Still need advice?

Suzanne Sauvage, president of Cossette Communication Group Montreal, delivers the straight goods after 20 years in the biz.

Suzanne Sauvage, president of Cossette Communication Group Montreal, delivers the straight goods after 20 years in the biz.

How are national and international advertisers perceived by Quebec consumers?

I don’t think it’s a matter of where the advertisers are from – it’s how they choose to talk to Quebec consumers.

That said, it’s clear that when you look at the most appreciated advertising in Quebec, it’s advertising that is made by Quebecers: some from national accounts like Bell or international accounts such as McDonald’s, and some from local advertisers like familiprix.

It’s undeniable. I’ve tried to find global campaigns that would have tremendous impact in Quebec and I haven’t found any. I’m still looking.

How do advertisers make an investment in Quebec worthwhile?

They have to commit financially up front, and after that they have to ensure consistency of communications over time. And I think they have to show ingenuity also. This does not necessarily mean investing in mass media all the time. If you want to win share of heart there are other ways of doing it, such as promotions, sponsorships and alliances.

How can advertisers measure their ROI in Quebec?

Tangible outcomes are sales, incremental sales, increased share price and increased financial returns. But we should not dismiss the intangible outcomes, [which can often become tangible].

I’m talking about brand equity, share of heart, corporate image, reputation and so on. We know that there’s a very strong correlation between a company’s reputation and its financial performance, and of course communications have a strong impact on a company’s reputation.

Do advertisers always have to produce original creative in Quebec?

Advertisers should always consider whether their campaign will be effective in Quebec or not. And it could be effective. But they should give it some serious thought or analysis before they start spending money.

Should advertisers change their marketing strategy in order to sell to Quebec consumers?

No. Not necessarily. Quebecers have some different tastes than the rest of Canada and they might be very indifferent to some products and services that are popular in the rest of Canada – food and music habits, for example, are very specific. But most of the time common positioning works. It just has to be communicated in a distinct fashion.

If you are selling a cell phone, for example, you might have a promotion offering free evenings and weekends in Ontario. In Quebec, it will be the same marketing offer but you might have your communication strategy focusing on the pleasure of talking to your friends and going out, whereas in Ontario your insight will be that you’ll be saving a lot of money.

It’s a bit of a caricature, but it does reflect very different values and this is what you have to reflect in your marketing.

What kind of mistakes do marketers make when first launching a product or campaign in Quebec?

The first mistake is not being sensitive to differences. Another mistake is that they don’t look closely enough at the media in Quebec; it’s much less fragmented than in the rest of Canada because there are fewer media options.

The biggest mistake [marketers make] is not taking the time to have a close look at the Quebec market and at the consumers they’re targeting. They might find out that for their product, Quebecers are on the same wavelength as the rest of Canada and that their communications will work here. But they might also find the opposite and communications will be much more impactful if they look closely up front.