Are new Canadians making online purchases?


The population of newcomers continues to grow in Canada—this is an opportunity for retailers to tap into this market especially through online sales and digital advertising.

Oath Inc. and GroupM conducted a recent study on Canadian newcomers’ media consumption, cultural mindset, and their shopping attitudes and behaviours. 935 immigrants from four Canadian provinces were surveyed. The results were compared with a sample of residents who were born in Canada.

The results show that immigrants are more likely to purchase online on a regular basis than other Canadians. 53% of new Canadians said they purchase something online at least once a week. Only 38% of Canada-born respondents said they do this.

“Newcomers are significantly more likely to make purchases online,” says Shannon Austin, sales data insights manager at Oath.

However, when it came to browsing online shopping sites, 61% of Canada-born said they do this at least once a week, compared to the 52% of newcomers.

“Newcomers are much more transactional,” Austin says, “as opposed to a leisurely activity of just browsing for a pastime.”

Many immigrants say that buying Canadian products is a part of the process of forming a connection to their new home. They are open to trying new brands and tend to have a positive perception of the brands in Canada.

“New Canadians are significantly more likely to feel that brands in Canada offer better quality,” Austin says, “ They are less likely to say that they stick to their favourite brands, and they are less likely to know what brands they want when they go shopping.”

Price is a key factor for immigrants when they are making purchasing decisions.

“Across all the categories, we asked what influences their purchase decisions,” Austin says. “We see that price is at the top of that list for most things.”

However that is not the case when it comes to buying beauty products. Research shows that when purchasing in the beauty category, quality is the top factor for newcomers. They are also interested in brand prestige to a greater extent than Canada-born shoppers.

A majority of immigrants try new beauty products when they arrive in Canada. This is partly due to the fact that not all of the products they used in their home country are available in the Canadian market, and because the Canadian climate can demand different types of products, Austin says.

“We know that they are switching up their beauty routine,” Austin says.

There is an opportunity for Canadian brands in the beauty market, especially through advertising. When shopping for beauty products, 80% of newcomers said that advertising was one of the top influencing factors in their purchase decision.

Advertising seems to resonant with new Canadians in other categories too. New Canadians pointed to advertising as the most influential reason when deciding which brands of food to buy.

Advertising also drives newcomers online in search of products. 60% of newcomers who were surveyed said that they search for items that they saw on an advertisement at least once a week. Whereas only 50% of other Canadians said they do this.

On average immigrants tend to spend more time on their mobile devices than Canadians born in Canada. If retailers and brands want to reach this market then branching into mobile advertising could be an effective channel for them.

“Retailers need to keep that in mind when thinking about how to connect with [newcomers],” she says.

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