I just came back from a trip to Canada, exactly from Montreal, Quebec. If you are interested to discover how to export lighting over the Ocean, this article is for you.
I stayed there for five days: just the time to deal my business and to give me an idea of the characteristics of the lighting market in this part of the world.
Canada, and in particular Quebec, does not take the lead in the ranking of preferred destinations by European Companies promoting their products abroad. The main destination is the States, Canada comes after, much later.
What I understood during this trip, also treasuring a trip to Vancouver made few years ago, is that not only Canada is a market different than US, but there are more markets in it that are really different from each other. If Vancouver is closer for tastes and distributing policies to the North American US market, Quebec is very European.
It’s not just a matter of language – Quebec speaks French, English is the second language, while in the opposite coast French is almost unknown.
Montreal is a European city. The old town, with its narrow, gray stone paved streets, two or three floors brick buildings, sloping roofs, and the cheerful cheer from the restaurants, pubs and cafes that overlook the streets, remembers so much the villages in northern France. The beautiful cathedral of Notre Dame, the heart of the city, remembers much in its architecture the most famous homonymous Parisian cathedral, to which the French emigrants have been inspired, to overcome in the beauty the famous source of inspiration. It should be visited, even for only 10 minutes, but in those 10 minutes you will be catapulted into a different reality, made by peace, light, warmth and mysticism.
There are some signposts along the old harbor to remind you that one century ago here landed not only French, but also many Italians, to look for (and often to find) a bit of that fortune that in their Countries was scarce.
And the lighting?
The lighting market in Quebec is characterized by a strongly distinguished distribution b yquality, price and origin.
On one side there are the large multi-brand stores, specialized in lighting. These are chains, often with franchising stores, which are characterized by being located on the suburbs of the city, in commercial areas, with huge dimensions: 10,000/ 12,000 square feet each. Inside, you are welcomed by a mass of lamps. Suspensions, wall lamps, chandeliers, floor lamps, ceiling lamps, all flat-topped, literally next to each other, sorted by typologies and materials. You find, for example, all metal suspensions, with conical shape, in black color, in the same small area: a few square meters of ceiling from which descend 30 or 40 lamps made by different companies.
The references are thousands, with a cost starting from a few dollars to several thousand.
Incoming, you can find the promotional catalog of the quarter, where the brands here proposed, for about $ 6000 per page, publish their products (as much as possible in the small space at their disposal). The final customer enters and turns to the numerous sales staff present and says “I want this” and the sale is made. To the client is only asked to explain what kind of lamp he wants: then he is accompanied by the seller to the specific area where he sees all the potentially suggestable models and there, nose up, stunned by an over-offer that seems to scream against “it’s not possible that you do not find what you are looking for because there is everything here “, brings home something in a very short time. Each of these shops makes billions and moves thousands of references each day.
What are they selling? They mainly sell Asian products, as well as products coming from US companies that often buy them from Asia. There are present very few European brands.
European brands are absent, while their products are very well present.
How? COPIES: so many, shameless, copies. From the suspensions of Tom Dixon, to the most famous lamps of Foscarini, Flos, Artemide, Panzeri, Kartel, Fontanarte, and I could continue for hours … The copies, more or less well done (many, in truth, quite successful) decorate the shop windows, the shops’ entrance and boast in every corner of these gigantic supermarkets of lighting.
I was literally shocked by such no-respect of intellectual property and copywriting, and I have asked to a lot of people working in lighting market how this is possible. The answer is very simple: Canadian legislation on this matter is almost non-existent. Canada, from this point of view, is a place where contemporary piracy screams and plunders European lighting catalogs, copying everything faithfully, to sell then containers and containers of goods.
The final customers like the contemporary style lamps and our design … it is a shame that they prefer to buy it for a tenth of the price…
Fortunately, however, there are many other customers who, instead, not only love European products, but want to have the originals and they are therefore willing to pay the correct price.
In the center of the city, there are some lighting/ furnishing shops that offer high-end lighting, showing the world’s best design, with special attention to products made in Italy. They are very beautiful showrooms, where it is a pleasure to enter and where shopping becomes an engaging experience.
I visited several of them during my days in Montreal, but three stayed in my heart. If you are in town and want to buy something beautiful for your home, go to:
– The Studio Luminaires, at 5445 Av. De Gaspe ‘: the Italian high-range lighting cup, and not only, presented in a sober but striking way.
–Avantscene, at 600 Boulevard de Maisonneuve: it is a beautiful furniture store that includes the light between the furnishing elements. Exquisite the choice of products displayed, the great availability and professionalism of the man who manages it.
–Latitude Nord, at 4401 boulevard saint laurent: very large store of furniture, which deals with the best of Italian design for every area of the house. Illumination is integrated harmoniously and naturally in all environments, as it should always be. Inevitable!
Any advice on how to export your products to Canada without losing time and money?
Read the second part of the article: I will publish it next week!