Why do young Canadians buy local?

January 29, 2020

Buying locally and buying ethically seem to be growing trends among younger generations. How are these manifested in young people’s day-to-day lives and habits? Are young people really more inclined to buy locally? Are they really more demanding consumers? The 2019 Youth Survey asked these questions, and the answers may surprise you!

Young people in Canada choose to buy local products for a variety of reasons, from supporting the local economy to ensuring freshness and quality to protecting the environment/minimizing their ecological footprint, and more. The Youth Study shows that despite their strong environmental awareness, the younger generations do not necessarily perceive buying local as a factor in reducing their ecological footprint.

Preferences by age…

Leger’s Youth Study (the largest of its kind in Canada, which surveyed 3,003 Canadian youth aged 13 to 37) aims to dive deeper into the perceptions, behaviours and values of millennials and Generation Z on a wide range of subjects, including local and ethical purchasing.

The results of the study revealed three distinct age groups with different perspectives with respect to consumption: the carefree (aged 13-19), the turbulent (aged 20-29), and the stable (aged 30-37. Click here to read our article to learn more about them.

In the Youth Study results, we noticed some interesting differences with respect to age:

  • The carefree (age 13-19) prefer to purchase cheaper products from big-box stores (which makes sense, given that their incomes tend to be lower as well).
  • The stable (age 30-37) want more local products and are willing to pay more for them. With higher purchasing power and increasingly specific needs, the importance of buying local increases as young people get older.

Overall, young people who have higher incomes, live in urban areas, and are older (age 30-37) are more likely to prefer buying local.

image of local market

What is the main reason young Canadians buy local?

Young Canadians are concerned about the environment. For example, recent mobilizations across the country to demand more effective environmental measures are a testament to the climate anxiety among millennials and Generation Z.

However, when we analyze how young people aged 13 to 37 spend and consume, we note that they do not necessarily see local purchasing as an action to reduce their ecological footprint. In other words, they do not make the connection between buying products made in Canada and reducing their ecological footprint.

Young Canadians’ main reason for buying local is to support the local economy, followed by obtaining quality products. Ecological considerations come later. This is a surprising observation coming from generations who place the environment at the heart of their daily concerns. This is something that Canadian companies should consider if they want to encourage young people to buy locally and ethically.

Want to learn more about what young Canadians think about buying local (including whether they’ve changed their purchasing behaviour to buy local products and the main obstacles for buying local)? Click the button at the bottom of the page to contact us for more information!



The 2019 Youth Study (Canada) was conducted online by Leger from August 13 to September 1, 2019, among 3,003 Canadians aged 13 to 37, randomly recruited from Leger Opinion’s online panel. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of 3,003 respondents would have a margin of error of ±1.8%, 19 times out of 20.

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