What are Canadians’ spending priorities?

Research from Mintel suggests a feeling of greater financial security and increased spending on experiences.

Canadians are feeling more secure in their financial health, and they’re putting more of their discretionary income toward “experiences” like entertaining and dining out.

The findings are part of Mintel’s Canadian Lifestyles 2018 report, which it compiled based on a survey of 2,000 respondents.

When asked where they spend their “discretionary” money, 39% said they put it towards entertainment (up from 25% in the 2017 version of the report) and 38% said dining out (compared to 30% in 2017). Travel came in at third with 35%.

“This trend in experiences over things is seen as more emotionally rewarding for consumers and allows them to create memories with others,” said Carol Wong-Li, senior lifestyles and leisure analyst at Mintel. “This is a boon for non-essential categories such as dining out and entertainment – areas that consumers had taken a step back from in previous years owing to a more conservative approach to spending that has been alleviated over the last year.”

While debt reduction is still an area where discretionary money goes for 33% of consumers, the report suggests that the overall shift in spending towards “non-essential” categories is reflective of consumers having a more positive perception of their personal finances: 43% of consumers see their financial situation as “healthy,” up from 36% who said the same in 2016. Further, 54% described their financial goals as “attainable,” while 87% say they have already or feel comfortable with their ability to save money – another 85% say the same when it comes to paying off debt and 78% agree to being able to save for a comfortable retirement.

The report also looked at the values that consumers deem important, with 65% saying equality is “an important Canadian value.” That number is 62% for consumers over 55, and 74% for those between 18 and 24. What’s more, 52% of Canadians say diversity is an important value  when broken down into demographics, 46% of those over 55 and 61% between 18 and 24 say the same thing.

“Moving forward, brands not only need to consider messaging around inclusiveness, but also that the voices of the various ethnic groups are growing and want to be heard,” said Wong-Li. “The time is ripe for marketers to connect with consumers through offerings that include an experiential element and messaging that reflects Canadian values of inclusiveness, open-mindedness and diversity.”