The relevance of the Canadian and US market experience public policy considerations

Date of publication: June 15, 1991

Author: Tom Brogan


There is a direct relationship between the degree to which markets differ and the need for market research. Predicting how the EC member states will differ therefore provides insight into the future of market research. Observing what has happened between two close trading partners such as the United States and Canada, and secondly within the Canadian market, can provide an indication of the tendency for markets to either diverge or become more alike. This paper concentrates on the role of public policy and government in affecting differences among these markets. Canada and the United States are alike in many respects although they have very different health care systems. In the U.S. the system is primarily controlled and financed privately whereas the Canadian system is primarily government run. Where the legislative framework permits, governments may implement policies aimed at preserving the local cultural identity or improving economic conditions and which may not be in harmony with national policies. Inherent regional variations will, as a result, continue to exist unless specific action is taken. The public preferences for health care and the ability to pay will be factors establishing the level of spending and the priorities within the health care system. Countries or regions, with higher standards of living generally spend more on health care both in absolute terms and as a proportion of income. Within Canada, provinces have autonomy with respect to health care but differences among programs are minimized through federal budgetary controls. Where no central control exists, provinces have implemented programs which differ from one another. However, all provinces share the concern that new drugs will increase budgets by increasing the market size and shifting sales to higher priced products. Companies must respond to market differences by establishing the appropriate organization. Companies have found it necessary to establish full marketing services in both Canada and the United States, although market differences within Canada are not sufficient to warrant regional marketing divisions.

Tom Brogan


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