Gen Z Canadians less keen on green than Americans

U.S. consulting firm A.T. Kearney also finds that young Canadians are more forgiving of bad retail experiences.


When it comes to Canada-U.S. relations, it was JFK who said, “Geography has made us neighbours. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners.” However, when it comes to the economics of retail behaviour, Canadians and Americans diverge, particularly among the Gen Z set.

Those are the findings of a new shopper study by American global management consulting firm, A.T. Kearney, which surveyed 1,500 respondents spanning four generational groups (including 450 Canadians) to get a better understanding of attitudinal differences with respect to retail across the 49th parallel.

Among the key findings, Gen Zers in Canada are less attracted to social and environmental-linked products than their American cousins. When asked whether they agree with the statement: “I prefer products that are linked to a social mission,” 38% of Gen Z Americans, versus only 20% of Gen Z Canadians, said they do.

And while both groups cited a near equal preference for environmentally sustainable products (57% for Americans versus 55% for Canadians), there’s a disconnect when it comes to stepping up to the plate to actually make a purchase: 31% of Canadians versus 37% of Americans in the Gen Z demo say they’re willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly products.

When it comes to the in-store experience, Canadians are a slightly more forgiving bunch than Americans, which has implications for bricks-and-mortar retailers. Gen Z in the U.S. are more likely to let negative experiences deter them from a purchase than their Canadian counterparts. For respondents who had three to five negative in-store experiences within the last year, 26% of Americans were deterred from purchasing vs 18% of Canadians (the corresponding online retail results were similar: 23% versus 18%).

And with respect to celebrities and social influencers, Canadians are a lot more difficult to sway. Among the report’s recommendations are that retailers “consider alternate approaches to brand and awareness building in Canada,” based on the following: Gen Z in Canada do not value reviews or endorsements to the same extent as Gen Z in the U.S. The biggest gulf in the online shopping space comes from non-celebrity social influencers, where only 42% of Canadians (versus 60% of Americans) find their endorsements “extremely or moderately important.”

Finally, the report says that marketers need to consider Canadians’ less obsessive use of technology: while more than half of Americans (53%) spend more than five hours/day on their phone, tablet, laptop, the same can be said for only 31% of Canadians.