Canadians driven by ‘need’ for habitual purchases: Study

A Microsoft retail study of the path to purchase for frequently purchased items found that 78% of shoppers only buy a product when in need.

Microsoft has released a study on the habitual product path-to-purchase. Examining small, everyday items consumers purchase repeatedly, the study questioned 6,000 consumers across five markets, including Canada, the U.S., U.K., China and Brazil.

After establishing four key areas of purchase influence (“How the product fits into my life,” “Do I like the way it looks and feels,” “Am I making the right choice” and “How do the facts stack up”), the study found that marketers who sell habitually used products have a big opportunity to trigger a buy or a change in product usage.

While 78% will likely purchase a product, such as shampoo or face wash, because they are running low (a “need”), 28% would purchase a new product because of “want,” based on the desire for a newer brand (12%), because they saw an ad (9%) or because of a recommendation or impulse purchase (both 8%).

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Once someone has decided to purchase a new product or replenish an old one, it found most Canadians are looking for control (60% ) and enjoyment (26%) of the pre-shop research. As a result, lists play a big role in helping consumers feel in control, with 90% making some sort of shopping list prior to heading out and 57% of Canadians specifying a brand name on the list, helping drive them towards a specific new or replacement product purchase.

At this stage of the path to purchase, samples and deal sites, and to a lesser extent magazine ads, are the biggest influencers for product selection, the report found. When evaluating a habitual purchase, people are looking for products that are good quality for the price (60%), affordable (58%), gentle and safe (47%), something they’ve used before (43%), a trustworthy brand (38%) and an appealing scent (36%).

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Once a shopper has decided on a product, the study examined what people were looking for when hunting for a store at which to purchase the item. At the top of the list was competitive pricing (50%), with good deals and offers (48%) closely behind. Forty-one percent are looking for everything in one place while 36% are looking for a clean and tidy store with good hours, close to home.

Once in store, consumers will browse and purchase items outside their original list with three out of four browsing around the store, at least a little – only 25% would visit only the areas needed. While 90% of Canadians make shopping lists, many don’t bring their list, with only 25% of shoppers sticking to it religiously.

Check out the full report at 

Graphics and images provided by Microsoft.