Shoppers are Increasingly Looking for Deals, New Products – and a Good Joke

As Canada moves into month two of the COVID-19 protocols, we are starting to see some important changes in what shoppers are looking to hear from brands and marketers. Leading the way is a growing interest is sales & promotions, new products launches – and maybe a good joke to distract and entertain them during these challenging times.

These are among the findings from our latest weekly BrandSpark Shopper Survey* (for further details about this see the end of this post). Figure 1. shows changes from mid-March to early-April in what this community was looking to hear from the brands that they often use.

Figure 1. What Shoppers want to hear from the brands that they often use: changes between mid-march and early April 

Here are a few thoughts on the three things on the list which increased the most:

  1. What’s the deal with less deals? In mid-March “fair prices” were significantly more top of mind for shoppers than sales and promotions; now the two options are almost tied. We believe part of this may be because grocery has become an even larger share of total purchases for shoppers, at the same time many grocery stores simultaneously moved away from discounting / promotions because everything was flying off the shelves. Given the economic uncertainty many are dealing with, we expect shopper interest levels in sales and promotions to keep rising – and questions to be raised if it is noticed that certain stores are offering them less than before. After all, it hardly seems fair to reduce sales during these difficult times, particularly given in recent years many shoppers came to expect lots of different types of deals offered throughout the store.
  2. New products are wanted – but need to be launched differently. As we’ve written about several times recently, there are many indications that Canadian shoppers are even more interested in new product launches during this crisis than they were before. But with so much shopping activity shifting online, totally new tactics are necessary to help them succeed.
  3. Make sure your jokes are actually funny. Shoppers are definitely looking for some levity right now. But brands need to tread very carefully here, because past BrandSpark advertisement tests have taught us that while truly funny ads were usually amongst the strongest performers, those that received the dreaded “tried to be funny but it wasn’t” were almost always amongst the worst. If you’re not sure the joke is going to land, it is generally better to play it straight. 

But of course things can change quickly. While need for communication around sufficient production is in decline, a few more major supply chain disruptions could alter that dynamic. The weekly BrandSpark Shopper Survey will continue to keep on an eye on how these attitudes change over the coming weeks. In the meantime, we’ll try to practice what we preach in order to wrap up this post in a way that connects to some of the core shopper behavior changes we’re seeing, but doubles as a bit of distracting entertainment:

Pretty much sums what many of us are dealing with every day, right?

* The weekly BrandSpark Shopper Survey is conducted with our sister company’s Shopper Army Community, and is designed to capture leading-edge insights into how shopper attitudes and behaviors are changing. This highly engaged and responsive community over-indexes to a wide variety of behaviors important to brand marketers, ranging from new product trial (i.e. early adopters) to e-commerce usage across multiple categories, making them a strong predictor of where the market is going. Through integration into the annual BrandSpark Canadian Shopper Study, we are also able to quickly assess changes in foundational attitudes any time throughout the year (and relate findings to other Canadian shopper segments), in addition to having the community available for custom engagements. To learn more, contact