New regulations would require businesses with non-French trademarks to display prominent French signage, whether it is a slogan, a description or a message about what’s on sale.
This is the government response to a 2014 ruling on a court action brought by Best Buy, Costco, Gap, Old Navy, Guess, Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us and Curves that under existing language regulations, companies with an English brand name were not obliged to add a French phrase to their signs. The new rules will require that the French addition be in the same field of vision as the principal sign and that it be illuminated at night if the main sign is.
Many retailers in Québec already comply by adding a touch of French to their names either by adding an article or a French descriptor. Les cafés Starbucks. Le Body Shop. Crate & Barrel Maison. Winners Mode. Moore vêtements pour hommes.
The new rules would allow a retailer to comply by simply adding a French slogan.
As such, the sign of the Roots store on Ste-Catherine Street in Montréal with "Depuis 1973" (Since 1973) would likely comply. And so does Tim Hortons Toujours Frais signage.
The rules will apply immediately after the regulations’ adoption to new signs, but there will be a three-year delay to bring existing signs into conformity.
Statistical Snapshots - facts and figures about Québec and the RoC
A survey by Ipsos Reid conducted between December 15 and 20, 2015 among 1,003 Canadians on behalf of RBC Insurance asked respondents to identify which of five traveller profiles best described them. While there aren't major differences, the findings offer an insight into Quebec travellers.
Relative to Canadians in the RoC, Quebeckers are less adventurous / more likely to remain in their comfort zone.
The Risk-Raking Rover - You seek adventure at every turn, the last thing you want to do on your vacation is be bored.
11% of Canadians
12% of Quebeckers
The Scheduled Sightseer - Every minute of your vacation is planned out and fits within a tightly-packed schedule.
13% of Canadians
16% of Quebeckers
The Armchair Adventurer - You like to sit back and relax, letting others go off on adventures if they want.
13% of Canadians
11% of Quebeckers
The Timid Trekker - You don't like to stray too far from your comfort zone when on vacation, opting instead for similar restaurants and activities.
18% of Canadians
24% of Quebeckers
The Play-it-by-ear Pilgrim - The only plan on your travels is where you're going, after that you just see where the journey takes you.
Cara said it sees a major opportunity to tap the experience St-Hubert has built up in selling to grocers for its other brands like Swiss Chalet. This makes sense. However, Cara should know that when Québec grocery shoppers pick up a can of St-Hubert sauce, they're also taking home a source of pride rooted in history and comforting rituals.
With the purchase, Cara gets Quebec’s number one full-service restaurant chain, which it considers a platform to expand its other brands into the province. It also gets a retail business that makes restaurant-branded food for purchase in groceries as well as two factories – currently working at about half capacity – that are ripe for developing comestibles.
Perhaps more importantly, however, it gets that which can rarely be bought: A deep pool of emotional capital that comes from 65 years of consumer loyalty.
Started by Hélène and René Léger in 1951, the franchise chicken chain is so ubiquitous in its home province that its 1960s jingle is still recognizable to most Quebeckers. Its restaurants are community gathering places, its meal packs staples on election campaign buses.
As Eric Blais of strategic marketing firm Headspace Marketing Inc. puts it, St-Hubert’s secret sauce goes far beyond the actual sauce, famed chicken and creamy coleslaw.
“Drive through any small town across Quebec and you’ll see a church, a caisse populaire [credit union] and a St-Hubert,” Mr. Blais said. “You’ll also see a busy Tim Hortons. They’re local and, like Cheers, everyone knows your name.”
Rona may have been struggling in recent years but it remained a jewel and a source of pride for Québec Inc. This pride in being Québécois (and Canadian) ran deep. And Rona flaunted it to differentiate itself from U.S.-owned competitors.
In the days following the announcement that Lowe's was acquiring Rona, signs in and out of stores were still up touting Rona's Canadian pride.
We offer a wide selection of Canadian products.
Because we are proud of being a Canadian-owned company.
Shop at Rona and you'll be served by "The Canadian How To People".
I leave it to others (including Québec's opposition parties) to debate whether or not this is further evidence of a disturbing trend of Québec-based companies being sold to foreign interests. For marketers, this change in ownership raises questions from a branding and positioning standpoint. Lowe's has indicated that it intends to maintain the Rona name. As it loses its ability to stress its Canadian ownership and leverage this as a differentiator, will the Rona brand be weakened? Does it matter that a retailer is a proud Canadian?
Country-of-origin does matter, in some cases. Empirical studies conducted over several years suggest that when consumers are aware of certain country characteristics, they are more inclined to use country-of-origin as an external cue in evaluating product quality; think Swiss watches, German engineering, French wines, or Italian garments. However, most studies on the impact of country-of-origin on purchase decisions have been conducted on status and image-oriented products.
Do contractors and do-it-yourselfers care that a drill, a light fixture or roofing shingles are made in Canada? Some might. Studies on country-of-origin have demonstrated that it matters to consumers with ethnocentric belief systems. These consumers are more likely to select locally made products and likely rate their country's products more favourably than those made in foreign countries. In the food sector, many consumers view locally produced or grown products more favourably. For example, the designation Aliments du Québec has become an important brand cue in Québec’s grocery stores. While country-of-origin may matter to some consumers particularly for some product categories like apparel, many researchers believe that the biases are fading as globalization, outsourcing, alliances, technological advancements and other country-specific factors change the image and product quality of many countries.
If the perceived quality of Canadian products isn't a strong differentiator, could corporate ownership be? Again, it's unlikely. Take Canada Goose. The iconic Canadian brand was sold to U.S. private equity giant Bain Capital in 2013. It's doubtful that even those who are willing to pay close to a thousand dollars for an Expedition Parka care about the company's ownership. "We’re authentic and we’re real and we’re made in Canada.” declared Dani Reiss, the chief executive officer and grandson of the company’s founder to the Globe and Mail. He added “I think the market’s tough out there, but we’re committed to manufacturing in Canada.”
That's when corporate social responsibility intersects with branding as CSR becomes a bigger shaper of corporate identities. Lowe’s commitment to keep the Rona name in Québec and a head office in Boucherville, Que., and not to shed jobs in the province is now part of the brand. And it matters.
Walmart learned this the hard way twenty years ago when, citing financial reasons, it closed its store in Jonquière near Chicoutimi, Que. after it became the first Walmart in Canada to vote to become unionized. Quebeckers boycotted Walmart en masse. Reputation surveys by Léger Marketing at the time revealed that positive predispositions to Walmart among Québec shoppers had dropped from 71% in 2004 to just 11% after the store closure in 2005. Today Walmart has regained Quebeckers' respect. One of the main reason was the creation in 2006 of the "buy Québec" program that clearly identified products purchased but not necessarily manufactured in Québec. Walmart also prominently featured a Québec supplier of the month in its stores' entrance.
Perhaps as a way to signal to Rona that it intended to enter the Québec market in one way or another, Lowe's made it known last year that it was meeting with Québec suppliers to understand what products they could offer. Whatever the real intention was, it would suggest that Lowe's management understands the value of "buying in Québec". In fact, some of these suppliers might see their market expand given Lowe's North American footprint and the value of the Canadian dollar. Customers may also see lower prices. And employees may have a more stable employer.
Rona may no longer be a proud Canadian but it would be wise to keep acting like one.