from $450 last year.
What better way to get noticed and tell your brand's story in Québec than to sign-up a celebrity? Quebeckers love them and celebrities have the potential to multiply the impact of your media investment. But times have changed and the thinking on how best to leverage the power of celebrity endorsers in Québec will need to evolve.
Québec superstar Martin Matte goes grocery shopping at Maxi
According to Guy St-Pierre, Vice-President of Loblaws-owned grocery retailer Maxi in Québec, the celebrity comic can help the retailer improve its reputation for freshness. With plans to spend $5MM over the next two years, the ad campaign builds on Maxi's strong association with low prices while stressing its renewed emphasis on freshness.
Maxi's competitor in Québec, Super C, also uses a well-known celebrity spokesperson. Guy Jodoin has been telling a similar story for almost two years with advertising claiming that Super C always has low prices, is always fully stocked and is always fresh - "toujours à bas prix, toujours en stock, toujours frais".
The two deep discount supermarkets were neck and neck in 2014 when we asked French-speaking Quebeckers where they grocery shopped most often.
It's not clear how Martin Matte will help Maxi differentiate itself from Super C. The bigger question however is whether or not Martin Matte can do for Maxi what he did for Honda fifteen years ago. Times have changed and we would argue that social media now requires a much more transparent approach to the partnership between brands and celebrities. As Lily Bradic wrote in Social Media Week last year, "the most effective celebrity endorsements are those who seem like they would be an authentic customer of the product or service that they promote, and enough so that fans and consumers genuinely believe this."
The celebrity better be a committed customer and brand loyalist. And it better be believable to those who are "friends" with that celebrity, at least on social media.
In closely-knit Québec, simply being believed to be an authentic customer of the product or service might no longer guarantee success. The celebrity better be a committed customer and brand loyalist. And it better be believable to those who are "friends" with that celebrity, at least on social media.
So far, Martin Matte has said little to his 700,000 followers about his love of shopping at Maxi other than thanking his fans for their kind words about the advertising.
Martin Matte and Honda in Québec
In 2001, after decades of making better cars, Honda faced growing competition in Canada from its Japanese, domestic and new Korean rivals. All had raised the bar on durability, reliability and overall quality, and were advertising aggressively to get a greater share of new-car sales. The problem for Civic was further complicated because the parent company decided to retire the ever-popular Civic hatchback in 2000. Civic sales and market share were quickly eroding. This led to mounting pressure from the Quebec dealer network to shake things up, and stop the migration of sales toward competing models.
Quebeckers love to laugh. So in 2001, the agency enlisted the talents of one of Quebec’s hottest young comedians, Martin Matte. He would deliver the story of Civic's exceptional fuel efficiency in a hilarious tongue-in-cheek way. You can read the full case study from the 2007 CASSIES.