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Is your Brand Patriotic?

When dealing with consumer facing, heavily branded products, services and celebrity lines, it is important to stand out in the marketplace.  Ensuring that your company’s brand resonates with real and potential consumers is critical.  Being strategic in determining all of the different factors that evoke an emotional response by the consumer is tantamount.

In today’s globalized society, where manufacturing is oftentimes outsourced to overseas destinations, maintaining a strong connection to Canada can be a welcome point of differentiation in the marketplace.  A Made in Canada or Product of Canada product label can inject a sense of patriotic pride into the brand.  Consumers become aware that their money is being immediately invested into the Canadian economy.  But as Froese Law is always keen to demonstrate, laws apply.

What is the Governing Legislation?

This is bit of a trick question.  Canadian laws do not require businesses to incorporate any patriotic labelling that includes reference to Canada.  Indeed, the Competition Act, Food and Drugs Act, Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Textile Labelling Act do not require that any country of origin of a product be identified.  They do, however, prohibit any false and/or misleading information on packaging and/or labelling of product.  So where a business chooses to include a patriotic product claim, that claim must abide by government set guidelines.

What are the Governing Guidelines?

The governing guidelines depend on what type of product you are selling in Canada.  The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Textile Labelling Act apply to non-food products.  The Competition Bureau enforces infringements of these Acts and has created its own guidelines for enforcement of patriotic labelling claims.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency governs infractions of the Food and Drugs Act as it relates to food products.  Although the Canadian Food Inspection Agency followed the Competition Bureau’s guidelines in the past, it has since created its own guidelines.

How Canadian is your Claim?

Made in Canada and Product of Canada are the two types of patriotic claims that can be referenced and they hold different thresholds.  A Product of Canada claim has a higher threshold of Canadian content (98%), whereas a Made in Canada claim has a lower threshold of 51%, as long as the Made in Canada claim is accompanied by a qualifier.

Where Do you Stand?

There are a lot of factors that go into determining whether going patriotic matters.  First of all, there’s the economic consideration.  Will manufacturing your product in Canada drive up costs?  Will a patriotic claim sufficiently manipulate consumer purchasing behaviours so as to override the increased production costs?

If corporate social responsibility is a key component of your brand, a patriotic product claim may very well be in full alignment with your brand.  For example, your carbon footprint will be lower; your holistic contribution to the Canadian economy will be higher; the likelihood of avoiding human rights/labour rights violations will increase.  All in all, what do you value?