The impact of Quebec and Ontario demographic differences on research design

By Kim Storer

Some Canadian statistics are pretty easy to guess especially if you’re a resident.

Though we may generalize and say that Ontario and Quebec are about the same size, the population of Ontario is actually about 70% larger. On the other hand, retail sales in Quebec soared over $10.4 billion last year which was more than 70% greater per capita than in Ontario. There might be more people in Ontario but people in Quebec are spending more.

Respect the Language

listen-1702648_1920But aren’t we all more interested in the odd differences? For instance, in Ontario, 11% of people are bilingual in French and English but in Quebec, 45% are bilingual. What does this mean for marketing researchers? Well, one very important point is that this does NOT mean you can get away with running mall-intercepts or questionnaires only in English.

First, reducing your sample to only those people who speak French introduces a serious bias. Why do those people not speak English? Is it because their newcomer status to the country means they know several languages in addition to French? Is it because they’ve been raised in a rural community with little access to English communities? Is it because they’re simply not interested in veering away from a language that has a historical hold in their family? There is a host of diverging reasons that non-English speakers could be completely different from English speakers and introducing this unknown bias into your research will only serve to complicate and potentially invalidate your results.

Second, researchers need to show respect to the people they are working with. What if we forced all left-handed people to write with their right hands? Or if we forced all Canadians to drive Australian cars where the driver sits on the right side? What if coffee, tea, juice, soda, and enhanced water beverages were removed and you could only ever drink water? These scenarios are all workable but they simply aren’t nice. It’s our obligation as researchers to treat participants as respectfully as possible.

Respect the Household Composition

couple-damoureuxHere’s another example. In Ontario, 14% of couples are in a common-law relationship but in Quebec, 40% of couples are common-law. How would you design a questionnaire with that in mind? If you were defaulting your sample to people who live in Ontario, you might create a marital status question where one of the options is “Married or common-law.” However, now that we know how different it is in Quebec, a better way to handle that question would be to split the answer into two options, “Married” and “Common-law.” This way, any differences in category, purchase, psychographics, or demographics will be discoverable.

And lastly, if we’re going to talk about interesting differences between Ontario and Quebec, these statistics, direct from the Stats Can website cannot be ignored. Ontario is home to more than 3.5 million pigs whereas Quebec is home to more than 4.5 million pigs. Which means Ontario has 0.25 pigs per person, compared to Quebec which is double that at 0.54 pigs per person. Now how’s that for a great conversation starter!

We’d be happy to chat with you about our French and English in-person and online research capabilities in Quebec, and particularly in Montreal. Get in touch with us!

 

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Kim is the Field Director at Canadian Viewpoint. She is the person who makes it all happen, from getting interviewers on the phone, to someone’s front door, and in the shopping mall. And, she makes sure consumers receive products in perfect shape for taste tastes, home tests, and any other kind of test our clients can imagine! Kim enjoys dinner with friends, traveling with her family, and taking her sweet pup for long walks.

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