What drives Canadian purchase behaviour?

The latest BrandSpark study offers insight into what motivates shoppers and grabs their attention.
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Value continues to be more of an influence on Canadian shopping behaviour than convenience or brand loyalty, according to the 2016 BrandSpark Canadian Shopper Study.

The survey, now in its thirteenth year, polled more than 48,000 Canadians on their attitudes towards shopping and the factors that influence their habits.

Shoppers like value, with 87% saying they feel proud when they get value for their money and that they stock up when a favourite product goes on sale. They also don’t mind working to find value: 75% say they review things like flyers and promotions before shopping, and only 23% said it is not worth their time to shop around for the lowest prices and 30% said clipping coupons is too much trouble.

Only 35% said the convenience of one-stop shopping was more appealing than having the lowest prices.

Even though 66% said they try new products from brands they trust most, only 45% said they consider themselves to be loyal to brand name products, and 60% said they aren’t concerned with a brand name as long as it delivers what they are looking for.

Only 23% said they are willing to pay more for organic products and 32% said they would pay more for products that are environmentally friendly.

The most common shopping trips are regular grocery shopping trips, with 54% saying they most recently made this type of trip, with 39% saying they made a “small basket” trip for only a few needed items. Shoppers over the age of 50 were slightly more likely than other age groups to have made a “small basket” trip most recently, with shoppers in Quebec far less likely to have made one than those in other provinces.

When it comes to how shoppers chose which retailer they visited during their last trip, 29% of shoppers put proximity to home and good prices in their top two reasons. The reasons varied depending on the type of trip, though: 20% cited proximity as their top reason for small basket items (compared to 15% for regular grocery trips), while 16% of those who made regular grocery trips said it was because it was their regular store and 15% said it was because of prices (10% and 11% for small basket trips, respectively). Loyalty programs were also less influential in the decision-making process for small-basket trips.

Seventy percent of those making small basket trips spend $50 or less, although that varies by retailer. Those making a quick trip to Costco spent $103 and those at Walmart spent $70, due in part to non-food and beverage items being purchased alongside grocery.

Those making regular grocery trips were also more likely to prepare in advance with things like making a shopping list, checking flyers or looking for special offers. During their last shopping trip, 41% of shoppers made a purchase they weren’t planning on making, regardless of basket size.

During their last shopping trip, 21% of respondents checked out promotional displays and only 8% sampled products.

While 79% of shoppers like trying new products and 67% say they will pay more for one if they think it’s better than what is available, only 47% actively seek out these products, and 36% say they will buy a product that’s advertised as being “new and improved.” Flyers are the biggest source of awareness for new products, at 67%, with 45% saying TV ads and 28% saying social media. Outdoor ads only drove awareness for 9% of respondents, with street-level ads at 7% and transit ads at 6%.

The most popular loyalty program among Canadians is Air Miles, with 78% of respondents saying they were a member, followed by Shopper’s Optimum at 62% and PC Plus at 54%. However, Air Miles and PC Plus are in a dead heat when it comes to which program Canadians consider their most valuable at 25%, followed by Optimum at 16%. Half of of respondents say they don’t use an app related to a loyalty program.

When it comes to e-commerce, 71% of respondents say they regularly shop online, but only 8% say they do so for grocery. The main reason for not doing so, at 72%, was a desire to see what they are buying, followed by concerns about the quality of fresh foods they’d receive at 54%. Among those that do buy groceries online, Walmart Pickup was the most popular service at 39%, followed by Loblaws Click & Collect at 24%, although 75% also say they would prefer services that deliver directly to the home, as opposed to picking up at a local store.

Roughly half of Canadians go to Walmart at least occasionally for food and beverage products, followed by Costco at 36%. When it comes to the ones visited the most often, though, No Frills was the most cited at 11%, followed by Real Canadian Superstore at 10%. The most popular reasons cited for their preference in retailer was proximity to their home (48% of respondents putting it in their top three reasons), followed by lowest prices (33%) and having everything they need in one place (29%).

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