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Guest column

Five tips for international brands expanding to Canada Add to ...

When it comes to our big, beautiful country, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to introducing an international brand just doesn’t work. There are several extremely important factors to consider when entering new terrain, especially one as diverse as ours.

But first, a bit of background on our company: First founded in Denmark in 2000 and now headquartered in London, England, Just Eat is the world’s largest and fastest-growing online restaurant and food ordering service and operates in 13 countries worldwide. Canada has grown into one of the largest and fastest growing countries in our international business.

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Yet we’re still learning. For example, with recent launches in Quebec, how do we change our messaging to appreciate the nuances in language and customs of customers in Quebec City versus Montreal?

We have found that there are many important factors to consider when growing a brand in Canada – here are just a few of the most distinguishing factors that we believe have helped us succeed.

1. Understand market differences. Due to the sheer size of the country, the distance between cities and provinces creates a variety of demographics and markets. Factoring in language and cultural differences only adds to the challenge. Quebec is obviously a different market to B.C., and so on. Canadians have different values and beliefs than our neighbours to the south or across the pond, so a marketing campaign that might work in the U.K. may not fly here in Canada. Understanding these differences, even within the Canadian market, and then taking this into account for your sales, marketing and advertising is crucial.

2. Have a solid team. We’ve established a solid team and strong network across the country with employees in every province and over 80 employees in total that work at all hours of the day. When restaurants open in Halifax to when restaurants close in Vancouver, our customer care team in Toronto is ready to answer both customer and restaurant inquiries in a handful of languages. We establish strong partnerships with local delivery services to create a national network that also helps employ hundreds in the food delivery sector.

3. Sustain growth. Once initial success has been attained, don’t stop there. Keep pushing for continued growth in different ways. Since starting in 2009, we’ve chosen to invest in our growth rather than take a profit. We’ve grown our network by investing in small, local Canadian companies like Menu Express in Quebec, Can U Deliver in Saskatoon, Empire Delivery in Calgary and Mobile Maitre D in Winnipeg. These investments help the local businesses and entrepreneurs thrive while helping us expand, safely.

4. Beyond bricks and mortar. Smartphones and tablets are the way of the future, so as an online company, we’ve adopted a mobile-first philosophy. Since launching our apps in late-2013, mobile ordering now accounts for 14 per cent of all orders, a percentage that we know will steadily grow.

5. Adapt with trends. The food industry is constantly changing and as such, it’s important to leave room for innovative growth and be flexible to respond in an effective way. Looking at market penetration and maturity in Canada, we are a few years behind London or New York City (where you can order anything from anywhere, be it cleaning supplies, coffee or pet food, possibly by drone) and we know that we only have plenty of room to grow.

Canadians are just beginning to adopt ordering food online. Like Hotels.com or Expedia years ago, we’re working to fundamentally change the way people order delivery or take-out. Who picks up the phone today to call an airline or hotel to book a flight or hotel stay?

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Todd Masse is the managing director of Just Eat Canada, the country's largest and fastest growing online restaurant and food ordering service. One of Todd's most notable achievements since joining the team has been spearheading the company's expansion throughout Canada

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