Find Franchise Lovers

The surprising locations of consumers who love to shop at chains

Written by Deborah Aarts

Illustration: Remie Geoffroi

Whether serving burgers or selling auto parts, the cachet of a nationally recognized brand props up the fortunes of franchisors and their franchisees. Many shoppers simply prefer to buy products and services from familiar names. Add convenient locations and you have a winning franchise formula—so long as these coveted consumers are within your reach.

And that depends heavily on where you’re based. According to an analysis by Environics Analytics done exclusively for PROFIT (drawn from data from BBM RTS Canada), the biggest franchise lovers in Canada tend to be found not in giant metropolises or even their suburbs but rather in smaller cities. Across the board, about one-quarter of Canadians can be classified as franchise fans—that is, consumers who frequent several of Canada’s most popular franchises. But the concentration is much higher in modest-sized centres such as Lévis and Gatineau, Que., and St. Catharines, Ont. Residents of these cities are 20% more likely to frequent chains than typical Canadians—franchisors will find a warm welcome here. (Rounding out the top 10 franchise-friendly communities are the Ontario cities of Cambridge, Hamilton, Greater Sudbury, Oshawa and Barrie, as well as Quebec City and Laval, Que.)

Who are these franchise lovers? They tend to be younger (41% are under 44) and more educated (46% have gone to college or university) than the national average, and they’re also more likely to have a family and a home. They have an above-average household income of $96,361 and tend to hold professional jobs. They include a slightly higher percentage of immigrants compared to the Canadian average—26% are foreign-born.

Common wisdom would peg franchises to do best in sprawling, densely populated urban centres, but the data indicate that some of Canada’s largest cities have below-average populations of franchise aficionados. Vancouverites fall 29% below the national average; Torontonians, 15%. Elsewhere, the municipalities that are coolest on franchises are clustered in B.C.’s Lower Mainland (Richmond, Burnaby) and Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe (Mississauga, Richmond Hill). Independents, now you know where to go.

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This story is part of PROFIT’s 2014 Opportunity Guide, full of trends, ideas and markets you can jump on right now

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