Study: 21% of Canadians Would Never Buy From an American Retailer

Why Did We Conduct This Study?

Search Engine People conducted this study to complement the findings from our research into US shoppers’ attitudes towards purchasing from Canadian retailers. In our initial study, we found that one-third of Americans would not knowingly buy from a Canadian company, and wanted to see if the same sentiment held true for Canadians purchasing from American companies or brands.

The results of this study will become part of our larger-scale research into how US and Canadian shoppers feel about buying from retailers outside of their home country, and if this impacts their buying habits. SEP’s goal is to use this research to better guide the digital marketing strategies of our clients who sell in both the US and Canada.

How Did We Perform the Study?

SEP made use of Google’s online Consumer Surveys platform to ask 1,500 Canadian residents the question, “At what point would you consider purchasing a $50 item (that you really want) from an American retailer rather than a Canadian retailer?”

Respondents were asked to select one of the following five options:

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

All survey responses were collected over a 3-day period in September 2015.

Sampling Bias:

Comparing this question's sample distribution to the Internet Population data for CA.

Group Response Non-response Internet Population Bias
Male 61.6% 49.0% 50.4% 11.2%
Female 38.4% 51.0% 49.6% -11.2%
18-24 27.6% 20.2% 20.1% 7.5%
25-34 25.2% 20.5% 20.1% 5.1%
35-44 14.2% 17.7% 18.3% -4.1%
45-54 12.9% 15.6% 18.3% -5.3%
55-64 11.2% 14.2% 14.8% -3.6%
65+ 9.0% 11.7% 8.5% 0.5%
British Columbia 17.6% 18.3% 14.1% 3.5%
Prairies 16.1% 18.1% 18.0% -2.0%
Ontario 51.6% 44.5% 38.8% 12.8%
Quebec 9.2% 12.4% 22.4% -13.2%
Atlantic 5.4% 6.2% 6.5% -1.1%
North 0.2% 0.4% 0.2% -0.0%
RMSE score 6.4%


What Did We Find Out?

This survey produced some interesting findings in relation to Canadian attitudes towards purchasing from US retailers:

21% of all Canadians would never purchase from an American retailer, even if it were available at a lower price.


Tweet This Image

Age was a factor when it comes to who would never shop south of the border. 35% of Canadians aged 65 or older would never purchase from an American retailer.


Tweet This Image

33% of Quebec residents would buy an item if it cost 25% less from a US retailer, compared to just 23% of Ontario residents.


Tweet This Image

So What?

When compared to our findings about US shoppers, the results of this survey indicate that Canadians are less loyal to Canadian brands. While 33% of Americans would never buy Canadian, only 21% of Canadians say that they would never buy American. Canadians may be more likely to shop at a retailer not based in their home country due to a lack of options and competition among Canadian retailers. Often, US brands offer more product selection and items not available in Canada, leaving shoppers with no choice but to purchase from an American retailer to get the item they want.

The relationship between age and willingness to purchase from a US retailer is also of interest. These findings indicate that older Canadians may feel a greater sense of loyalty to Canadian companies and therefore choose to support local retailers rather than American brands.

SEP will continue to study how both Canadian and American based retailers are perceived by shoppers, and how this affects companies who are looking to attract customers from both countries.