Globalization

Canada may be a hockey power without peer, but that's about where our world-beating begins and ends. We're still a small fish in a big pond filled with a lot of sharks. Before anyone gets a complex, the other truism is that you don't have to be the biggest fish to compete or even come out on top. Canada has several marketers who are making a go of it against the big boys, from Canadian Tire to Second Cup. Others, like HBC, are facing stiff charges from stateside behemoths, but even there, marketers have ideas about how to stay in the fight.

Canada may be a hockey power without peer, but that’s about where our world-beating begins and ends. We’re still a small fish in a big pond filled with a lot of sharks. Before anyone gets a complex, the other truism is that you don’t have to be the biggest fish to compete or even come out on top. Canada has several marketers who are making a go of it against the big boys, from Canadian Tire to Second Cup. Others, like HBC, are facing stiff charges from stateside behemoths, but even there, marketers have ideas about how to stay in the fight.

‘[Wal-Mart] is strongly positioned on price, but they can’t be everything to everyone so that leaves the opportunity to differentiate on quality and style and other aspects in the marketing mix,’ says David Strickland, SVP marketing at Brampton, Ont.-based Zellers, which is part of HBC. It’s an issue that is going to become ever more salient for HBC in light of recent news about U.S. marketers Target and Macy’s being interested in acquiring some or all of the company.

That said, he points out that the coming of large, global companies actually provides an opportunity for homegrown marketers. For example, says, Strickland, ‘In the beer business, a lot of the smaller brands have been able to prosper because as the Molsons and Labatts have become more focused in a global context, that allows other people to look at the market differently and develop a position that isn’t just about image and global position.’

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‘You have to have a clear position and it all depends upon whether your competitors have taken those positions and whether you can operationalize the promise,’ says Strickland. ‘If you can’t differentiate your proposition, which is more than just the advertising, but also the promised delivery, then you’re in trouble. You have to know the marketplace better and understand how your own brand and propositions, as well as those of major global competitors, are perceived in Canada.’