Consumers Speak Up About Environmental Products, Private Labels and More

New survey reveals shoppers' habits, quirks and preferences

Written by Melissa Campeau

Canadian consumers remain skeptical about environmental claims, have a fondness for new products and love their printed flyers. These are some of the findings in a new BrandSpark study of shoppers, analyzing the habits, quirks and preferences of 103,000 consumers.

When it comes to products making “green” or “environmentally friendly” claims, Canadians are skeptical: A full 60% believe these claims are often exaggerated or misleading. When claims are believable, Canadians like the notion of green products but not the added cost. Only 40% of Canadians say they’re willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. More than 70% appreciate when manufacturers cover the costs of production and offer environmental benefits without increased costs.

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House-brand products are a hit with the majority of shoppers. More than 60% of Canadians believe house-branded products are good value for the money, with 90% of Canadians purchasing store brands instead of name brands in the past year. Products in the food and beverage category are the most popular private-label items. More than 50% of Canadians regularly buy store-brand dry food, frozen vegetables and bottled water. Health and beauty products inspire a stronger sense of brand loyalty in Canadians, though, with more than 30% of shoppers stating they would never purchase private-label deodorant or makeup.

Canadians are quite willing to try new products, particularly if they see them as an improvement over existing ones. In fact, 67% of Canadians say they’re willing to pay more for a new product if it’s better than what’s currently available. And they believe research and development is key for new product innovation. Of those surveyed, 64% feel “new” really does mean improved for health products, 59% say the same holds true for household care items, 57% for personal care items and 57% for food products.

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Even though Canadians embrace new products, they’re slower to change how they shop. Nearly 47% of Canadian shoppers own a smartphone but the majority, more than 80%, still uses a hand-written shopping list. Change is coming, though, with 30% of shoppers aged 18 to 34 saying they store shopping lists on their phone regularly or occasionally.

Despite most Canadians’ ability to access sale information online, more than 80% of Canadians say print flyers influence which items make it onto their shopping lists. In fact, more than 90% of Canadians read them regularly or occasionally. Online versions are becoming more popular, though: 26% of Canadians regularly read digital grocery store flyers. Among shoppers reading both print and digital flyers, however, 71% still prefer the print format.

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Nearly 47% of Canadians own a smartphone (up from 37% in 2012). Of shoppers with a smartphone, 37% report using it to look up product information while in store and 22% search for product reviews on the spot. They’re acting on that information, too, with 40% saying they’ve made a different purchase decision because of their in-store research.

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