The mind of the modern shopper

BrandSpark's Canadian Shopper Study shows that despite gains in the desire for innovation, value is still king.
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While Canadians are still value-minded in store aisles, the desire for new products is becoming an increasingly influential factor in making purchase decisions, according to BrandSpark’s 2015 Canadian Shopper Study.

The survey, done in conjuction with the voting for BrandSpark’s annual Best New Product Awards, asked over 65,000 Canadians identified as having a key role in household purchase decisions about their shopping habits.

The desire for new products is strong among Canadians, with 78% saying they like trying them and 60% saying they believed new products were superior to old ones. Millennials, perhaps unsurprisingly, have the strongest interest in new products, with 85% saying they were interested in trying them, although 69% of seniors say the same.

“Canadians always want to save money and get the best deals, but there’s a little more willingness to pay for that premium,” says Philip Scrutton, director of consumer insight at BrandSpark. “That’s always been there, but you’re seeing a little more openness, which indicates more consumer confidence. And with new channels, there are additional ways consumers are finding to save money on brand name products that they generally want most.”

Value, however, still remains a key consideration for Canadian shoppers, with 87% saying they feel proud when they find good deals while shopping. But, as Scrutton says, consumer confidence may be on the upswing: 65% said they were willing to pay more for a new product if it was an improvement over other selections. And while 87% of respondents said they stock up when their favourite products are on sale, 57% said they will visit multiple retailers to find the best prices, those numbers are down slightly from 91% and 64%, respectively.

“Year after year, that’s the most agreed-to statement,” says Robert Levy, founder and president of BrandSpark, of the pride shoppers feel after finding a deal. “How important it is for Canadians to save money and feel like they’ve saved money and the emotional connection that has, it explains this whole business of studying flyers and searching for discounts.”

Although still a small portion of the total, using mobile devices is slowly rising, with 13% saying they use it as part of their regular shopping routine, up from 7% last year. The most common use (58% of respondents) is to take photos of potential purchases, with 48% comparing prices to different retailers and 45% checking digital flyers for sales or promotions. A small portion (20%) said getting that information in-store changed their intended purchase. Digital flyers are also gaining momentum, with 62% of shoppers reporting checking them regularly, compared to 57% last year.

Even though more shoppers are bringing their smart devices shopping, the numbers for old-fashioned shopping habits are down only slightly; 84% of Canadians still say they use written shopping lists (88% in 2014), with 91% checking store flyers regularly (95%).

For brands looking to increase consumer trust, the key seems to be in openness and helpfulness: 55% of respondents said their trust in a brand increases when detailed product information is available, with 62% saying their trust is increased by good customer care. Doing CSR work and donating to charitable causes that aren’t necessarily related to the brand increased trust among 64% of respondents. Those actions outranked things like consistent pricing (49%) and offering high-value promotions (43%).

Scrutton says that searching for value often outranks brand loyalty, but the growing importance of innovation and improvement can be utilized by marketers looking for that edge.

“They’re not strictly loyal to any one brand, although they want quality and benefits,” he says. “Offering them something new and exciting can allow you to keep that edge. Or, if you already have what they want, keep reminding them of the value you deliver and the trust you’ve built.”

Image courtesy Shutterstock

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