2016 Holiday Outlook—Canadian insights

The spirit of smart spending

Consumers in Canada are prepared and willing to spend more this holiday season, but that renewed enthusiasm for holiday shopping comes with renewed expectations—they’re looking forward to a perfect, seamless experience. Retailers need to be ready to provide a convenient, omni-channel environment with mobile-friendly capabilities and socially engaging initiatives. This approach puts the customer at the centre of the strategy by focusing on the primary elements of our Total Retail (TR) solution framework—engage, offering, channels and support. How are retailers preparing for the holiday season? Where will consumers shop? What channel will they primarily use? What influences their purchasing decisions?

Our key findings offer insights into consumers’ shopping behaviours during the holiday season and the implications of those actions for retailers.


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Gen Z rules social

tech-driven consumers

Gen Z (born after 1996) has been arguably the most influential demographic in the growth of interactive digital content. These younger consumers are tech-driven, social media experts that react positively to products promoted by their favourite influencers—public figures, entertainers and athletes. Gen Z tends to engage with retailers digitally but prefers going to stores with friends and family to buy their gifts. They like to communicate via images and value authenticity. Reviews from actual product users appeal to them; corporate advertising doesn’t.

Mobile matters

Digital and mobile shopping on the rise

Digital and mobile sales continue to increase as consumers keep looking for easier, faster ways to find the ideal holiday present. From monitoring deals to paying and tracking packages, shoppers are going mobile. Digital-savvy millennial parents are likely to use a mobile device to pay for purchases. Social media is one of the biggest shopping influencers, with retailers taking advantage of the channel to engage consumers with holiday promotions, feedback, reviews and ads. Retailers need to boost their investment in digital channels and social media now if they want to fully succeed in a future mobile revolution.

I want it fast…and free

Easy checkout and free shipping are must-haves

It’s no secret that today’s customers use multiple channels when shopping. This means they’ll combine the best of physical and digital when shopping during the holiday season. Customers are used to easy online checkout, so they want a similar fast and easy checkout experience when it’s time to pay in-store. They also want simple Wi-Fi access to check product information and knowledgeable sales associates with information at their fingertips that will help improve the customer’s personal shopping experience. Both free shipping and free returns complement this hassle-free holiday shopping experience. Retailers should be offering a variety of online and in-store options to provide the optimal mix of convenience, price, speed and variety that consumers expect today.

More deals more often

Low price remains the top priority

Price is still the major factor in purchasing decisions for most Canadian consumers. And as their shopping habits become more diverse and mobile, the need for last-minute holiday shopping becomes less urgent. Consumers are comfortable shopping year-round and will purchase products online from an out-of-country retailer if prices are better. Cultural, social and retailer-generated holidays are also disrupting end-of-year shopping, motivating consumers to start looking for deals and discounts abroad long before the holiday season starts. The assortment of products available worldwide, paired with new and easier ways to shop online cross-border—free shipping, currency conversions and simple import fee calculations—are also very appealing to consumers looking to get good value.

Sense of community

Local brands more valuable than ever

While price is the priority for shoppers when they make holiday purchasing decisions, supporting local brands is also very important to them. Whether they’re looking at local businesses, independent retailers or new entrants, consumers want shared values and retail communities they can feel they’re a part of—reinforced by brands they trust to support the lifestyle and experiences they’re looking for. Shoppers prefer local retailers that are committed to corporate responsibility—by boosting local employment, making charitable contributions, producing local goods and translating values into action.

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