New Product in Canada
Canada is our home and native land. It’s a massive country with an amazingly diverse population. The mosaic nature of our country makes it an attractive export market for goods from many countries. Given the relationship with our American neighbours (cultural, consumer behavior, policy, media, etc) it’s a logical extension for anybody exporting to or from the United States market. Now, Canadians are known for their willingness to provide a helping hand in any situation. Continuing the trend, allow us to present some suggestions that will significantly increase your odds of success within Canada.
First- Consumer test your product (and brand) with Canadian consumers. Regardless of how aligned Canadian consumers might be to those in your home market there are still real differences. Your competitive set in Canada is likely different, as are their respective brand positioning. The retailers are different- their presentation of your category and the over-development of store brands. As the Nielsen Company points out, via their Pre-Bases testing approach, one-in-five new products that test successfully in the U.S. fail in Canada. With the high cost of acquiring retail listings the risk of not testing is just too high. We can help guide you through consumer testing in Canada.
Second- Find capable in-market partners. Whether you are headquartered in New York or London and beyond you will require skilled and focused local resources to manage a diverse, dynamic and competitively complex Canadian market. Partners with a branded portfolio, demonstrated success and strong relationships throughout the sales, marketing and other business communities in Canada will ensure that sound strategy translate into solid programs and lead to profitable sales, all resulting from in-market focus.
Third- Invest in a Plan (and Plan to Invest). There is no product sufficiently good and distinct to sell itself. New business requires selective investment- both with retail partners to ‘push’ the product to shelf and with consumers to ‘pull’ it through. Only through careful planning can the appropriate spending levels be established (and monitored), and only through planning can the push and pull programs be harmonized to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness. By the way- as to finding partners- hold out for a go-to-market partner that is willing to spend alongside you to build your brand.
These suggestions will not guarantee a successful business in the Canadian market, but attending to them will certainly minimize risk, maximize opportunity and in so doing put you ahead of the competitive pack.