Insight
  • Don’t like the price tag on that pair of pants you’ve been eyeing or what the grocery store is asking for a loaf of bread? A new report says the cost of those and other goods could soon drop as many Canadian retailers prepare to slash prices to lure consumers.

    The Canadian Retail Insights Report, released by credit card company American Express, says 48 per cent of Canadian retailers surveyed plan to drop prices this year, up from 35 per cent when they first did the survey in 2012. It says 83 per cent of Canadian retailers plan to offer sales, promotions or discounts to attract customers.

    The survey, conducted by Nielsen between March 17 and April 3, included 375 businesses across Canada that sell products such as gas, groceries, pharmaceuticals, food and clothing. Among those industries, 89 per cent of general retailers said sales and promotions are a top strategy to promote customer loyalty, as well as 86 per cent of apparel companies and 85 per cent of grocery stores.

    "Canadian

    Read More »from Canadian stores set to drop prices to keep customers
  • We can thank Walt Disney and his cabal of adorable cartoon characters for instilling in us one of the primary tenents by which many of us continue to live today. Call it the Thumperian Principle: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
    You remember how it goes.

    But according to a new workplace study out of the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, the advice from the Disney briar patch may be causing more harm than good. Turns out, being ignored at work is worse for our physical and mental well-being than verbal abuse, intimidation, humiliation and even sabotage.

    People who say they have experienced ostracism in the office are significantly more likely to report a degraded sense of workplace belonging and commitment, a stronger intention to quit their job, and a larger proportion of health problems, the study found. At the same time, managers and staff at the 90 Canadian companies surveyed told researchers that they felt ostracizing behaviour

    Read More »from The quietest, most vicious kind of workplace bullying
  • Admit it. You don’t have to be a teenager to fantasize about celebrity life, and what it would be like to have the kind of money hauled in by the likes of Madonna or Beyonce.

    But, given the kind of compensation packages paid out to top Canadian chief executives last year, perhaps we might be better off focusing our daydreams on the astonishing earnings of corporate CEOs.
    New data released by the consulting firm Global Governance Advisors, and published by The Globe and Mail, has found that compensation packages paid to CEOs are once again trending rapidly upwards, following a setback in 2008/09.

    Chief executives at the helm of the country’s 100 largest companies saw their total compensation climb by 11 per cent in 2013, which marks the fourth straight year of pay gains, The Globe reported.
    Last year’s median compensation was $5.6 million, just below executive pay levels recorded in 2007 and about 115 times the average wage of ordinary working Canadians.

    According to Statistics Canada,

    Read More »from CEO Salaries: What Canada’s top bosses earned in 2013
  • The expression “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” has never been more relevant in today’s society hooked on around-the-clock media and platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

    Opinions are being formed more quickly than ever and, according to a new survey, those first impressions often stick, which should serve as a warning to businesses and government in times of crisis.

    In the event of a public relations setback (of which Canada has had its fair share recently), 61 per cent of Canadians say they form their opinion less than a day, says the StrategyCorp Reputation Report.

    Of that 61 per cent, 17 per cent form their opinion immediately, 23 per cent within a few hours and the rest within 24 hours. Another 31 per cent say they take a position within a week.

    And, once that opinion is formed, nearly two-thirds of Canadians hold on to their opinion on the issue, even after hearing the organization’s response.

    The StrategyCorp report, conducted by Innovative

    Read More »from In crisis, a brand’s reputation can be destroyed in less than day: report
  • He still calls himself the Wolf of Wall Street, but Jordan Belfort claims he’s a changed man.

    “What I did was wrong,” the notorious former stockbroker, now 51 and a successful motivational speaker, told an eager audience of business professionals in Toronto earlier this month.

    “The mistake I made back then is I lost my ethics, and any gains you make without ethics are going to be short-lived, I promise you.”

    What he did, of course, is the stuff of Hollywood legend. Belfort authored a best-selling memoir detailing his own misdeeds in the 1990s when, as head of the New Jersey-based brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, he helped to swindle investors out of more than $200 million.  Last year, the real-life financial drama hit the silver screen, grossing more than $300 million at the box office and picking up five Oscar nominations under the direction of Martin Scorsese, including Best Motion Picture of the Year.

    Belfort claims he hasn’t made a penny off his story since selling the movie right

    Read More »from Wolf of Wall Street Jordan Belfort back making millions again
  • It could be time to start gathering up that Canadian Tire money you have stuffed in the kitchen drawer and your car’s glove compartment: The mock currency Canadians sometimes take for granted is garnering some new attention, and from Americans, of all people.

    A report from a pair of New York-based analysts at Moody’s Investors Service says Canadian Tire money “could almost be described as a ‘sub-fiat’ currency,” because of its acceptance at some retailers beyond Canadian Tire.

    The Moody’s report is largely about Target’s troubles in Canada, but its flattering description of Canadian Tire – and its Canadian Tire money loyalty program - is what has people talking.

    Moody’s calls Canadian Tire, “one of Canada’s most powerful retailers,” and a “concept that is completely foreign to U.S. retail.” That includes the five-cent, 10-cent, 25-cent, 50-cent, $1 and $2 bills first introduced at gas bars in 1958.

    The report goes on to discuss Canadian Tire’s “hold” over Canadian consumers as being

    Read More »from Canadian Tire money borders on legal tender: Moody’s
  • Consumers who never shopped at fashion retailer Boutique Jacob Inc. may still be mourning its bankruptcy for what it signals for the future of Canada’s retail sector.

    Jacob wasn’t a discount retailer, nor was it a luxury brand, but instead a middle player appealing to both budget and fashion-conscious women interested in its casual work attire and lingerie.

    But the continuous bifurcation of the Canadian retail landscape – with high-end stores on one side and discounters on the other - is starting to tear apart the industry. That has negative consequence for companies such as Montreal-based Jacob.

    “I think there will be more victims of this going forward, “ says Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet.

    “We are moving towards a market that will be more barbell shaped, where we have strong activity at the discount end … and luxury performing well on the other. It’s the vacuous middle of the market that’s struggling, and I suspect will continue to do so.”

    For example, he’s betting Sears

    Read More »from Jacob’s shuttering points to split in Canada’s retail industry
  • Barbara Annis, a leader in gender-intelligence research, isn’t afraid of stirring the pot, especially if it helps to create a world where women are more equally represented in the C-suite.

    As we speak, she's driving down a street somewhere in Copenhagen after delivering a talk to the city's chamber of commerce on ‘cracking the code’ on gender equality.

    It seems even in a country as progressive as Denmark, companies struggle with gender-balance issues. Women make up only about 12 per cent of that country’s corporate executive force.

    “It’s insane,” Annis said of the disappointing numbers.

    That doesn’t stop her from imagining a very different future for women. Indeed, her latest revolutionary proposal calls for business minds around the globe to embrace the concept of co-gender leadership. That is, a woman and man running a company with equal responsibility, whether in the role of chief executive, chief financial or chief information officer.

    The discussion is directly linked to the

    Read More »from Co-gender CEOs the new power couple?
  • Are you one of those people who view their work as “just a job?”

    Chances are the person in the car or the bus seat next to you on the way to work feels the same way.

    Almost 60 per cent of workers don’t consider their occupation a career, according to a recent survey from Careerbuilder.ca.

    While the survey may be intended to help lure people into searching for a new job at Careerbuilder.ca, it also paints a decent picture of how employees feel sitting in their offices each day. It might also offer some advice on employers who want to motivate their staff – regardless of whether they’re working in their dream job or not.

    Those who don’t like their jobs blame their boss, the pay and complain that they aren’t challenged or valued at the office. On the flip side, those who love their jobs cite the people they work with, the pay, their boss and feeling valued at work as the main reasons.

    "Offering frequent recognition, merit bonuses, training programs and clearly defined career paths are

    Read More »from Most Canadians feel their work is ‘just a job’: survey
  • Let’s put aside our troubles for the moment over the creeping wealth gap in this country and what that will mean for democracy and our ability to have a say in the political decision-making process, shall we?

    Let’s talk instead about money and some of the sinfully delicious ways the filthy rich can spend their mountains of treasure (when they aren’t rolling around in a bed of gold and diamonds).

    The Four Seasons is the latest to reach into the global luxury market with a brand new product to tempt the well-heeled to part with their fortunes. The hotel chain announced this week the launch of the Four Seasons Jet, a specially retrofitted Boeing 757 and the industry’s first “fully branded private jet experience.”

    Flight delays? Over-booking? Please. These are business-class problems.

    For about $130,000 per person (a mere $118,000 per person for double occupancy), the Four Seasons jet will transport up to 52 guests on specially tailored journeys to destinations around the world, complete

    Read More »from Four Seasons’ private jet experience takes luxury to a new level
  • Dear Mom and Dad: When I grow up, I want to be a nostalgist.

    Said no child, ever.

    Wait a few years, though, and that scenario is likely to change.

    By 2030, job titles that may seem bizarre today will be among the most-sought after careers in the labour market, according to the Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan.

    FYI. A nostalgist is an interior designer who specializes in recreating memories for wealthy seniors.

    “Rather than settling for a typical ‘retirement village’ experience where everyone’s apartment looks the same, the wealthy elderly of 2030 will have the luxury of living in a space inspired by their favourite decade. Nostalgists recreate the setting of their preferred time and place for seniors wishing to relive their past, from a small-town 1970s living room to a 1980s university dorm room,” the CST website states.

    The list of future jobs also includes titles such as Tele-Surgeon (operating on people using robotic tools, rather than human hands), a Localizer (helping communities

    Read More »from Jobs of 2030 may include ‘Rewilder’ and ‘Nostalgist’: report
  • It’s human nature for kids to make different choices than their parents. But when it comes to the influential Millennial crowd, the children of the Baby Boomers, companies would be wise to pay close attention.

    This is particularly true in the restaurant business, where retail analysts from RBC Capital Markets have found that this group of 18-to-34 year-olds has “dramatically reduced” trips to restaurants – and it’s not just the ones without jobs.

    The RBC report says Millennials have cut back on restaurants visits by 21 per cent over the last seven years in the U.S., and experts in Canada believe the trend is similar up here.

    “While some of this is likely due to macro factors, much of the change seems to be due to the different values of the Millennial Generation,” says the report.

    Those values include a search for food that is better quality, yet still comes quickly, and the restaurant has to have some entertainment value (think iPads on the tables and interactions through social

    Read More »from Millennials shunning restaurants — even the ones with jobs
  • As if the cost of a higher education weren’t crippling enough; university is poised to rival your first mortgage for expense supremacy. If living away from home, the average cost of an undergraduate degree is expected to reach $150, 000 by the year 2031, according to a TD economics report.

    And despite the staggering costs to come, nearly one-third of Canadian parents with a child under the age of 18 are not saving for their education.

    The reasons are wide ranging. For one, 41 per cent of parents included in the survey say saving for retirement plays a significant role in their ability to save for their children’s education. And 50 per cent of parents cited in the survey say costs associated with recreational activities and the other costs of raising a child -- think daycare and vacations -- impact their ability to save for future education.

    “According to data from the Canada Student Loans Program, students in kindergarten today will be paying $13,100 per year in tuition fees by the

    Read More »from Cost to attend university, live away from home to be $150,000 by 2031: TD
  • Torontonians must be honoured that their city was recently named the most resilient in the world, but then again, they already knew that.

    After all, Canada’s largest city just struggled through one of the worst winters in its history and it has a controversial and now world-renowned mayor who, despite so much controversy, vows to carry on.

    But it’s the ability to rebound from disasters of the past that helped the city earn its new title at the top of the list, as well as its forward-looking plans for the future when it comes to transportation and infrastructure.

    It’s also in a good geographic position. Despite some harsh winters and hot summers, there’s little worry about earthquakes that can cause property damage, and hurricanes are extremely rare.

    “Toronto has a great deal going for it,” said Richard Barkham, group research director at Grosvenor, a privately owned property group that conducted the resiliency report.

    It studied 50 cities around the world and judged them based on their

    Read More »from Toronto ranked as world’s most resilient city
  • Congratulations on your new job! Too bad it's nothing like you expected.

    Around 43 per cent of those in the workforce say the job they signed up for requires duties they did not anticipate, falling well outside what was outlined in the interview process, according to a survey from staffing firm Robert Half.

    Toronto resident Nitish Bissonauth, 20, is one example. As a new employee with Rogers Publishing, a division of Rogers Communications, Bissonauth was hired as a customer service representative, but once the company found out he was bilingual, he eventually found himself doing more and more translating on the job.

    While not part of the position he was hired for, Bissonauth turned the new duties into a value-add for his next career move.

    “On my resume I am able to put both customer-service representative and translator and that is a plus,” he says.

    But it seems language isn't the only variable leaving workers feeling unprepared in the work place. Employees have been caught off guard

    Read More »from Employees feeling duped by unexpected job duties: survey
  • Retailers continue to ramp up their service and selection in the fight for Canadian consumer dollars, but it’s also coming at a great cost to some companies.

    Online retailer Amazon.ca said this week it has further expanded its Canadian online store to include musical instruments and wireless accessories.

    The addition of these two categories, which includes guitars, oboes and smartphone cases, ups the number of new offerings from Amazon.ca to 16 over the past year, including more recently auto accessories and grocery items.

    “We’re committed to delivering an unparalleled selection of everything our customers need – all in one place,” Amazon.ca country manager Alexandre Gagnon said in announcing the extra categories.

    The move isn’t that surprising given how much more Canadians are shopping online these days, but it comes amid an ongoing shakeup in the retail landscape that intensified when Target first came to the country last year.

    While Target’s Canadian experience has been rocky, other

    Read More »from Retailers in Canada pump up services, selection as fierce competition continues
  • Julie Kraulis Toronto artist Julie Kraulis wasn’t thinking about her small business when she hastily entered an elite poster contest run by ESPN and the All-England Club; the folks behind the venerable grass courts where the Wimbledon Championships are held.

    An avid tennis fan, Kraulis, 30, was caught up in the excitement of the game and the epic chance to sit courtside at one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events should she be chosen the contest winner.

    It was only when her poster – an elegant oil on wood panel -- was shortlisted for the grand prize did she fully realize the publicity potential for her career. Since learning the good news earlier this month, traffic to her professional website has swelled from a couple of dozen views per day well into the hundreds, and growing, with admirers from around the globe sharing her artwork over social media and tweeting her notes of support.

    Not bad for someone who admittedly went into this with zero expectations beyond having a bit of fun.

    “This

    Read More »from No marketing budget? How entrepreneurs find free publicity

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