Canadian shopper survey sees private brands winning the holidays

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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A survey of Canadian shoppers finds 9 out of 10 respondents “will be pivoting away from brands to private labels” this holiday shopping season, a reflection of COVID-19 impacting shopping attitudes and behaviors, according to EY and its EY Future Consumer Index study.

"With sudden supply chain interruptions and store closures across the globe, many consumers have had to switch up their typical buying habits to try new products and purchasing methods when their go-to brands weren't available," said Lokesh Chaudhry, EY Canada consumer co-Leader. "Private labels have grown in popularity as North American retailers worked hard to invest in their private label programs by offering innovative products, flavors and pricing promotions."

The survey found consumers putting more of a focus on price and availability of products this year, too, with 62% saying they expect to think more carefully about how they spend their money. About 60% of the respondents said they are looking at price and 40% are focused on availability. 

Ryan Beck, a consumer co-leader at Toronto-based EY, said it goes beyond being value-conscious shopping when looking at the rise of private label. "Consumers defined by their desire to prioritize local businesses, or put the planet or society first, show high levels of interest in private label products as well."

The survey did find more shoppers looking to shop online, too, and that’s putting more of an emphasis on shopping off a checklist as opposed to enjoying the discovery and experience of shopping in stores, Beck said. 

"Retailers must be cautioned that promotions and sales events aren't going to cut it. They'll need to take bold actions to transform how they position products like groceries, decorations, fabrics and lights, that consumers would typically be able to touch and feel, attractive and interactive for online shoppers,” he said.

Nearly 70% of Canadian shoppers surveyed said they will be postponing purchase of big-ticket items, and 64% globally said they won’t buy products that they don’t feel they need.

More on the study can be found here.