A look at the spending power of Quebec’s online shoppers
We’ve all seen how the pandemic and the shifts in our world have changed our shopping habits. Change is a constant in retail, but the level of change we’ve seen in the retail market since early 2020 is unlike any other period. Brands and retailers must rethink what role they play in the lives of consumers and how to respond to their changing expectations.
Canada Post engages Canadians in an annual survey and develops a report to help retailers keep up with their evolving behaviours and preferences across the shopping experience. This article is based on their key findings for Canada and a look at how Quebec (unsurprisingly) is slightly different.
Online all the time
Canadian shoppers buy more online, spend more time and money transacting digitally and that is very unlikely to swing back the other way. What this means for retailers is a higher expectation on e-commerce businesses to nail every stage of the customer experience—from site navigation and checkout to delivery and returns.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Canadian online shoppers say they’re examining their values and prioritizing what’s most important to them in life. They now prefer to support businesses that share their values. Before deciding whether to buy from a retailer, Canadians often or always consider whether they treat their employees well (35%), protect the environment (27%), carry sustainably and ethically sourced products (25%) and are genuinely committed to doing the right thing (25%).
Over the past year, nearly one in five (16%) Canadian shoppers have stopped purchasing from brands they previously purchased from regularly. Many did so because the brand no longer matched their personal values. The prevalence of brand switching is highest among the Millennials (20%) and Gen Z (18%).
What it means
Every aspect of your brand will be closely watched, from product and promotion to packaging and shipping, to the size of your footprint and the authenticity of your public positions.
Though price and quality remain top purchase motivators, shoppers are making room for other purchasing considerations, including the environmental, social, and ethical impacts of their purchases.
Every generation cares about price, quality, and brand, but there are some differences among the age cohorts about what other factors they place a high priority on. If your brand appeals to a certain cohort, homing in on its key concerns is a huge factor in your success. Here are the top three values-based concerns among each generation.
Because we’re often an elusive bunch in our Frenchie-land, let’s now focus on how Quebec’s online shoppers compare to the rest of Canada.
When looking at shopper behaviour across regions, Quebecers stand out for having experienced the least pronounced shift to digital and the most pronounced shift to purpose:
46% of online shoppers in Quebec say they buy more items online now than before the pandemic started. That’s lower than the national average (50%), as well as all other Canadian regions – British Columbia (50%), the Prairie and Northern regions (49%), Ontario (52%) and the Atlantic region (51%).
69% of online shoppers in Quebec are examining their values and prioritizing what’s most important to them in life. That’s higher than the national average (65%), as well as all other Canadian regions – British Columbia (65%), the Prairie and Northern regions (60%), Ontario (63%) and the Atlantic region (67%).
69% of online shoppers in Quebec are examining their values and prioritizing what’s most important to them in life.
Tips for tapping into Quebec online shoppers’ spending power
Below are four research-backed tips for tapping into the spending power of Quebec’s online shoppers. These come directly from the Commerce Quebecois du Commerce de Détail.
- Get serious about sustainability
In the Quebec market, operating sustainably is not just good for the environment. It’s good for business.
Quebec shoppers have spent the past few years looking inward and taking stock of their values. Sustainability has emerged out of this self-reflection as a key priority for them, and they’re now expressing this through their shopping choices. Quebec-based shoppers are more inclined than those in any other Canadian region to say they often or always consider whether a retailer protects the environment (34%) and carries ethically and sustainably sourced products (32%) before they purchase from them.
Quebec-based shoppers are more inclined than those in any other Canadian region to say they often or always consider whether a retailer protects the environment (34%)
- Engage them across online and offline channels
Looking to get noticed by Quebec shoppers? Consider including print in your marketing mix. Though they’ve been spending much more time online over the past few years, ads in the mailbox still hold serious sway in the Quebec market. In fact, direct mail stands among the top three channels that Quebec shoppers consult for shopping inspiration, with 36% saying they consult it often or always when looking to learn about new brands and products. As a medium for discovery in Quebec, it’s only outperformed by search engines (45%) and customer ratings and reviews (40%).
Direct mail stands among the top three channels that Quebec shoppers consult for shopping inspiration.
- Show off your Canadian roots
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Canadian shoppers to double down on their support for Canadian businesses. Quebec shoppers are particularly motivated to buy Canadian. About half (49%) of shoppers in this market often or always consider whether a retailer is based in Canada (compared to 43% nationally) and 44% consider whether they sell Canadian-made products (compared to 37% nationally) before they decide to buy from them.
If you’re based in Canada and/or carry Canadian-made products, use this to your advantage in the Quebec market. Using Canadian imagery in your marketing and letting your customers know how you give back to Canadian communities are just a couple ways you can show off your Canadian roots.
About half (49%) of shoppers in Quebec market often or always consider whether a retailer is based in Canada
- Provide a stand-out delivery experience
If you’re selling online to consumers, you already know that the delivery experience impacts customer satisfaction, loyalty and repeat purchase rates – but this is even more true of Quebec’s online shoppers.
The top three things that shoppers in Quebec look for when choosing among retailers are low prices, excellent customer service and a great delivery experience. In fact, almost three in five (57%) online shoppers in Quebec often or always consider whether a retailer offers a convenient and flexible delivery experience before they decide to buy from them (compared to 49% nationally).
Quebec shoppers are also more inclined than those in any other Canadian region to say they’d choose one retailer over another if they offered a choice of delivery speeds (53%), flexible delivery options (49%) and delivery to a secure location, rather than leaving packages unattended at their doorstep (56%).
Quebec shoppers are evaluating retailers in a whole new light. They want better, more seamless online shopping experiences, and they want to feel good about whom they give their business to. While this may prove disruptive to some retailers, those who know their customers, tailor their experiences and act with purpose will find immense opportunities to not only survive but thrive, in e-commerce’s new normal.
You can download the full report here.