Determining the Importance of Marketing Language To Retailers In Bilingual Quebec: A Basis For Cost

Ray C. Garvey
Business Administration, Baker University, Overland Park, Kansas, USA
July, 2001
 

Abstract

Abstract

Language issues and ideas of a nation separated politically continue to evolve in Quebec. Quebec’s great debate on language and nationhood poses both opportunity and difficulty for America’s English-speaking firms wishing to enter the pan-Canadian marketplace. Ever inundated with English-language broadcasts and American cultural influences, Quebec’s marketplace is unassumingly distinct from other regions of Canada. One-fourth of Canada’s consumers reside there, a large percentage of whom are bilingual in English and French. Exporters from the United States, especially those who are new to exporting or wishing to exploit the advantages of the North American Free Trade Agreement, can easily take for granted the unique business climate there and suffer financial losses without ever achieving market potential.

This study provides empirical evidence to support management directives for cost-benefit analysis to be performed where the costs of translating or reformulating marketing strategies into French language must be considered essential to achieve maximum success in the market. While a strategic approach could be proposed to utilize exemptions in language laws and English-language broadcasts to market products in Quebec, this study concludes that such an approach will not be sufficient for establishing a strong retail presence. Even those retailers who do accept the product for resale, according to this study, agree that sales of the product would be enhanced through French marketing materials and information. For the American producer and exporter of goods and services, a cost-benefit analysis performed with all variables related to product marketing communications in French to retailers in Quebec is strongly recommended. Different modes of achieving this communication have been reviewed in this study. The method that best serves the strategic goals of the exporter and meets the needs of the retail sector, if feasible, is most desired. Companies may wish to cede control of marketing activities or avoid the market altogether if language issues make market development infeasible.
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