Nearly half of Canadians have rethought their values

A group of "reimagined" consumers, as dubbed by Accenture, have also re-evaluated the brands they support during the pandemic.

Fully half of the global population, and nearly as many Canadians, say the pandemic has forced them to re-evaluate what’s important in life, and by extension, to rethink the brands and services they are willing to support and pay more for.

A global Accenture survey of 25,000 consumers across 22 countries conducted between Dec. 2020 and Feb. 2021 describes this segment as “reimagined” consumers, a group who identify with the statement, “The pandemic made me totally revise my personal purpose and what is important for me in life.”

In Canada, they represent 44% of the population, less than the 50% globally, but a large enough proportion to place Canada at the middle of the 22 markets studied in terms of the number of “reimagined” shoppers relative to two other groups: “traditional” consumers who say they haven’t been changed by the pandemic (20% in Canada and 17% globally) and “evolving” consumers who are unsure (35% in Canada and 33% globally).

While price (21%) and quality (19%) are important drivers for the “reimagined” cohort, they are also driven by service and personal care (14%), trust and reputation (12%), health and safety (12%), ease and convenience (11%), and product origin (10%). The preferences of these consumers are powerful enough to drive both brand switching and willingness to spend more, the consultancy says, across the 14 different industries it examined in the study – though in different ways and to varying degrees.

Fifty percent of the “reimagined” (versus only 14% of the “traditional” group) say many companies have failed to provide enough support and understanding of their needs during the challenges of the pandemic. And 72% of the “reimagined” group expect companies they’re doing business with to understand and address how their needs and objectives change during times of disruption – versus 27% of “traditional” consumers.

What’s more, 66% of the “reimagined” say they expect brands to take more responsibility in motivating them to live by their values and to make them feel more relevant in the world.

“We see this not just as a pandemic effect, but also as an inevitable long-term consequence of the shift to digital technologies informing and enabling purchases — accelerated by the pandemic,” notes Accenture.

Whereas a host of consumer research has long pointed to younger generations as the driving force behind the shift to more meaningful and purposeful consumption, the Accenture study suggests the “reimagined” cohort cuts equally across people of different ages, genders, locations, employment, income and other demographic profiles.

“In the recent past, for example, it was younger consumers for the most part who expected a brand’s larger purpose to align with their outlook on life,” the report notes. “A broad group of consumers now seeks that connection.”

The study includes insights on the motivators behind brand switching and brand loyalty across different sectors.

In retail, for example, the “reimagined” are far more willing than the “traditional” to pay to see their expectations met by their current providers. Sixty one percent of consumers from the former group would switch retailers for one that maintains a clean and healthy shopping environment in stores, and 47% would pay more for that experience (versus 57% and 21% of traditional shoppers). Similarly, 55% would switch for a retailer that offers sustainable products and services, and 46% would pay more (versus 46% and 20% of traditional consumers).

Meanwhile, trust and reputation stand out in consumer goods and services, with the “reimagined” being more willing to pay extra and switch companies that take action towards positive social impact. In that sector, 54% of the reimagined would switch to a company that offers locally produced products and services to help support small businesses, and 46% would pay a premium to have their current company provide that experience (versus 46% and 19% of traditional consumers).

Photo courtesy of  Dollar Gill via Unsplash.