Carol Wong-Li
Carol Wong-Li is Associate Director, Lifestyles and Leisure for Mintel. Carol researches and writes reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industries.

Canadians are more inclined to be proud of their nation than Americans (74% vs 64%). While consumers across both sides of the border are united in feeling that freedom is a core defining value of what it means to be a Canadian or American, they differ in what they view as the values that define their countries. Canadians are much more inclined to see equality and diversity as defining Canadian values, while Americans are much more inclined to see hard work and patriotism as top American values.

Immigration is the primary driver of population growth in Canada today and more than one in five Canadians are foreign-born. The increasingly diverse social fabric is having an impact on how Canadians think of ‘mainstream’ Canada, shifting towards a perception of ‘mainstream’ as one where lines are more blurred and a cultural mosaic where ethnic backgrounds and cultures exist side by side. Notably, Canadians also see themselves as being open-minded. This ideology highlights an acceptance of other cultures and pride in the fact that the nation is multicultural. Remarkably, pride in diversity is something that may be internalized more than in the US, as Canadians are much more likely to feel that they are “part of the mainstream” than Americans. With an emphasis placed on equality, Canadians are also of the mindset that they are free to speak their minds when it comes to discussing different perspectives on issues they care about and do not need to actively suppress their views to be politically correct. For marketers, this shows that Canadians see themselves as accepting, open-minded and will expect brands to align with these values.

Immigration is the primary driver of population growth in Canada today and more than one in five Canadians are foreign-born.

Canadians have their own version of the ‘American Dream’

In general, our data shows that Canadians are more optimistic about the direction of their country compared to Americans. Part of this may stem from Canadians’ perceived ability to achieve financial success this year. Canadians hold a high level of optimism that they will be able to achieve what some may deem the ‘basics’ in terms of financial and personal goals, suggesting that Canadians may have their own version of the ‘The Dream’. This is an area where Canadians are more inclined to have hope, as Canadians are more likely to view their financial goals are achievable.

What we think

With an increasingly diverse population, marketers will need to be mindful that preferences, tastes and needs will change alongside how Canadians think of what constitutes “mainstream” Canada. From a marketing perspective, this suggests considerations need to be taken on two levels; inclusiveness is something that matters to consumers today and voices of various ethnic groups are growing and will want to be heard. Recent happenings in other countries may be working to bring the issues of tolerance and acceptance more to the forefront. These issues may be particularly salient to iGens, as younger generations tend to be more ethnically diverse than older ones. This suggests marketing efforts that portray inclusivity and diversity – not just in ethnic makeup, but also featuring a wider range of ideologies and living arrangements – will be more effective when targeting 18-24s.