The controversy red cups that shook Starbucks this autumn has demonstrated the importance for retailers to develop their marketing strategy conscientiously holiday season – and Canadian retailers have learned from the experience of the US giant coffee.
Canadians generally are not as expressive as their southern neighbors when it comes time to show their disagreement, but retailers are well aware that the holidays can be a sensitive subject in a multicultural society like Canada.
Retailers marketing strategies have evolved over time as businesses are now taking into account the reactions of their audiences.
According to Michael LeBlanc, Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Canadian Council of retail trade, there is a “catalyst” event every year, and this time, it is Starbucks who tasted it.
The US company has swapped his cups adorned with snowflakes, Christmas decorations and reindeer with a red nose against minimalist cups, completely red, except for its green logo.
The directors explained that they had simply opted for a design “simple”, but some religious conservatives have interpreted the decision as an affront to tradition.
The controversy cups of Starbucks, which made headlines in the United States, demonstrated the importance of this delicate operation.
“It is very important to align its brand around the right message at the right time and in the right place,” noted Mr. LeBlanc, adding that the holiday season was certainly the most thoughtful among retailers.
There decade, some Canadian retailers chose not to mention Christmas to avoid offending some communities. “Customer response – most of which have not even celebrated Christmas – was to say: ” think it is correct to say Christmas, ‘” said Mr. LeBlanc.
Canadian firms appear to have obtained the permission of Canadians – whether of Christian confession or not – to use the word “Christmas” and its symbols, according to the expert.
They will usually start talking more softly a few weeks before Christmas on December 25, to finally focus on Christmas, thus adopting a less offensive approach, according to Darren Dahl, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia.
“It covers everything Jewish celebrations, arriving just before this period, the Christian holidays […] to the people who do not recognize themselves in these cultural traditions but more like a week off during the winter” Has he explained.
This more subdued approach may offend some customers, however, acknowledged Mr. Dahl. “People who celebrate Christmas may be shocked that their tradition is put a little aside. But I believe there is a silent majority of people who are comfortable to celebrate all holidays, “he added.