Americanization is a term that has been around for many years and had different connotations at different periods of time. First used as a word associated with the integration and assimilation of immigrants to the United States by adopting American beliefs and values, Americanization now refers to the making something be it a person, a business or a culture “American” in character.
Though we don’t realize it Americanization has been a constant in our culture, lives and businesses for a significant period of time. The American influence plays a lead role in the Canadian economy as the United States is Canada’s largest trading partner, accounting for $544.0 billion in two way goods trade last year. Conversely China is the United States’ largest trading partner with $578.6 billion of two way goods trade in 2016.
The trade relationship between Canada and the US is not an interdependent one as Canada relies more heavily on the United States than they do on us. In fact a significant percentage of Canada’s provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is dependent on the US. For example 49% of Ontario’s GDP is dependent upon trade with the United States. Comparatively trade with Canada exceeds 10% of annual economic output in only 2 out of 50 states, Michigan and Vermont. As such, anything that affects the United States’ economy will affect Canada, whether beneficial or detrimental; as the saying goes when America coughs Canada catches the cold. Here are a few examples that illustrate the Americanization of the Canadian market
For many years Black Friday, the day after American thanksgiving was observed solely in the United States. This however did not keep Canadian shoppers from crossing the border in an attempt to snap up some of the savings. However with the weaker loonie the number of bargain hunters making the trek to the States has dwindled and in an effort to keep Canadian shoppers in Canada, local retailers offered up their own version of Black Friday. Although not as widespread as the traditional Boxing Day sales the Black Friday sale phenomenon slowly but surely made its way in to Canada. Though we are borrowing a bit of the American culture this aspect of Americanization stands to benefit Canadian consumers who can take advantage of sales before and after Christmas.
Live Canadian Buy American
Although the United States has a larger population and consumer base, Canada has quite a few offerings in the way of brands. Names such as Roots, Tim Hortons, Lululemon, Canada Goose, Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws are successful Canadian brands. However there is still a large appeal for American brands in the Canadian market. For example Tim Hortons is synonymous with Canada but the coffee shop is viewed as more of a discount brand rather than a truly Canadian business with Starbucks still playing a major role in the coffee market. Even though Starbucks offers less bang for your buck with their $5 lattes and fancy baristas the brand has still managed to carve out a market for themselves in Canada. American brands may not be the most economical but they certainly have appeal in Canada; an example of just how Americanized our market is. We have home grown alternatives but we still choose to buy American.
The American entertainment industry has a significant influence on Canadian culture and business. Almost all of the movies, music and entertainers we enjoy in Canada are products of the US. Though Canada can boast of artists such as Celine Dion, Drake, Shania Twain and even Justin Bieber, the fact that they are indeed Canadian seems relatively unknown and unnoticed on a global level. When it comes to movies, Hollywood dominates the Canadian box office as Canadian films gain little notoriety aside from previews at smaller film festivals. In 2011, 50% of Canadians thought American movies and TV shows were superior to those made in Canada. Hollywood does have its appeal and offers a wide range of movies but it is far from being the world’s largest film industry. While American films may dominate the Canadian movie market, Bollywood, India’s film industry has far surpassed it in its appeal and reach. Our loyalty to Hollywood is another example of how Americanization has influenced the choices Canadian consumers make.
Praveeni Perera is an experienced entrepreneur having co-founded a training and consulting company catering to clients around the world. Her area of expertise is international expansions. You can connect with her via Twitter or LinkedIn