Buying local: Future prospects for a fast-adapting movement

Presented by the Gouvernement du Québec
As we continue to traverse the pandemic, Québec enterprise is laser focussed on creating a future of economic growth. But the business sector isn’t the only area of society with that goal in mind — the people of Québec have heard the message to buy local both loud and clear.

As we saw at C2 Online — Montréal 2020, creative ideas aren’t in short supply in Québec. At the C2 Mixer Remote titled “Buy local: Innovation via adaptation,” presented by the Gouvernement du Québec, stock was taken of what’s to come in the buy local movement. Catherine Tadros, Bureau du Québec à Toronto’s Chief Representative, hosted a discussion that saw Dominique Brown (CEO, Chocolats Favoris, who rolled up his sleeves for Québec City’s #accentlocal initiative), Geneviève Biron (CEO, Biron Health Group) and Alain Dumas (CEO, Panier Bleu) given a platform to share their experiences as well as their predictions regarding the future of business, all through the lens of buying local.

Here are the highlights…


Adapting — quickly — with purpose

Although the first wave of the pandemic caught Brown and Biron off guard, both were able to respond posthaste and mobilize their teams to come up with solutions.

For Biron Health Group, a company that offers a wide array of medical services to patients, doctors and organizations, one top priority involved transforming their sleep clinic. “We had to imagine how we could transform a model based on a lot of human contact into a digital experience — then create an online store around it,” Biron said. “We got it done in 30 days.”

The response to the onset of the pandemic had to be multipronged, too. “Not only did we need to comply with government requirements, but also with client demands,” shared Brown, who was also able to create and roll out a drive-through service to accommodate his customers while falling in line with new health regulations.

It was crucial for these businesspeople to frequently reassess their approaches and solutions in order to keep operations efficient. For Biron, who used the OKR framework to improve how her company managed objectives, it was important to stay as agile as possible.

“I have to say that during the pandemic, OKR has been a real boon for us. We pushed the envelope, setting objectives monthly instead of quarterly.”


Putting digital transformation at the fore

It goes without saying that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in the business world. With in-person contact limited for the time being, digitally adapting to the new landscape has become a rite of passage for many entrepreneurs.

That said, not all Québec businesses are on the same level. According to Dumas, “We’ve seen that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, given that companies find themselves at different points on the digital-savvy spectrum. There are some that don’t know what Facebook is, while others are currently robotizing their warehouses, and that’s why we can’t talk about technology the same way across corporations.”

For Dumas, it’s important to get companies the information they need so they’re abreast of the many benefits of digital transformation. “It’s a step-by-step process, but the most important thing is that merchants learn to use these e-commerce technologies to optimize their customer relationships. A transaction can actually be seen as a relationship with a client — it’s a way of communicating with them.”


The challenges of tomorrow

Wrapping up the discussion, Tadros asked her guests what lessons they’ve learned over recent months, the ones they believe will have an impact on the future of buying local.

For Brown, it’s important to remain clear-sighted when it comes to the future, and accept that some recent changes are becoming more permanent while fresh changes are on the horizon.

“In Québec, we’re currently accelerating digital transformation and the benefits are undeniable,” he said. “Businesses can’t go on thinking that things will go back to the way they once were. Much to the contrary: we must adapt.”

Dumas reiterates the importance of digital transformation by relating how it allows Québec entrepreneurs to not only promote the buy local movement, but also open up to new opportunities abroad — and much faster than expected.

“I’d say that if there is something good coming out of this pandemic, it’s probably that it will have allowed Québec, which prior to had fallen behind digital-transformation-wise, to jump ahead a few years,” he said. “The pandemic has forced merchants to move forward.”

Biron tied a bow around the discussion by inviting Québec entrepreneurs to lean into their resilience and encouraging them to take a more optimistic view on things.

“It gets easier every day, making the right decisions, being a good leader for our organizations, being someone who embodies positivity — with a bit of perspective.”


Find out more

Watch the fascinating discussion, presented by the Gouvernement du Québec, from start to finish.



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