Canadians And Their Social Values — Parts III and IV

I have been away from the blogosphere for a wee bit too long (for good reason and reason for which I’ll explain in my post manana, so come back!), but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t pass along the third and fourth articles discussing Canadians and their social values. This particular post is a long one, but stick with it — I promise you’ll thank me for it and there may just be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. :-)

I must do this because very rarely do you run across a series of articles that compels you to read the entire thing from A to Zee, not Zed. Sometimes, on those rare occasions when both the sun and moon are aligned with Jupiter and you’ve just found a four-leaf clover, the articles are so good that you want to write about them. Such is the case with the series about Canadians and their social values written by the obviously brilliant strategy team at MacLaren McCann (specifically Heidi McCulloch (@heidimcculloch) and Lee Chapman (whose Twitter handle I don’t know, but will find out!) in partnership with the Canadian Marketing Association.

I’ve previously blogged about part one of the series that addressed Canadians’ individualism, and part two of the series which astutely canvasses the topics of tolerance and acceptance. Today, I bring you parts three and four.

The third part detailed Canadians’ quality of life and was simply fantastic. It eloquently summed up the main reason I love living in Canada so much. Sure, it’s expensive as hell, but if you like spending time with your family without feeling like you’re going to lose your job or can pursue your passion because you you know you’ll have healthcare no matter what that passion may be, then Canada’s your place.

Now, without further ado, part three of the series.

Defining Value #3
“One difference between Americans and Canadians is that Americans are still waiting to win the lottery. Canadians live as if they have already won the lottery.” Michael Adams, Fire and Ice, 2003.

20% of Canadians cite Quality of Life as top source of pride in being Canadian. (Macleans Canada Day Survey 2006). Quality of Life is one of Canadians’ key defining values.

Quality of life, simply put, refers to how good life is. People throughout the centuries, and in various parts of the world, have defined quality in their lives in rather distinct ways.

Among developed countries, certain variables are consistent in defining quality of life – life expectancy, purchasing power, literacy and education, housing, employment, finances. Against these variables, in study after study, Canada has always landed in the top ranks. For example, in the 2009 Mercer Consulting annual Quality of Living Survey among 215 cities, Vancouver ranked 4th and Toronto ranked 15th. In all of the Americas, Canadian cities of Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary dominated the top spots.

Where does this come from?

• Canada is endowed with nature’s majesty, in lakes, mountains, fields in our backyard. Our physical closeness to nature likely inspires a more mellow approach to life and living.
• Since after the Great Depression, Canada instituted policies that would ensure that its people maintained certain standards of living – pensions, health care, protection from unemployment and other social support. Having a secure safety net gives people a certain reassurance that no matter what goes wrong, all will be well; in general, people have less to be anxious and stressed about. Unencumbered, people pursue a certain way of living that is more attuned to relationships, connections, rather than simply getting ahead in a rat race.

Points of Evidence
Macleans annual Canada Day poll offers up interesting proof points about Canadians’ distinct version of quality of life.

For Canadians, there is more to life than work: Canadians place A REWARDING CAREER behind Freedom; Family Life; Being Loved and Being Canadian on their list of things that they value the most. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)

Asked which activities they enjoy most, Canadians cite: A nice meal with my partner; Having a few hours for myself. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)

Canadians believe that Experiences, not Things, make one happy. When asked, what is the best thing that happened to you in the past year, milestones such as weddings, births, pregnancies, vacations, graduations rose to the top of the lists. Moving into a new house or getting a new car sat at the bottom of the list of best things. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)
Canadians don’t care for keeping up with the Joneses. 29% of Canadians say it’s important that people admire the things they own, compared with 36% of Americans. (Fire and Ice, Michael Adams)

Marketing Reference
Lululemon

The brand believes in keeping healthy, exercising, and drinking eight glasses of water a day. They’re not just getting people to buy their clothes, but to embrace the lifestyle they promote. And that lifestyle, outlined in their manifesto, includes beliefs like, “Friends are more important than money.” Their mission: Lululemon athletic creates components for people to live longer, healthier and more fun lives. If we can produce products to keep people active and stress-free, we believe the world will become a much better place. Lululemon has successfully tapped into a Canadians’ unique view of what a good life looks like.

Molsons’ Made From Canada
The Made From Canada spot pays homage to Canadas’s natural beauty, and the uniquely Canadian impulse to enjoy it as much as we can. Copy: Fact is, its this land that shapes us. We know we have the best backyard in the world and we get out there every chance we get.

Lee Chapman, Strategic Planner, MacLaren

And finally, article four, which tackles why Canada is just so peaceful (Hi, how about the “no guns allowed” rule? ;-)).

This post signals an end to our series on Dominant Canadian Social Values. We’ve outlined 4 Canadian Values: a unique balance between individualism and collectivism; an attitude of tolerance and acceptance; a heightened appreciation for a quality of life; and finally, an essentially peaceful predisposition.

We hope these guideposts will help you when crafting communications that can relevantly connect with and engage Canadians.

Defining Value #4
Borne of a legacy of cooperation and compromise, Canadians are essentially a peaceful people living in a peaceful place. An underlying sense of comfort and security manifests in our ideology with regards to peacekeeping and also is reflected in our business dealings. Further, it may be what allows us to attend to what we refer to as ‘higher level values’.

Points of Evidence
Canada truly and factually is a safer place to live. The murder rate in Canada is 1.85: 100,000 people, as compared to the U.S. at 5.6:100,000. The U.S. incarceration rate is approximately 6 times higher than in Canada; in fact, Canada’s murder rate has fallen by more than 40 per cent since 1975.

And perceptually Canadians feel safer as a people. Canadians afraid to walk at night is down almost 5% since 1975 and Canadians are more worried about Bullying than Terrorism.(MacLean’s Magazine Canada Day Report 2006)

How this Manifests
On Peacekeeping
: When Canadians are asked about the traditional role of the Canadian military, they speak with pride about Canadian participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions. Over the years, more than 125,000 Canadian military personnel have served on peacekeeping missions for the United Nations – more than any other country. (cbcnews.ca, Canada: The World’s Peacekeeper)

In Business: Our peacefulness extends to our engagement style regarding business dealings. The 2008 Bribe Payer’s Index, prepared by the global civil society organization Transparency International, ranks Canada at No. 1, tied with Belgium—meaning our companies are the least likely in the world to engage in payoffs. Only four per cent of Canadian business people have ever bribed high-ranking politicians or political parties, according to the survey, well below the international average of 13 per cent. (MacLean’s Magazine Canada Day Report 2009)

On ‘Higher-Level Values’: Canadians embrace social responsibility. Almost 7 in 10 Canadians (68%) pay attention to issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility; 52% have consciously refused to buy a product or a service from a company not conducting business in a socially responsible way. And Canadians see the global environmental issue as second only to healthcare as a pressing issue facing the country (note that this ranking has bounced about a little with economy factoring in of late). (Social Responsibility in Canada, Ipsos Reid 2003 and 2006)

A Marketing Reference
Need we look any further than the spiritually-based success story that is Lululemon?

But in the interest of not repeating ourselves, let’s reference Marc Thuet’s restaurant in Toronto instead – Conviction Restaurant. Conviction Restaurant offers recently rehabilitated ex-convicts a chance to turn their lives around by helping give patrons “the most unforgettable eating experience of their lives”. As testament to the success of the concept, planning for a second Conviction location in British Columbia is currently underway.

Thanks again for your valuable time and attention!

Heidi McCulloch, V.P., Senior Strategic Planner, MacLaren McCann

So there you have it. Four defining reasons that makes Canada, and Canadians, great. Longtime ATGAIC readers already know that I love Canada, but just to set the record straight, I don’t in any way hate the States; on the contrary. Rather, it’s more like trying to fit into your favourite high school sweater; even though it might not fit quite right anymore, you’ll always have a certain fondness for it and you have to buy something new. Who knows, maybe I can figure out a way to live in both of “my” countries, by which I mean if you are a Canadian sugar daddy looking for a cute American girl, you know where to find me. :-)

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