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Canada is one of the very few countries in the world to recognize two official languages. For Canadian businesses, this often means producing marketing and communications campaigns in both English and French.

When it comes to marketing strategies, communicating with the French-speaking Québécois audience is a no-brainer. According to real estate services company Colliers International, Québec accounted for about 22% of the nation’s retail spending between January and August 2014.

But is simply translating your English messages the right way to go about establishing your brand in Québec? According to many experts, the answer is no. Successful brand building in Québec requires the understanding that the market is distinct and comes with specific consumer behaviors.

Simon Blanchard, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business says that communicators need to realize that what makes Québec unique is more than language: 

“It’s easy to think that the biggest difference comes down to language, it goes well beyond that. The socio-demographic and cultural differences between Quebeckers and the rest of Canada can have significant influences in consumption decisions. Quebeckers satisfy their needs differently.”

While budget constraints often relegate Québec to an afterthought, putting out messaging with non-professional or ad-hoc translations can have real consequences.

“Québecers pick up on inconsistencies and a failure to recognize local nuances,” said Eric Blais, president of Headspace Marketing Inc., in a recent Canadian Business articleEric recommends adjusting your offer and adapting your messaging to connect with customers in that market.

In addition to developing a separate strategy that adapts campaign offers and messaging for this unique market, investing in a Québec-based translation service can ensure that your messages capture the subtle differences that will resonate with French-speaking Canadians.

“How long did it take to write a 3,000-word news release? You put a lot of thought, time and effort into it. Why not give your translation the same importance?” asks Christiane Levêque – Manager, Language Services at CNW. “The reality is that translating your material in Québec, for the people of Québec, makes sense. It will ensure that your message comes across the right way and your brand can only benefit from it.”

Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind that doing business in an outside market means more than just using a different language. A separate strategy that considers the nuances of the local market and investing in a quality translation service based in the market you’re trying to reach will go a long way to reach your communications objectives.

About Benoit Bourdeau

Benoit Bourdeau is Manager, Media and Web Content at Cision.

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