First published on February 17, 2016 by Emily Larson

So, by now you’ve realized that with a population of over 7 million, Quebec represents huge potential for your business. However, while you may have a great marketing strategy for Canada as a whole, developing a more nuanced approach for this unique market can be challenging. Quebec has strict language regulations and a strong cultural identity. Entering the Quebec market therefore requires a lot of research and deep understanding. Sound like too much work? Think again. At LAT we have years of experience helping brands reach their Quebecois customers and are now sharing our insights with you. Here are three key things you need to know before entering the Quebec market:

1. Yes, More Language Laws

If you’re interested in Quebec, chances are your business already has a presence in Canada. If that’s the case, then you’re well aware that your products and services need to adhere to Canada’s bilingual regulations. When it comes to Quebec, there are more French language laws you need to comply with. Sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics of The Charter of the French Language, also known as Loi 101, you’ll quickly realize the key message: providing products and services in French is essential not only to get a foot in the door, but also to truly connect with Quebecois consumers.

While Loi 101 might initially seem like just one more hurdle, it is important to understand that the French language is a key part of Quebec’s identity and culture. If you want your business to truly succeed in this market, you need to take the language requirements seriously. How can you do this? Getting high-quality French Canadian translations from people with local knowledge is an important first step. Once you lay the groundwork of a French-language presence, you’ll be well on your way to developing a strong overall strategy for entering the Quebec market.

Quebec Market

2. Increase ROI with a Localized Digital Marketing Strategy

Whether it’s product labels and store signage or your website and user manuals, once you’ve met the language requirements for the basics, you’ll want to move on to your marketing strategy. While developing a French-language marketing strategy may seem like a huge investment, it is an intelligent move that will yield much greater ROI. Adapting your ads to the Quebec market makes sense for the obvious reason that you always want your content to resonate with your audience, but there’s another reason to get on board with Canadian French marketing: the price. If your digital marketing strategy includes SEO and PPC (which it most definitely should), then you want to turn your attention towards French-language initiatives. English-language PPC campaigns and SEO are effective components of most brands’ online strategy, but these spaces can also be highly (and increasingly) competitive. Comparing the same keywords between English and French reveals that French-language campaigns can give you almost 4 times the ROI. Still not convinced? Campaigns run in both English and French not only see better ROI in French, but also greater engagement and conversion rates.

The caveat? Your content needs to be localized for the market. That may sound like common sense, but a surprising amount of businesses simply get a direct translation of their English-language content and hope to see the same results.

Investing in getting your ad content specifically adapted for the Quebec market, linguistically and culturally, will lead to much greater success.

GIven that a French PPC and SEO strategy is less expensive and much more likely to connect with Quebec’s predominantly French-speaking population, it’s not just good business sense, it’s common sense.

3. Don’t Skimp on Customer Service

Okay, so at this point you’ve satisfied the regulations and have a strong digital marketing strategy driving brand visibility in Quebec, what’s the next step? The follow-through. SEO and PPC campaigns can be broken down into numbers and statistics that explain their value, but don’t forget the importance of some of the intangibles. In Quebec, a key intangible is customer service. As a company that helps companies find employees with specific language skills, one thing has become clear to our recruiters: customer service in French is essential to doing business in Québec.

Consumers want genuine and unique interactions with businesses. If you can make your customers feel special and truly listened to, you’ll quickly establish strong brand loyalty and a great reputation. Once again, the French language is key here. One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make is entering the Quebec market with all the right translated materials, but not being prepared to provide excellent French-language support. Going above and beyond the basic language regulations will help your brand stand out from the crowd. Making the extra effort will resonate with a Quebecois audience and is a great move towards building a strong presence in this important market.

If you take only one thing away from this post, let it be this: it cannot be overstated how important the French language is in the Quebec market. Translating your materials into French, and more specifically French Canadian, is an essential step to reaching Quebec’s millions of consumers. Whether it’s SEO or product labels, make sure you work with a translation company that understands the nuances of Quebecois language and culture. Reaching out and engaging consumers in their own language is the cornerstone of successfully entering the Quebec market.