[Market Analysis] O Canada

Features - PCT News

The Canadian pest control industry is marked by regional differences.

October 7, 2003

Much like the United States pest control market, the pest management industry in Canada is characterized by significant regional differences, according to a recent survey of pest management professionals conducted by Gardex, a leading distributor of pest control products based in Toronto, Ontario.

The survey of Gardex customers was completed for both Eastern and Western Canada with some interesting results for the pest management industry. Major differences existed in the pest complex each group treated, the type of services offered and especially in the type of accounts making up the majority of the business.

PEST COMPLEX. Pest management professionals in Western Canada rated carpenter ants as the number one pest problem, followed by mice and all other ant species. In comparison, the top three treated pests in the East were house mice, cockroaches and ants. (See Table 1 below.)

The major difference between the two regions was the fact that rats – ranked the fourth most serious pest in the West – were seldom mentioned as a problem in the East. Cockroaches, on the other hand, pose more serious pest problems in the East than in the West, as do cluster flies and bird problems.

Even in milder climates, such as British Colombia, termites are not a serious problem in Canada, although there is a modest termite control market in Toronto and other major cities throughout Canada.

Western PCOs indicated that ants are definitely their most challenging pest, noting that good ant control baits and liquids were not as readily available in Canada as the United States, thereby contributing to control failures. Fleas, on the other hand, continue to be a problem throughout Canada, representing a more vibrant market than in the United States, where veterinarians have attracted an increasingly large share of market. (See Table 2 below.)

SERVICES. Another key difference between the two regions was the division of contract accounts versus one-time services. The split in Eastern Canada is 60 percent contract services vs. 40 percent one-time stops, while the reverse was true in Western Canada (40 percent contract services vs. 60 percent one-time stops). (See Table 3 above.) No clear reasons were apparent for this disparity, so future studies will be necessary to shed some additional insights into these market differences.

Although both groups relied heavily on animal and bird control service offerings, PCOs in the West were far more likely to be involved in fumigation work. (See Table 4 below.) In both groups surveyed, only 40 percent were interested in expanding into new services, with odor control/deodorizing services mentioned as the market with the most growth potential. Although expansion into deodorizing services was mentioned most often, the western PCOs were more interested in the fumigation market than their eastern counterparts. This isn’t too surprising given the fact the Canadian grain market is concentrated in western Canada.

CUSTOMER CONTACT. Surprisingly, there was little difference between western Canada and PCOs in the east as far as methods used in attracting new accounts. Both groups rely heavily on referrals and use of the Yellow Pages. Western PCOs did rely more heavily on use of the Internet to target customers, with 45 percent reporting use of Web sites in their sales and marketing efforts. (See Table 5 on page 144.)

INFORMATION, PURCHASING AND ASSOCIATIONS. Although western Canadian PCOs were more likely to use the Internet for marketing, as noted above, they were less likely than those in the east to use the Internet for securing technical information. Twenty-five percent of the western PCOs used the Internet "seldom or rarely" versus 10 percent of their fellow professionals in the rest of the country. This was, in part, due to the fact that little information specific to Canada existed from leading manufacturers supplying the U.S. pest control market. (See Table 6 below.)

Purchasing criteria were consistent across the country with efficacy and safety ranked one and two when making purchasing decisions. The western group did place more emphasis on technical support and sales representation than their eastern counterparts, but only by a slight margin.

In other survey results, more western PCOs were involved in their provincial associations than those in the east (55 percent versus 40 percent), with the number involved in the Canadian Pest Management Association (CPMA) roughly the same. Both groups mentioned the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), as well as several other associations, when asked what other groups they participated in from time to time.

CONCLUSION. It was unanimous across the country that more information specifically targeting the Canadian Pest Management industry is needed. Canada essentially has a non-existent termite market, which reduces the overall size of the industry quite substantially (by 50 percent or greater), and has only 10 percent of the United States population, which also greatly reduces the general pest control market.

But there is still a strong need for more technical information, as well as a desire for more products targeting the most common and difficult-to-control pests found "north of the border."

The author is director of operations, Gardex Chemicals, Toronto, Canada. He can be reached at rpercy@pctonline.com.