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Consumer trends to watch


October 22, 2013
By Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery

Oct. 21, 2013, Montreal — Five consumer trends will have a permanent
impact on Canadians' buying habits and create growth opportunities for
small and medium-sized enterprises, according to new research by the
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

The Mapping Your Future Growth: Five Game-Changing Consumer Trends
report identifies five consumer behaviours that have emerged as a
result of advances in technology, changing demographics and the
2007/2008 recession: the buy-local movement, rising health awareness,
frugality, mass customization of goods and the impact of the Internet.

"These
consumer trends have created rich business opportunities, which
entrepreneurs must seize on if they want to grow their businesses," said
Pierre Cléroux, chief economist at BDC.

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However, the research
shows that entrepreneurs have not embraced all trends equally. Some
businesses have begun catering to the increased demand for healthy,
well-priced local products, for instance, but have been slower to catch
on to e-commerce.

In fact, the Canadian online retail presence
remains largely underdeveloped and, as a result, e-commerce has lagged
behind that of most other nations, with some of the lowest penetration
levels in the developed world.

"Regardless of whether they buy a
product over the Internet or in a store, more consumers are influenced
by what they see on online channels," said Mr. Cléroux. "Entrepreneurs
must realize that a simple website is no longer sufficient for
businesses. Instead, they need to adopt a multi-channel approach."

The "Made in Canada" advantage

Of
all the consumer trends, the buy-local movement has been the most
powerful. Close to two-thirds of Canadians say they have made an effort
to buy local or Canadian-made products in the past year, and two in five
consider local production an important factor in their buying
decisions.

"The 'Made in Canada' brand is powerful because
Canadians have clear understanding of what buying locally made products
means to the national economy," said Cléroux.

The research shows
that consumers who buy local do so for economic reasons: 97 per cent of
Canadians do it to support the local economy, 96 per cent do it to
support local farmers and 93 per cent do it to create local jobs, while
87 per cent think it is better for the environment.

Quebecers and
Atlantic Canadians are the most faithful users of locally made
products, with roughly three-quarters indicating they recently bought
products made in Canada. Consumers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the
least likely to opt for made in Canada options.

BDC's study also found:

  • Half
    of all Canadians consider the health impact of a product when making
    purchasing decisions and one-third are willing to pay a premium for
    healthy products.
  • Mass customization has emerged as the go-to
    technique for delivering tailor-made products and services to customers
    at prices and lead times that match those of mass-produced products.
  • The Internet is much more than an online purchasing tool; it is now embedded throughout most product purchasing journeys.
  • Seven
    out of 10 consumers have reduced their spending since the recession,
    and two-thirds consider the lowest possible cost the most influential
    factor in their purchasing decisions.

The recession also weakened consumer confidence, and low interest rates have spurred high debt levels.

"Consumers
want personalized, high-quality products at reasonable prices and are
using many penny-pinching strategies like group couponing to get more
bang for their buck," said Cléroux.

BDC announced the research results during the launch of BDC Small Business Week, which runs from Oct. 20 to 26. This year's theme is "Success Ahead! Map your future growth."


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