How Shopper Trust and Stubbornness Dynamics are Different in Canada than the U.S.

Over the years one of the clear trends we have seen is many brands treating Canada as an extension of the U.S. market, using similar strategies and tactics. We’ve also heard from many marketers in Canada that they have a challenge convincing “head office” that the Canadian market is different than the U.S. for their category – which they fundamentally believed, but didn’t necessarily have enough data to prove.

Thankfully, we do. As part of the BrandSpark Most Trusted Awards (BMTA) program, we run a detailed trust and stubbornness analysis of about 150 CPG categories simultaneously in both countries (and will soon be doing the same across many other categories as well). We looked at a subset of 127 of these categories that had at least one strong challenger brand in both markets to see how the categories compared. Some of the highlights of what we learned are:

  1. Canadian shoppers are generally less firm in their decisions about the brands they trust. One of the elements we have added to our study is a measure of what we call brand stubbornness – which captures how much more shoppers trust their preferred brand over the closest alternate. On average, for any given category, Canadian shoppers are less stubborn than their American counterparts. In fact, in only a bit less than 10% of categories does the Canadian trust leader have a stubbornness score 5%+ higher than their American counterpart, while in 60% of the categories, the American leader’s score is 5%+ higher. The implications of this, among other things are that trust leaders have to work harder in Canada to maintain their base, and changes in trust dynamics in Canada can happen quicker than in the U.S.
  2. The trust leader/ top challenger brand combinations vary a lot across categories. In only about 25% of the categories looked at were the trust leader and top challenger the same brands in both markets. In another 30%, the leader was the same but the challenger was different. In a bit over 10% of the cases, the top challenger brand in the US was the leader in Canada. The remaining approximately 30% can only be classified as “other”. That’s quite a bit of variance, creating a base of dynamics fundamentally different between the two markets in most categories. BMTA Winner Top Challenger Dynamics, Canada vs. U.S
  3. Even when the brands are the same the fundamentals are usually different. Even when we isolate down to the categories where the trust leader and top challenger are the same, the fundamentals are often different. In only about 20% of these cases are differences in trust gap and stubbornness scores between the two countries less than 5%. There’s about an equal number of most trusted brands that have a significantly larger trust lead to those that have a significantly smaller one.

If you’re in a category that was part of BMTA Canada and you’d like to learn more about how it specifically differs from the U.S., feel free to contact us at for a free topline overview.