Canadian vs American shoppers

Brandspark finds we think differently about value, trust and innovation.

Canadian-shopperWith its latest survey, Brandspark is getting inside the heads of Canadian shoppers. And our  American cousins too.

The evolving Canadian shopper –how they are thinking about value, trust and innovation differently is its survey of 15,440 Canadians (and 11,4000 Americans) using 115 attitudinal statements and perceptions, and representing a regional and demographic cross-section of Canadians. The survey compared 2019 sentiments with those of its 2015 edition when it comes to value and trust. Brandspark also explored the differences between Canadians’ shopping attitudes and those of our neighbours with regard to the importance of reviews, product innovation and being green.


Comparing 2019 and 2015 data, 10% fewer of us study flyers, promotions and discounts before shopping trips, and 14% more of us agree with the statement, “Clipping coupons is too much trouble.” And compared with 2015, 6% more Canadians indicate one-stop shopping is more appealing than the lowest price.

According to Denis Hancock, BrandSpark International, director, consumer insights, “Canadians are still looking for value but less willing to put the work in to get it, which has implications for marketers.”

Another aspect of the study which may keep marketers up at night: 9% more of us believe private label just as good as brand names in 2019, and 10% fewer of us prefer buying brand names on sale to private label ones.



Much has been said about millennials’ heightened skepticism and distrust on both sides of the border, but how is it being manifested? According to Hancock, “Trust in brands is declining, and all messages from institutions. What’s filling the gap is star ratings from consumers.”

When it comes to product recommendations from others, both friends and online, 12% more Canadians feel this is important versus 2015 data. And compared with Americans, Canadians place more value on recommendations and much less on wanting to be the first among their friends to try a product.

And 7% more of us agree that “I am not concerned about the brand name as long as it delivers on what I need.” According to the study, in today’s world, brands don’t have to be perfect to use and leverage the consumer voice – just focus money on getting more recent reviews (According to the study, a 4.4 star average review with 80 people is more impactful than a 5 star with 8).


Americans place a higher value on innovative products too, 62% agreeing with the statement, “I look for products that are innovative”, versus only 53% of Canadians (In 2015, there was near-agreement).

Also, more Americans agree with this sentiment: “I will usually buy a new product that advertises that it is new and improved,” (37% of Americans surveyed, versus only 28% of Canadians). The gap between the two groups was only 1% in 2015.


Canadians are a skeptical bunch. In fact, 43% (versus 33% of Americans) agree with the statement, “I am skeptical of the effectiveness of all-in-one products that claim to replace several other products”.

Hancock observes, “Canadians need more proof that things are actually better. And key messaging needs to explain why something is better.”

Canadians are also more overwhelmed by product choice than Americans.

Green products: 

Perhaps the largest cross-border difference is with respect to the environment.

Way more Canadians agree that “I would switch the household care products I purchase if I could find a similar product with less packaging.” (58%, versus 49% American).


According to Hancock, Canadians are placing a higher value on green initiatives, particularly as it pertains to packaging. “There are heightened opportunities, on that front,” Hancock says. “All shoppers will say they would like things to be more eco-friendly, but are often unwilling to pay for it, saying the manufacturers need to sort this out.” He says the results show that there is now a shift in attitude towards “putting your money where your mouth is.”