Made in Canada matters to overseas consumers

A PwC survey of international shoppers shows leaning into a brand's Canadian roots could help them expand into new markets.

The vast majority of Canadian exports in 2018 went to the U.S., but a new report suggests there is demand from customers in other international markets for our country’s products.

PwC Canada conducted a survey of 3,521 consumers in seven countries – Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom – polling them on their perceptions of Canada, as well as Canadian products and brands.

Overall, 96% of respondents held a positive view of Canada. Roughly two-thirds of those surveyed were at least generally aware of Canadian products, but awareness tended to be higher amongst younger generations who are more active on digital channels, which PwC suggests that it points to a digital-heavy strategy being beneficial to brands looking to expand into new markets.

Respondents reported a greater likelihood to buy more Canadian products in the future, across all product categories. The top-performing categories, though, were furniture and home goods, as well as food and beverage, where 89% and 88% of respondents, respectively, believe Canadian products are of the same or better quality than those made in other countries.

Anita McOuat, PwC Canada’s national leader for technology, media, telecom and consumer markets, notes that consumers outside of Canada might not be as able to make the connection between a brand and its Canadian roots. In some cases, they recognize the brand, but not the fact that it is Canadian.

One way to drive that connection home without using maple leafs and hockey is by leaning into the elements international consumers associate with Canada more broadly. “The positive traits associated with being Canadian, like trustworthiness, reliability and quality, have created a halo effect for Canadian goods. That’s an easy shorthand for brands entering into new markets,” added McOuat.