Study: Inside the Minds of Canadian Shoppers

BrandSpark’s Canadian Shopper Study quizzes consumers on what they buy and why. Here, key new stats on their behaviour in the beauty aisles

Photography: IStockPhoto

Photography: IStockPhoto

Each year, BrandSpark International, a Toronto-based market research and innovation insights firm, conducts its Canadian Shopper Study. More than 65,000 Canadian “household shoppers” (age 18+) took the 2015 survey, delivering a comprehensive snapshot of the way consumers across the country think and behave now.

The Most Trusted Brands

One of the first questions in the 2015 Canadian Shopper Study asks participants to name their most trusted brands in a wide range of categories. The results are used not only for this study, but also to determine the winners of BrandSpark’s annual Most Trusted Awards. 

According to Philip Scrutton, research director at BrandSpark, mass brands tend to win in the beauty categories because they are the most widely used: “This does not mean that the quality of prestige brands is doubted,” he says. “It’s just that the majority of Canadian consumers feel there is value in and trust the top mass brands.” 

These beauty brands were “most trusted by Canadians” in 2015:

Acne Treatment: Clearasil / Clean & Clear (tie)

Adult Sunscreen: Coppertone

Anti-Aging Facial Care: Dove

Bar Soap: Dove

Body Moisturizer: Aveeno

Body Wash: Dove

Facial Wipes & Facial Cleanser: Olay

Foundation: CoverGirl

Hair Colour: L’Oréal Paris

Hair Removal: Nair

Hairstyling: Pantene / TreSemmé / L’Oréal Paris (tie)

Hair Treatment: Pantene / L’Oréal Paris (tie)

Lip Balm: Blistex

Lipstick: Revlon

Mascara: CoverGirl

Men's Body Spray: Axe

Men's Shampoo & Conditioner: Head & Shoulders

Men's Shaving: Gilette

Men's Skincare: Dove Men+ Care

Nail Polish: Sally Hansen

Women’s Facial Skincare: Olay

Women’s Shampoo & Conditioner: Pantene 

Women's Shaving: Gilette Venus

What Earns Trust?

This year’s study revealed that supporting charitable causes, using flashy packaging or running clever ads isn’t enough when it comes to securing shoppers’ trust. According to the results, a brand’s best bet is to be responsible and honest with consumers.

Among a list of 16 factors ranked by participants, the top three likely to “greatly increase” their trust in a brand were: responding to product issues (62%), providing product information (55%), and being transparent about how products are made (52%).

Scrutton attributes this focus on transparency to an increase in consumer awareness when it comes to beauty products: “Consumers want to know about, and feel comfortable with, what goes into their products. They understand that sometimes there will be issues with products or ethical concerns, but they expect brands to stand behind their products and take responsibility for their actions.”

New Shopping Habits

With the ubiquity of the Internet, information about brands and their products is rarely more than a few clicks (or taps) away. At home, 66% of respondents reported using their computers to scrutinize products in every category—it’s the fourth most popular activity after e-mailing, surfing search engines, and online banking.

When it comes to beauty products, 20% of shoppers do research on the go, using smartphones to check out deals and prices at other retailers, and skimming customer reviews before making a purchase. Of course, consumers are also increasingly skipping stores: 63% of respondents said they do their shopping online (up 9% from last year), with clothing and books being the most popular scores. Even so, the majority of Canadians still prefer purchasing goods in-store, citing delivery charges and not being able to see products in person as deterrents from online shopping.

So who’s sending customers to stores in the first place? If they’re shopping for cosmetics, it’s most likely because a family doctor, dermatologist, friend or family member recommended it. Beauty advisors come in 6th place on the list of most influential recommendations, but they still trump blogger reviews, editorial coverage and celebrity endorsements.