1. Not all French-speaking Canadians live in Quebec, and not all Quebecers are French-speaking

Montreal has a large English-speaking population, and around 20% of Quebecers speak a language other than French as their first language. Furthermore, of the 7 million French speakers in Canada, around 15% live outside of Quebec.

2. Most Quebecers are not bilingual in English and French

You may have spent time in parts of Europe such as Scandinavia, Germany or the Netherlands where most of the population is very comfortable in English, despite it not being their native language. This is not the case in Quebec, especially outside of the Montreal area. Only 43% of Quebecers are bilingual, and while younger generations the business community tend to be more comfortable in English, you will also encounter many Quebecers who speak little to no English.

3. Providing high-quality service in French matters

If you have a customer-facing business in Quebec, it’s extremely important that you can provide written and spoken customer service in French – done so using local terminology. Customer service agents or translators who learned French outside of Quebec may encounter difficulties and create translations with unintended meanings.

Doing business in Quebec

Brands find more success when tailoring their message to a Quebec clientele.

4. Quebec is not France

Cultural references, media personalities and celebrities, and slang expressions which are common in France may largely misunderstood in Quebec, like British humor to Americans! Accents, vocabulary and terminology have also evolved separately over the past two centuries.

Quebec has developed its own culture, influenced by its French and British heritage, its proximity to the United States, its immigrants from throughout the world, and the rich traditions of its First Nations population.

5. French-Canadians are welcoming and friendly to visitors

Quebecers are exceptionally good-natured and welcoming, and typically have quite positive feelings towards Americans. And while some Quebecers’ English may be limited, if your French is not strong, they will do their best to communicate regardless.

6. You are not expected to know French. But you are expected to respect it

Quebecers are aware that French-speakers make up only a small percentage (around 2%) of North America’s population, so unless you are spending extended periods of time in the province, Americans are not expected to know French. However, like anywhere else, being able to say a few words in the local language is very much appreciated.

Quebec has fought hard for centuries to keep its language and traditions, and Quebecers are justifiably proud that they have been able to maintain their French-speaking culture in a sea of English.

In all, Quebec is a dynamic, growing market which has adapted to the demands of the 21st century extremely well. Having business success there goes beyond translating your products into French. Taking the time to understand this market and build a marketing strategy, including social media, which resonates with Quebecers is vital.