A third of Canadians are worried about the effects COVID-19 will have on their lifestyle

March 24, 2020

Mintel’s Global COVID-19 Tracker trends changes in global consumer behaviour directly related to COVID-19

  • 54% of Canadians say they wash their hands more frequently now due to COVID-19.
  • Nearly a third (31%) of Canadians say they haven’t made any behavioural changes as a result of the outbreak.
  • Asian Canadians over-index on making behavioural changes following the outbreak.

Change is never easy, especially when it’s forced by the global spread of disease. According to new research from Mintel*, a third (33%) of Canadians are worried about the effect the COVID-19 outbreak will have on their lifestyle. But, consumer reaction to the pandemic is uneven due to the characteristics of certain demographics.

Carol Wong-Li, Associate Director, Lifestyles & Leisure, at Mintel said:

“At Mintel, we are always measuring changes in consumer behaviour, but as the scope and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, we are taking an even closer look now, and in the weeks to come, at the impact on consumer sentiment and behaviour.

“Today, Canadians show moderate concern about the virus and few have changed their routines. But, as the spread of the virus is not yet contained, brands are in a position to get out ahead of potential drastic changes in consumer behaviour with messaging that is comforting and speaks to the need to prepare, prevent, or treat during a potential outbreak. While heavier reliance on digital platforms is a good strategic move for brands to better connect with consumers, companies need to consider utilizing such platforms in new and innovative ways to support consumers during this unique time”.

People are focusing on what they can control – their germs
Canadians are making sensible behavioural changes as a result of the outbreak; 54% say they are washing their hands more often, 36% are using hand sanitizer more often, and 31% are trying to avoid crowded places. However, nearly a third (31%) of Canadians say they haven’t made any changes as a result of the outbreak, only 16% have stocked up on groceries and a mere 12% have changed holiday plans.

“Brand efforts regarding purchases and behaviours centred around COVID-19 need to be mindful of tone; communications should reflect a sense of calm and preparedness, rather than reactionary panic so as not to fuel what consumers are seeing in the news and on social media – things like stockpiling toilet paper and canned foods”, continued Wong-Li.

Asian Canadians are feeling the greatest impact
According to Mintel research, worry and behavioural changes are elevated in the Asian community, as it relates to COVID-19. Half (50%) of Asian Canadians are worried about the risk of being exposed (vs. 31% of Canadians overall) and 53% are worried about the impact on their lifestyle (vs. 33% of Canadians overall).

What’s more, a greater percentage of Asian Canadians (86%) are making at least one change to their behaviour compared to all Canadians (69%). In fact, Asian Canadians are more likely to be making changes across virtually all areas: 66% are washing their hands more often, half (50%) are using hand sanitizer more often, 48% are avoiding crowded places, and 28% are avoiding restaurants/going out to eat (compared to 14% of consumers overall). A mere 14% of Asian Canadians say they haven’t made any changes as a result of the outbreak.

“Our research shows that Asian Canadians are more worried about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s important for brands to note about this increasingly influential demographic is that they are traditionally more attentive to the social behaviours of companies and more inclined than the average Canadian to purchase from companies and brands that support causes they believe in, according to Mintel research on ethical consumerism. Moreover, Asian Canadians are more inclined to see brands as having the ability to change society for the better. Brands that support causes and promote the fact that their efforts are making an impact will be looked at positively by the Asian Canadian community”, said Wong-Li.

What brands can do
As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve in Canada, companies and brands will be faced with challenges and opportunities to better engage with consumers and meet their changing needs.

“Brand communications during this difficult time should be grounding for consumers and centred around the positive things they can do, as well as what brands are doing to support them. Our research shows that the bulk of Canadians are practicing conscious consumerism, making them attentive to brand actions and policies. What’s more, the majority of Canadians see diversity as a core part of ‘being Canadian’. Given these two factors, brands that clearly and sincerely promote a ‘we’re in this together’ message that reflects a commitment to both supporting inclusion and protecting employees will find success through the pandemic and post-COVID-19 era,” concluded Wong-Li.


*2,000 Canadian internet users aged 18+; March 3-12, 2020

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