The Commercial Shift: Consumer Behaviour During and After the Pandemic (Phase 1)

April 9, 2020

In partnership with lg2, Leger is unveiling a study focused on how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the behaviour (mainly online) of Canadian consumers.  

“COVID-19 has had a tremendous and unpredictable effect on nearly every aspect of our lives, so it’s understandable why our emotions are heightened during this time. That’s precisely why facts matter more now than ever. As our situation evolves, we need to draw upon what is actually happening on a local and national level to ensure we are observing the crisis and making decisions clearly, with as little emotional bias as possible,” noted Keith Barry, Partner, Vice-President, Strategy, lg2. 

This study is a starting point for measuring the concrete consequences of the pandemic on behavioural change. The current situation has a different impact from one population to another, from one region to another, and from one sector of activity to another. As such, it is essential to measure and observe what is happening in Canada to paint a portrait of Canadians. 

The consumer is a creature of habit. They usually enter the store at about the same time, walk down the same aisles, buy the same products, pay the same amount and leave after the same amount of time.

As mentioned by Jean-Marc Léger, President of Leger, “The current COVID-19 crisis is bringing about major changes for the consumer and is disrupting their daily life. In the coming weeks, the same consumer will develop new online shopping habits. Many merchants will no longer be part of their habits, and new behaviours will emerge.” 

As the consumer changes the way they think, they will also change the way they spend. 

In this day and age, where fake news is all too common, it is crucial to rely on accurate data to follow tomorrow’s consumer: the post-crisis consumer.

Key Findings

> The crisis is a springboard for the digital universe.

Nearly one-in-five Canadians (18%) say they have adopted at least one new online behaviour for the first time since the crisis. Among these new consumers, more than seven in ten (71%) intend to continue at least one of these behaviours in the future. The study confirms that the crisis is benefiting companies who offer products and services online and that there are major opportunities for retailers to maintain these gains over the long term.

> Young consumers are adapting quickly to their new reality.

In general, younger consumers are more likely to have changed their shopping habits during the crisis, while older consumers have remained more faithful to their old habits.

> Canadians are becoming more aware of the importance of buying local.

With their consumer world turned upside down since the beginning of the crisis, more and more consumers are buying locally. Canadians say they are buying local products more often or for the first time.

> Food and health are at the heart of Canadians’ concerns.

Cooking with basic ingredients is the fastest-growing habit across the country.

Survey Methodology

  • Web survey of 2,109 Canadians (including 1,003 in Quebec, 601 in Ontario, and 505 elsewhere in Canada).
  • The survey was available in English and French.
  • Data collection took place from April 3-6, 2020.
  • In order to be representative of the study population, the results were weighted according to the respondents’ sociodemographic profile, based on gender, age, mother tongue, region, presence of children in the household, and level of education.

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