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US and Canadian Flags

Steve Stallard, Senior Vice President

Did you know that Canadians are known as the United States’ friendly neighbor to the north?  But is there any truth to the stereotype that Canadians are nicer than Americans? This wasn’t anything I thought much about until I recently saw an article about how there might be some truth to this when it comes to the language people use on Twitter.  Spoiler alert: Canadians are much politer on Twitter compared to Americans.  

So, when C+R Research was asked to partner with a client on a market research study to better understand Canadians’ and Americans’ perceptions, attitudes, and usage of brands within a specific category, we went into this project with a bias about how the results would turn out. To be honest, the analytic team expected to see lower ratings among the US respondents.  

We conducted the research and started to analyze the results; and to our surprise, the opposite happened--Canadians’ top box scores were lower than Americans. Oh no – not what we were expecting! We immediately suspected that there was something wrong with the data and quickly flagged this finding pending further research since the result was not consistent with what we expected to see from the two countries.   

To better understand the finding, we began our own investigation and ultimately had to offer an explanation to the client. Our investigative research included a thorough literature review which involved reading numerous academic studies and papers on the topic of cultural response styles.  We also reviewed other datasets from studies our colleagues conducted among Americans and Canadians. It’s important to note that this “issue” never surfaced among our colleagues’ research projects as the two countries were never analyzed against each other because that wasn’t an objective of previous studies.

Our literature/academic review gave us antidotal information that Americans may respond higher, but unfortunately, nothing concrete. Where we hit pay-dirt is when we analyzed data from other projects, and low and behold, we found that Canadians were between 11% - 49% less likely to select the top rating versus Americans. The results were crystal clear!  In our studies and across all measures, it was found that Canadians are far less likely than Americans to choose the highest rating on the scale.

It was a relief to better understand what was going on with our own data – and a lesson for those who are going to undertake their own research among Canadians vs. Americans. Don’t be alarmed if you see lower ratings among Canadians – we assume that they might just be more critical or more thoughtful in their brand assessments than are Americans.  Let’s just say the jury is still out on whether Canadians are truly nicer than Americans.

To learn more about this project, read our case study here.

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