The new personal values of Canadians

A study from McCann shows that demographics are less of a defining factor than values like individuality and fairness.

Canadians are defined less by what part of the country they come from or how old they are, and more on values like individuality, fairness and doing good in the world, according to the “Truth About Canadians” study by McCann Canada.

With Ipsos Public Affairs, the study was conducted in three phases between March and August: an online quantitative survey of 2,505 Canadians, a series of in-person and online qualitative interviews, and additional interviews with 18 industry and academic experts for further perspective on the findings.

The study revealed that on many key metrics, there was no significant difference between traditional demographic groups like age, ethnicity, geography or language. Only 18% of those surveyed said they felt a connection to their physical communities.

“Understanding Canada and Canadians has been a consideration for years, but the approach has been focused on demographic divides and dynamics in the country,” said Mary Chambers, chief strategy officer at McCann Canada. “Specifically, Quebec versus Rest of Canada, east versus west, ethnic versus established, aging versus youth. While these demographic divisions remain a part of our DNA, there is a whole new layer to Canada.”

What emerged from the research were groups aligned more along values and attitudes.

Individuality was a key value identified in the study, with 74% of Canadians saying it is important to express oneself, even if their opinions are unpopular, compared to 69% of Americans who said the same. Also, 72% of respondents said they’d rather be considered an individual than fit in with the crowd, compared to 64% of Americans.

The other key value to emerge was fairness, exemplified by the 85% of Canadians who said it’s better to “play within the system” to succeed, rather than succeed by breaking the rules or putting others down. Further to that, 77% said making a positive contribution to society is a guiding factor in their everyday lives, while 71% said the government has a responsibility to help the less fortunate.

However, while 7 in 10 Canadians say they want to make both the world and their communities a better place, only 1 in 5 actually take action, and just 29% have changed their purchase behaviour or participated in a boycott due to social, environmental or ethical concerns related to a brand or product.

Echoing a trend in other consumer insights, 93% of respondents said they would prefer a life filled with great experiences, rather than beautiful possessions. When it comes to recommending products, 36% said they are likely to recommend a brand that’s Canadian.

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