Brand Strategy

The reimagined Canadian consumer: what are we looking for in 2022, and can brands deliver?

Consumers want to embrace positivity, and they are increasingly influenced by brands’ commitments to sustainability, DEI, transparency, and more.

A few months into 2022, and we are seeing a reimagined consumer whose purchase motivators and behaviours are increasingly influenced by the growing importance of corporate social responsibility and values-based brand loyalty, while also needing to negotiate the very real impacts of inflation and supply chain shortages.

At the same time, consumers are balancing a sense of optimism about the future, which has arrived with warmer weather and eased COVID restrictions, following the heavy toll taken during the pandemic. Mental health and wellness and the solutions brands can deliver have never been so openly discussed and promoted. Consumers want to feel good, but brands must be thoughtful in delivering the positivity without the risk of appearing tone deaf amidst inflation, a multi-year pandemic, global conflict and more.

At the end of the day, what are Canadian consumers looking for and is your brand ready to deliver?

Evolving brand strategy to meet Canadian consumers’ changing priorities

The world has changed drastically over the past two years, and with Canadian consumers’ changing values and priorities, consumption behaviours and purchase motivators are evolving too. In order to connect with today’s consumers, brands need to not only innovate and adapt to changing preferences, but also meet consumers where they are from an emotional and values-driven standpoint.

Evolve with your consumers

Times of uncertainty lead consumers to crave a sense of control over their lives. Brands that can deliver transparent information on ingredients and production practices, while innovating and evolving based on consumer research, will be providing consumers with the reassurance that their preferences matter and that they have control over their purchasing decisions.

Move beyond virtual, but know your market

As restrictions loosen across Canada in the first part of 2022, consumers are looking for connections with brands and products that move beyond the virtual world. Consumer trial – putting your product to the test – is especially critical for new launches. During the past two years, brands have engaged influencers and fans to share their virtual experiences for others to observe or created virtual changerooms and emulated in-store experiences. However, the physical, personal, and direct trial remains the ultimate moment of truth. Let them try and help them buy.

Though there is general eagerness to engage with in-person activations once again, brands must ensure they stay in tune with consumer sentiment around in-person activations and shopping in Canada on a national scale, as well as at more regional levels, as behaviours and attitudes around the pandemic and in-person activities will continue to shift.

Optimism with a plan B

Brands that are bringing fun and interactive elements back to consumer experiences are recognizing the importance of uplifting people coming out of times of distress. As weather warms in Canada this spring, a sense of optimism and hope can’t be denied in consumer marketing. However, this positive messaging must come with careful timing and execution, as that sense of optimism is set within the context of a multi-year pandemic, skyrocketing inflation, and more. Brands spreading a message of positivity and optimism must stay nimble and current to avoid being tone deaf in today’s environment.

Navigating negative emotions, such as disappointment or anxiety, is a universal experience, and brands have the opportunity to bring humour as an antidote or recognition of the less-than-perfect circumstances consumers are often negotiating. If driven by insight and conducted with tact, brands can engage with consumers in a more relatable and honest tone through the use of humour.

Shared values build loyalty

Consumer expectations of brands and companies to meet purpose-driven standards, such as around ethics, sustainability, and governance criteria, is increasingly seen as table stakes. Brands that can show measurable, transparent, and consistent evidence of their shared values and positive actions will retain loyalty with their core audience and provide a compelling reason-to-believe across a broader target.

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Harbinger is a Toronto-based North American marketing agency with expertise in product launches. We help brands get noticed and purchased.

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2022-04-14T14:00:08+00:00