Interest in causes and discounts have spiked, but only if they’re relevant

An IMI report shows consumers are more driven by the environment and mental health.


While some sustainable consumer behaviours have taken a backseat during COVID, according to the latest IMI insights, Canadians are more keen on purchasing from a brand that supports environmental issues than when the crisis began.

Those are the insights in IMI’s latest “Global Recovery Playbook,” based on a survey of respondents in 39 countries, including Canada, conducted throughout September.

Canadians, in stark contrast to Americans, are more influenced by a brand’s green overtures: out of 23,419 Canadians surveyed, 63% of would purchase a product because a brand supports environmental initiatives, up 11% from pre-COVID levels. This compares to a plateauing U.S., where only 44% share that pro-green brand sentiment, roughly the same as at the beginning of the year.

Other causes that are particularly relevant to consumers’ lives during the pandemic have seen a boost as well. Compared with pre-COVID levels, there is a 9% jump in the number of Canadians likely to purchase brands that support mental health and wellbeing initiatives – to 39% – compared with only 1% more Americans.

American and Canadian attitudes are also going in different directions when it comes to buying local. While there’s been no growth in that sentiment stateside, in Canada, 8% more of us are willing to buy a product to support a local brand.

The report says that, based on these finding, it is not just important to support a cause, but to support one that is relevant to consumers’ lives and communities. And even with economic anxiety being a major issue for consumers, simply offering discounts and coupons without some kind of emotional connection or relevance is not enough either: in February, 59% of Canadians said a digital coupon would push them to purchase, which has since dropped by 6%, a decline that was also seen with digital flyers.

While value is important, it needs to be delivered in relevant ways. The biggest driver influencing ecommerce purchases in Canada was offering free delivery, followed by discounts specifically on new products, live tracking for delivery and next day delivery.

IMI’s insights also reveal that people care more about fast and accurate delivery than they do about innovative mechanisms like text updates or drones. It also finds that consumers are less patient for small purchases and necessities like medications and groceries, than they are for larger, non-essential items like footwear and apparel.

The least influential online purchase drivers were “don’t pay for 60 days” offers and virtual product try-on. The ability to purchase directly from eBay, Instagram and SnapChat also ranked low.

Online research is also critically important: 77% of consumers surveyed in Canada will purchase after researching a product online, up 5% from pre-pandemic levels. Consumer ratings are also seeing a boost: 64% of Canadians will purchase a product after reading a consumer review, up 6%.