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Canadian companies going global – 64% have a global vision from the outset

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New research into Canadian companies’ ambitions and international activity has revealed a strong entrepreneurial streak.

Rochester PR Group, a UK-based market entry specialist helping international brands and companies create a presence in the UK, commissioned this latest section of their ‘UK Market Entry Index’ research looking at Canadian businesses and their plans and attitudes about expanding internationally, particularly to the UK. 

64% of Canadian respondents stated that the vision for their companies had always been global rather than local. The peak age of a Canadian business first starting to trade overseas was 2–5 years at 39%, compared to 23% for under a year, a relatively high 19% for 5 years plus and 18% for 10 years plus. Joanna Dodd, Managing Director, Rochester PR Group comments; “It’s interesting to note strong high global vision although as we move into researching some European markets, we anticipate there will be a much higher figure for younger companies were going global is more of a mindset from launch.”

Proving that Canadian businesses are an ambitious bunch, when asked ‘how many international markets do you want to enter the next 12 months’, some went as high as 10.  Perhaps not surprisingly the most frequently named country that Canadian companies were already doing business with was the US, but other countries mentioned ran to a list of 28 including the UK (in the second spot), followed by China, Mexico Japan and Germany.

When thinking specifically about the UK and why the market is attractive to Canadian business, the UK came third in terms of the 262most entrepreneurial country after the US and China/Hong Kong with Peru and Chile at the lower end of the scale. The UK also came third in terms of a country (not yet operating in) that would be easiest to do business with (the US was again the most common response).

The top reason for selecting the UK was ‘English as an international language’, very closely followed by its ‘large customer base’, the fact that it is a ‘good stepping stone to other international markets’ and its ‘multi-cultural consumer base’. Joanna comments; “These findings echo what many of our clients tell us about why they choose the UK – we’ve even had some tell us when talking about the UK ‘if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere’.”

Looking at the biggest challenges likely to face Canadian companies starting up in the UK, the top pick was ‘competition against brands with a stronger local presence’ (chosen by 18% of recipients) followed by ‘understanding the business culture/way of doing things’; “which just goes to show that speaking the same language doesn’t automatically make life easy.  Lack of contacts and time taken to win customers both scored 14% although in our experience these can often prove to be the biggest hurdles – maybe Canadians are more optimistic than others,” concludes Joanna.

The research also revealed that when thinking about UK market entry, 55% of Canadians believe ‘employing local talent’, and ‘seeking local professional advice’ (54%) was something to be done prior to launch. With 54% of Canadians also considering ‘how to adapt their messaging’ for the UK market.  Joanna said; “What was interesting from our point of view was that Canadian companies rated journalists and influencers (PR, digital, social media) higher (chosen by 40%) than registering a company.”

In addition, it seems that Canadians are looking forward to working with us Brits (chosen by 21% of respondents), our history and culture and ease of travel to Europe.  Funnily enough British weather is yet to appear anywhere except in the last place!

For any Australian companies looking for practical information on setting up a business in the UK as well as some sound general business advice download Rochester PR Group’s free ‘UK Market Entry Advice Booklet’. Crammed full of advice, tips and antidotes from across their network, it’s a great first step towards success in the UK. Download for free here.

The research was carried out in July 2019, amongst 250 Canadian companies spanning sectors including (in order of numbers of respondents) technology, financial services, consumer services, other business services, food and drink, lifestyle (including restaurants and retail) and FMCG.  Rochester’s UK Market Entry Index is being researched across different countries, building a global snapshot of similarities and differences in attitude and activity.

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