In the latest edition of Consumer Behavior Profiles, we take a look at the Canadian shopper's preferences and dislikes. We'll go in depth on what matter's most to a Canadian consumer, how they find a product, and what you should be doing in your marketing program to make them feel like a priority.
15 Canadian Shopper Trends To Leverage in Digital Marketing
Our Consumer Behavior Profiles series continues this week. If you missed our first edition on US shoppers, you can get a full look at the 15 US shopper behaviors and trends here. In this blog post we're going to review what Canadian shoppers value, how they select a brand/product, what some current behaviors are showing trend wise, and finally how you can put some strategies and actions into your affiliate marketing program.
5 Things a Canadian Shopper Values
Canada may not be the big online spenders that the US is, but they're on the rise and projected to spend $30 billion in e-commerce this year alone. Interestingly, this information - cited by eMarketer - shows that this trend will continue to rise incrementally through 2021, where Canadian consumers will eclipse $50 billion in online sales for the first time ever.
Being able to activate your brand and capture their attention (and business) is critical, but needs a strategy. In this first section, we're going to review what a Canadian consumer values when shopping for a brand, and how they might pick a product.
1. Value is Key
Canadian shoppers love finding the best deals possible. The extent that Canadian consumers are willing to go to, as we’ll review in this article, highlights this. If you want to get the attention of Canadian consumers, the first thing you should do is ask yourself what’s the value you’re providing them. There are a few ways you can do that, as we’ll discuss right now.
2. Deals/Offers > Brand Loyalty
How much do Canadian customers value a specific brand? Not as much as they value a great deal or offer. Canadian shoppers seek the best deals they can find, and it doesn’t matter which brand provides it for them. This can be positive for brands looking to capture the attention of new customers. By offering a competitive deal that makes your brand stand out, Canadian shoppers will be likely to take notice – and possibly purchase. But don’t rest on your laurels, because other brands could usurp your customers utilizing the same, deal-heavy tactics.
3. Loyalty Programs are Key
We’ve found that one of the best ways to incentive Canadian shoppers is to offer them deals via loyalty programs. An eMarketer study examined loyalty programs for Canadian shoppers and found that 175 million Canadians participated in a loyalty program at some point in 2016, showing a 35% growth from 2015. Additionally, eMarketer noted that Canadian customers belonged to an average of 12.2 loyalty programs as of 2017, but were actively participating in about 7. Identifying the right loyalty publishers to partner with can expand your reach to the Canadian customer, but knowing which ones your potential customer base are most active in (rather than just enrolled in) is key to success.
4. Key Verticals
Canadian online consumers shop for books, consumer electronics, and fashion the most. Products in these categories should be a good focus for brands who are trying to capture the attention of Canadian shoppers, but don’t fret if your vertical doesn’t cater to these products. Instead, focus back on the previous points by leveraging loyalty publishers and providing value through cost-efficient means.
5. Cross Border e-Shoppers
72% of Canadian internet users made at least one cross-border digital purchase within the past year, according to an October 2016 eMarketer survey. That’s good news for global brands: Canadian consumers don’t feel confined to their own country when it comes to online shopping. Canadians are some of the biggest cross-border digital shoppers, which means they’ll be more than willing to step outside local Canadian e-retailers to find a deal/offer that incentives them and drives them to make a purchase. This can be a great opportunity for you to expand your reach, no matter where you are, so long as you’re willing to ship internationally. Make things easier for Canadian shoppers by doing things like having any shipping costs available for them to review.
4 Must-Know Facts for Retailers
Retailers looking to tap into the Canadian market will need to understand the preferences of a Canadian shopper. One of the biggest things to note is that Canadian shoppers have no issue shopping across the border. We'll go more in depth on that below.
6. Leverage Free or Low Shipping Costs
This is a universal theme for consumers – they love free shipping, and if they can’t get free shipping they love low shipping costs. For retailers who would be shipping internationally to Canadian shoppers, take advantage of this fact by giving them free shipping or low shipping costs, if possible. One way to accomplish this is to have minimum purchase thresholds for free/reduced shipping costs.
7. The “Grass is Greener” Perspective
One important perspective Canadian shoppers hold is their belief that they find better prices from non-Canadian retailers. In 2016, 45% of Canadian consumers shopped cross-border during Thanksgiving weekend. This was up from 29% in 2015. Their goal, as mentioned, is finding the best deal possible. Since we know that Canadian consumers are motivated by cost and good deals, retailers outside of Canada should keep this in mind when they put their marketing efforts forward.
8. Utilizing CAD Pricing
One way to show Canadian shoppers if they’re getting a better deal or not is to provide them with pricing in CAD. Having pricing in Canadian currency has two advantages: first, it provides a more accessible comparison for Canadian shoppers (which reduces the time it takes to make a purchase and makes shopping easier); and second, it gives your site or platform a local feel. Canadian shoppers know that they’re shopping internationally, but a local touch is important to them and can go a long way in their purchasing decision.
9. They’ll Be Researching
Canadian shoppers are thorough researchers. They’ll take their time to evaluate all their options – online and in store, domestic and international – before they make a decision. They’ll use comparison shopping and try to find the absolute best value, as well as any incentives from loyalty/rewards programs and the like. If you want to stand out, you need to make your offer compelling. Keep factors such as free/low cost shipping, loyalty programs, and deals in mind when trying to make your brand stand out.
3 Rising Trends for Canadian Shoppers
Today's Canadian shopper is fluid, and as their online spending grows their behaviors will change. Here's three things you can expect to see happen from Canadian shoppers.
10. Social Media and Influencers
Social influencers are a huge deal in the US, and the use of social media to shop and make purchases is expanding as well. In Canada, these trends are growing for consumers and becoming more integral in their path to purchase. Canada has 21.2 million social media users in 2017, which makes up just under 58% of the population. By 2021, that number is expected to rise to 23.1 million, or just under 61% of the population. Familiar trends such as live video streaming are nothing out of the ordinary for younger Canadian shoppers - primarily Millennials - to leverage. Finding influencers and content publishers that utilize social platforms effectively, especially with a Canadian audience, can help your brand succeed with these customers.
11. Mobile Purchasing
Mobile purchasing has been trending upwards for years now, and Canadian shoppers are catching up to it. A survey last year on eMarketer found that Canadian shoppers made about 27% of their purchases in a month on a mobile platform, just slightly behind US consumer behavior (29%). Much like US shoppers, you’ll want to give Canadian shoppers the option to make purchases on their platform of choice. That can be accomplished by optimizing your platform for mobile devices and making it as accessible and seamless as possible.
12. Personalized Offers
The demand for getting individual needs met is a widespread phenomenon for consumers, and younger Canadian shoppers – Millennial aged, 18-24 specifically – expect personalized offers both online and in store. This is a trend that will take a lot of preparation and execution, and there’s no one switch a brand can throw to make it happen. Brands can get started right now in the affiliate channel by being strategic with their content publisher and influencer partnerships. Finding influencers and content publishers that can speak to specific niches, needs, and audiences can give a personalized feel to potential customers.
3 Ways to Win Over Canadian Shoppers
How do you win over Canadian shoppers to your brand? We came up with three solutions based on the information above that you can act on.
13. Put Your Promos on Social Media
You can start reaching younger shoppers who are more tech savvy by having your deals and offers available on social media platforms. The best way to accomplish this, again, is to work with content publishers and influencers that have a strong social media presence knows how to properly promote an offer for authenticity and personalization, and can tailor the message to a social channel. Also remember that every social channel is different, and you’ll need to leverage the expertise of publishers to take advantage of each social platform’s pros and cons.
14. Exclusive Offers for Publishers
Take advantage of the loyalty that certain publishers give your brand, and help reach Canadian customers in the process. Canadian shoppers love the idea of having deals personalized for them, and publishers would appreciate a competitive advantage by being able to offer an exclusive deal or discount. Make the most of this by providing your publishers with exclusive offers for them that will resonate with their followers.
15. Use IP/Redirects
Optimize your site so that, if you pick up a Canadian IP address, it will redirect them to a part of the site tailored to them. This site can have things like a welcome banner, Canadian currency prices, and focused shipping prices – everything they’ll need in order to make an informed purchasing decision.
Lissette Alvarez is a Senior Manager, Network Development for Rakuten Marketing's Affiliate Network. Lissette specializes in Global outreach and partnerships. She has extensive experience with Integrated Marketing and helps create consumer success for top international partners. Prior to Rakuten Marketing, she worked as a Digital Media Manager for Fox Sports, Account Management at Google, and in Digital Planning for the Food Network. Lissette holds an MA in New Media and a BA in History from DePaul University. She is based in Chicago.