For most Canadians living outside the province, Quebec is both a source of pride and a bit of a mystery. Canadians like the fact that the country is home to two strong cultural groups that, for the most part, are able to live and work together harmoniously. But for companies and organizations from outside the province looking to operate in Quebec, the differences in culture, law, customs and, of course, language can be challenging. How can organizations develop a solid understanding of Quebec’s unique markets and consumers so they can operate successfully?

For lifestyle-based insights, marketers can turn to segmentation systems like those developed by Environics Analytics (EA). Last spring, EA released rebuilt versions of its PRIZM segmentation products, including PRIZM5, which classifies all Canadians into 68 segments—17 of them francophone—and PRIZM5 QC, which focuses specifically on Quebec with 58 distinct consumer segments. With new data from nearly a dozen demographic, marketing and media sources, these segmentation systems can help organizations better understand what Quebec consumers are buying, doing and thinking—the better to reach them with the right products, media and messages.

How would a segmentation-based analysis actually work? Here’s a simplified example that illustrates the process.

An Ontario-based bicycle retailer is considering expanding into an underserved market in Quebec. To make sure the company’s expansion plans are viable, marketers would want to conduct the following:

  • Quantify market potential
  • Identify the highest propensity customers
  • Develop lifestyle and lifestage information about these customers
  • Map the neighbourhoods where they live
  • Document the media habits and online behaviour of the target market

After classifying the postal codes of the bicycle retailer’s existing client base using PRIZM5, analysts would then identify the lifestyle segments that are home to the highest propensity consumers in Quebec. For our hypothetical example, let’s say these segments are: Nouveaux Riches (well-off suburban families and couples), Beau Monde (older, middle-income city dwellers) and Mini Van & Vin Rouge (younger and middle-aged suburban and exurban families and couples).

Survey data indicate members of all these segments enjoy cycling as a leisure activity. And after ranking markets across Quebec with high concentrations of these segments, analysts then produce the map (below) which shows the postal codes of the target group in and around the Montreal area. For the retailer, deciding where to locate a brick and mortar store becomes much simpler when he can see where his potential customers live.

Map - EA-SR ArcMap - Streets

PRIZM5, and particularly PRIZM5 QC, also provide data for sizing the market. The target group population totals 1,640,000, or nearly 20% of the Quebec total population; 950,000 live in the Montreal market. Data also show that the retailer will have to compete with Sports Experts, already established within this target group, and take into consideration its locations.

PRIZM5 and PRIZM5 QC also offer important demographic information about Quebec’s cycling fans: it’s a group that’s well educated (24% have a university degree), affluent (average income is $96,000, 32% above the Quebec average) and employed in white collar and service sector jobs.

To communicate with them, the data show that, while a high proportion are bilingual, this group prefers French language media, especially magazines and television. Specifically, they enjoy watching Canal D, Le Reseau des Sport, Series+ and similar programming. In terms of magazines, they favour publications that focus on gardening and home décor, touring and travel, and news; 7 Jours is especially popular among these consumers. They go online for specific purposes, such as shopping for groceries, reading consumer reviews and gathering news, but they do not tend to linger on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. And they’ve been slower than their anglophone peers to adopt smart phones, so mobile marketing is probably not an important element in the retailer’s strategy.

Finally, the retailer can also use segmentation data to gain insights into target customers’ values that help in crafting better advertising messages. This particular group is very environmentally conscious with a strong attraction to nature. They are very proud of their identity as Quebecois, and they strive to achieve work/life balance. As would be expected, this is a physically active group; when the cycling season comes to an end, they get out their cross country or downhill skis and skates; the retailer might want to consider extending its merchandise to include equipment for these sports. Just make sure the wool in the scarves comes from sustainable sheep farms and the packaging is recyclable. And a blue and white fleur-de-lis design might not be a bad idea either.

For businesses considering entering the Quebec market, the information offered by the PRIZM segmentation systems can help answer many key questions, including the size of the market’s potential, the location of the best consumers and their habits, media consumption, lifestyle and values. All enable marketers to quantify their opportunity and reduce risk by more fully understanding the landscape and how to operate in it. But the last question may be most important: Are you ready for an exciting—and potentially lucrative—challenge?

Jim Green is vice president of sales for the Quebec Region at Environics Analytics.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Direct Marketing.

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