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Why Canadians are paying more at Target Add to ...

Were there other parts of Canada where the brand was not familiar?
Brand recognition [7] in Quebec was about 20 points lower, both two years ago and today. So as of today in Quebec, we’rein the low 70s. We started out in the low 50s. Quebec has such a unique culture—the smaller grocery store trips, the smaller, boutique-type stores. We did a lot of work in Quebec. We’ve never had to translate our brand into a different language before, ever in the history of our company. We don’t say “Expect More. Pay Less” in Quebec. It’s “Trouvez Mieux. Payez Moins.” We’ve never had to do that before.

We also use the term “guest” at Target, because we think it’s an honour to have you in our stores. And so I thought, okay, what is guest in French [8]? Well, there are all sorts of different words—invité, visiteur, client. Invité was the most comparable to guest, so what do we think about invité? Well, boy, that’s a really personal word to Quebeckers; I mean,that’s like you inviting me over for a personal dinner. So I thought, okay, gosh, maybe that doesn’t make sense.

So what was the resolution?
We are going with client. I struggled with client, because it didn’t sound intimate to me. It sounds like there’s not that emotional connection, which is what “guest” demonstrates to me on the English side. Quebec was such a big one for us because people have gone into Quebec and they’ve failed [9]. We were deeply committed to not letting that happen and, as part of that, we had to make sure that we took advice from the right people and the right partners.

What about elsewhere in the country?
When we went out to Vancouver, where there’s a big Asian demographic, one of the things we heard was, “Just make sure you don’t have everything for tiny little people.” Because the size demographic is different—there are a lot more extra-smalls, rather than a balance between small, medium, large and extra-large.

So some retailers are going too far?
Yes, they’re going too far. We can’t just swing the pendulum too far and think, okay, we’ve solved it for Vancouver. And obviously the climate is different in Vancouver—it rains [10] a lot, so you need rain boots and rain gear and umbrellas. You don’t need the giant winter parkas, but you might need insulated rain jackets. And then you come to the Prairie provinces, and it’s just bitterly cold. One of my son’s friends from hockey moved to Fort McMurray.I used to think Edmonton was the North Pole. You know where [11] Fort McMurray is?

So your kids play hockey?
We are deeply, deeply invested in that game, I tell you. My two boys play rep and house. Being American, I didn’t know what that meant before I came here in August of 2011. Hockey trials started three weeks after we got here. I didn’t know what the difference was between rep and house. They had to kind of educate us.

How often do you get to the rink?
I’ll tell you, every single game. I don’t miss them, ever. The only exception to that is if I’m travelling to Minneapolis. I’m not going to miss our board of directors meeting for a hockey game, even though that is, without question, my number one priority.

What level are they at?
Triple A and double A.

Wow, you’re a serious family.
Then they both play triple A baseball. So, here we are, like, okay, we love them playing sports, but it is an absolute lifestyle choice. We’ve cancelled vacations. We didn’t go skiing last year because the kids were in the playoffs. We’re at the rink 10 or 12 times a week. I grew up in Minnesota. So did my wife. Our kids were born there, and for us to come here and not know a soul in Oakville, which is a great community, and to have the kids immediately get invested into these sports and make the teams they wanted to make and all of a sudden they have 16 best friends...I mean, they love it here. They absolutely love it, and for me, it’s like okay, this is home. This feels right.

What time do you get in to the office?
I’m usually in between 6:30 and 7. Now, if I have a late hockey game—because I still play hockey myself, twice a week—I get in later, maybe 8 o’clock.

Oh, wow, you’re busy.
Then I’m home for dinner every night by 6:15 or 6:30. We didn’t have hockey last night, and my oldest said, “I love this”—the fact that we have family dinners and we all five sit around and talk about what they learned, which somehow is always the hardest question for a kid to answer. When I see my kids react that way and at that age, oh my God, how could I not be home for dinner every night?

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Follow on Twitter: @MarinaStrauss

 
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