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Quebec is a rich and innovative province. Our companies offer products and services with very high added value. However, our province is a relatively small market and competition is fierce.

Exporting should be considered relatively quickly in the growth of a company. But how and where? Here is a quick overview for companies that are starting to export.

The first "export" market that should be considered is Ontario. Even though it's not exporting per say, since we are remaining in the same country, many of the actions that must be undertaken to export are done here as well, especially concerning marketing and logistics aspects of the company; market analysis, adapting the communication tools for the local language and culture, delivery management, selection of a distribution strategy, etc ... Although there are no customs to go through, the exercise requires the same rigor and is an excellent first step in the exporting process. 

Thereafter, our great neighbor in the south offers an irresistible appeal. My experience is limited, as it is with a small business, so if you have any additional comments, thank you for sharing. For SMEs, the competition is fierce and the shelf space is highly coveted (companies around the world want to be in the US) so the conditions imposed by major US companies are often hugely in their favor if your products or services are poorly differentiated. An alternative is to do business with smaller companies (either local or regional) and to establish a more balanced partnership. Of course the sales volume will be smaller, but so will be your risk.

Another market that is less "popular" than the United States for Quebec companies and that offers a little less competition (although things have changed greatly in the last 10 years) is Mexico. Depending on the type of products or services you offer, Mexican distribution channels are either highly developed or atomized. But in any case, there is a very real interest from Mexicans and Mexican companies for what our Quebec companies have to offer.

There are of course many European markets and others worldwide that can be very interesting for your products or services, but we will focus on North America in this article.

How can you access these markets? There are several options available.

The Internet is a great way to open the doors of any market and it is a great tool to see if what you are offering generates interest.

Subsequently, there are trade shows that are organized either locally or outside and Quebec as well as Canada have showcases which allow SMEs to be on site at lower costs for the most popular events. There are also trade missions which are organized by various organizations such as chambers of commerce, CEGEPs, and other private or governmental organisations.

Finally, you can decide to do business with a local manufacturer's agent, or one from the country / region targeted, or with a trade representative who can find you potential partners.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me.


Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant