Beyond Moose, Mounties and Mountains

With the second largest landmass in the world, Canada’s geographic charms had had been put front and center in its travel advertising for over 60 years. The problem was that travellers couldn’t see themselves in these beautiful and stark locations and didn’t know what there was to do after they enjoyed the view.

In developing Brand Canada for the Canadian Tourism Commission, we reviewed more than 10 years of research, held collaborative workshops with more than 400 travel professionals across Canada, and conducted new research in seven countries. What emerged was the idea that Canada was a destination with real strengths in its natural assets, but its position was out of step and underdeveloped in terms of the more experiential aspects of travel that are the key drivers for consumers in determining where they spend their dollars.

As an outcome of the brand consultation process, it was decided that instead of creating a brand promise that sought to “define” Canada, the real opportunity lay in sharing the hopes and dreams of the traveller: Canada would become the one destination that inspired and shared in the consumer’s love of discovery.

“Canada. Keep Exploring” encapsulates that promise and has formed an integral part of the CTC partners’ strategic planning, with Provincial Marketing Organizations, Destination Marketing Organizations and individual operators stepping forward to align themselves with the CTC’s marketing communications. The approach behind “Keep Exploring” has helped to reshape the Canadian industry’s focus from tourism product to travel experiences, and resulted in the Canada brand moving from number 12 to number one in FutureBrand’s country brand index.

Our work in bringing relevance to the Canada travel branded continued with the development of the ‘Explorer Quotient’ (EQ). Employing Environics Research Group’s social values research experience, we sought to segment universal travellers into ‘tribes’ that shared the same attitudes and approaches to travel. Through this approach we identified nine segments, each of which had different expectations of travel. Additional research identified the segments that represented the most potential to be customers of a Canadian experience and brought focus to the Commission’s marketing efforts. EQ allows the CTC to begin the conversation with consumers, demonstrating a clear understanding to them of their vacation desires, and allowing the CTC to serve up relevant travel experiences.

In addition, the ‘Explorer Quotient’ has enabled the CTC to be more effective and efficient in its marketing approach and continues to develop as a tool that enhances the CTC’s CRM strategy. It, too, has been adopted by many of its industry partners and won the Best in Class award from the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association.