21% of Canadians Would Never Buy From An American Retailer [Study]

Here at Search Engine People, we're always curious about how consumer habits differ between Canada and the United States - and how our clients can take advantage of this information. As part of our ongoing study into shoppers' willingness to buy from neighbouring countries, we were curious to find out if Canadians are more or less willing to buy from American brands than Americans are to buy from Canadian companies.

To find out where Canadians stand on American companies, we commissioned another Google Consumer Survey to get the answers we needed.

SEP asked, "At what point would you consider purchasing a $50 item (that you really want) from an American retailer rather than a Canadian retailer?"

Those surveyed were asked to choose from the following options:

  • Same Price
  • $45 (10% less)
  • $37.50 (25% less)
  • $25 (50% less)
  • I would never!

What Did We Learn?


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From our 1500 responses, we gathered a variety of interesting information in regards to whether or not Canadians will purchase from our southern neighbours. Some of the most notable findings included:

35% of Canadians aged 65 or older would never purchase from an American retailer 
  • 33% of Quebec residents would make a purchase from an American company if they were given a 25% discount, whereas only 23% of Ontario residents feel the same way.
  • For more results from our study on Canadian Willingness to Buy American, view our complete Research Summary.

    What Does This Mean For You?

    One of the key conclusions that can be drawn from this study is that Canadians are more likely to shop internationally than their American counterparts.

    While 33% of US residents would never knowingly buy from a Canadian retailer, just 21% of Canadians would not purchase from an American retailer. There are a multitude of possible reasons for this finding, ranging from a wider variety of items available from US retailers, to cheaper prices and better shipping options.

    Since a large portion of older Canadians prefer to shop with a Canadian-based retailer, displaying your national pride on your website could sit well with Canadian shoppers, especially those aged 65+. If your brand targets an older audience, this finding may influence a your decision to use a .ca domain over a .com domain, as it is an immediate sign that the website is intended for Canadian consumers.

    Additionally, understanding that younger generations are more willing to purchase from American companies is information that Canadian companies should seriously consider. If your business targets a younger demographic, you may want to consider if your American competitors are offering something you are not, and develop strategies to attract young Canadian shoppers to your website.

    Future Areas of Research

    While older Canadians still seem to prefer to shop within their own country, younger generations are beginning to embrace the options that come with the international online marketplace, so our findings will likely change over time. Whether Canadian companies will see a reduction in their local customer base, or millennial shoppers begin to support national businesses more often, SEP wants to know where North American shopping trends are headed.

    We hope to conduct further research into some of the following questions:

    • Are there certain items that Canadian shoppers are willing or unwilling to purchase from across the border?
    • If the same variety of items was available in Canada as it is in the United States, would shoppers prefer to purchase them from a Canadian retailer?
    • Do shipping costs significantly alter a shopper's decision to buy internationally?Do these findings reflect your own personal shopping habits? Or, do you have another digital marketing question that you would like SEP to look into? Let us know!

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