The difference between intentions and actions at the time of purchase

When we ask consumers about the reasons that motivate them to choose one product or brand over another, the responses are often very noble: buying local, sustainable development, etc. But when it comes to actual purchase, are good intentions overwhelmed by factors such as price?

Sought-after product vs state of mind
To better understand actions taken by consumers, it’s important to take into account the importance given to a transaction. In fact, our mental state is not the same at the moment of buying an everyday product (for example, tooth paste, for which no great amount of energy is required) as compared to a unique purchase (more costly), where we would tend to spend more time researching the product and thinking about it longer before actually purchasing.

In the first case, less than one consumer out of two would actively search for a product whose purchase would have a positive impact on the environment or society1. To convince consumers to buy the article in question, the brand would have to clearly communicate the added value of the product, if the price isn’t unbeatable.

Contribution, at a fair price
Despite good intentions and the difference in purchasing according to product or even generations, nonetheless two-thirds of Canadians agree that price is the principal factor in their decision-making process2. However, a brand that is capable of clearly communicating how it stands out from the competition (above and beyond the product itself) and whose operations create an agreeable shopping experience for potential customers will attract the attention of members of the general public. After that, they must be retained.

Purchasing priorities for Canadian consumers

This table shows the priorities of Canadians when it comes to choosing a product or a service (in the Food & Drink industry). Price comes in first, followed by quality. A trend that is growing in importance from year to year is environmental impact, and it seems sure to continue doing so. In fact, 40% of respondents in the EY survey said that sustainable development would influence their decisions over the next 3 years. Other factors, such as customer experience – in store as well as through other buying channels – are becoming more and more important in the purchase process. 46% of those surveyed said that they would be prepared to pay more to encourage a brand that had a positive impact on society. Many other surveys confirm this trend.

Pandemic habits that still continue on
Despite our desire to be rid of the pandemic, buying habits we adopted during the crisis will continue on into 2022. With 63% of respondents to a survey by eMarketer*3 saying that they would make their holiday purchases only on line, other factors suddenly become relevant as the moment to click on “Buy now” approaches, among them product availability on the website, free delivery, the option of in-store pickup, huge discounts, etc.4

In conclusion, although price remains a dominant factor in the decision-making process, and that COVID-19 still influences our purchasing habits, nevertheless trends that have been increasing in importance over the years will continue to strongly influence consumers. And brands must respond to the demands and wishes of their customers to keep their place in markets that are continuously evolving.

*Worldwide data: since information is similar in the United States, we expect it to hold true for Canada as well.

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