What Canadians want to hear from brands right now

The latest wave of IMI's COVID-19 research also provides updates on how consumer shopping habits continue to shift.

Canadians want to hear from brands and how they are operating during the ongoing pandemic, but have specific things in mind for what will and will not interest them, given the state of the world.

According to the third wave of IMI’s examination of consumer perceptions of COVID-19, which polled 900 Canadians over the course of last week, 35% of Canadians say they want companies to inform them about how to avoid COVID-19, while 31% say they want companies to donate a portion of sales to local hospitals and 28% want them to partner with other companies to maximize the impact of their efforts to help. Only 16% said they’d prefer companies “do nothing.”

On the lower end of the scale, only 10% were looking for “entertainment with interesting content” from companies, receiving information about cleaning procedures or chances to enter a contest, with 9% interested in hearing a message from a company president or seeing a company launch a new product or service. With the Olympics postponed until next year, only 8% of Canadians are interested in hearing if or how companies are supporting Canada’s Olympians.

In terms of other consumer behaviour, nearly half of Canadians expect to stay home and cook more frequently over the next month, with health concerns around the global virus causing them to isolate. That’s in contrast to 13% who intend to do so “much less.”

Within the next month, 18% of Canadians expect to order less delivery directly from restaurants, compared to 5% who said they’d order more. In terms of more general delivery services like Foodora, SkipTheDishes or UberEats, 20% of Canadians surveyed say they will use it much less, while 9% say they’ll use it much more. While 9% plan to order groceries online for delivery, 13% plan to do so less.

In terms of shopping habits, 24% of Canadians will go to big box stores, such as Costco and Walmart, more over the next month, with 11% saying they will go less. Amazon leads the online delivery category, as 18% of Canadians say they’ll buy what they need from the prominent online marketplace more, compared to 10% who will buy less. That’s also compared to 12% who said they will shop online at all websites more, with 14% planning to shop less.

The results show a generational divide in how Canadians intend to shop within the next month. For Gen Z and millennials, 13% plan to shop online more, with 8% planning to do so less; for Gen X and Boomers, 12% plan to shop online more, but 18% plan to do so less. For big box stores, 29% of Gen X and Boomers will go to stores like Walmart and Costco more often, compared to 17% of Gen Z and millennials that plan to do the same.