unsplash shopping image

Black Friday Shopping Trends: How to Target American vs Canadian Buyers

November is in full swing and you know that means! The holiday shopping season is here, starting with the kickoff event, Black Friday.

Black Friday is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year and online sales for Black Friday continue to rise. In 2017, online sales rose 18% and overall sales hit a record of $7.9 billion.

With each passing year, Black Friday continues to gather steam and this shopping extravaganza is a significant opportunity for brands, marketers and advertisers to increase not only their sales but also their brand reach.

One of the best ways to make the most of this opportunity is to invest time in getting to know your target customer and their specific shopping behaviors. There are countless factors that come into play with shopping behaviors, and where people live can greatly impact what they’re looking for from your brand.

Canadian and American shoppers behave differently, so understanding each audience’s needs and preferences and adjusting your campaigns accordingly will help you get the best results.

Here are some major differences between Canadian and American shoppers to take into account this holiday season:

Canadians are Always Shopping but Aren’t Brand Loyal

A 2018 study by Think with Google found that Canadian consumers are always shopping. The study identified three key attributes when it comes to Canadians and their shopping:

  • They want help with their shopping.
  • They’re brand-agnostic.
  • They’re quick to walk away when they can’t find answers.

While Canadians may have a tendency to apologize, they make no apologies about the fact that they’re not particularly loyal to your brand and that they value helpfulness. You simply can’t rely on your brand name or reputation alone to bring in sales, so understanding what your customers are looking for from the shopping experience is critical.

The Think with Google study found that nine out of ten Canadians aren’t certain which brand they want to buy from when they’re in the early stages of shopping. They’ll do research online via their smartphones, but they go into the process with an open mind looking for a product or brand that meets their specific needs.

For your marketing campaigns, your focus should be on helping shoppers get the information they need so they can make informed decisions and then purchase when and where they want to.

Canadians want you to deliver answers that are relevant and useful. If there’s any doubt about how important quick and accurate information is to Canadians, consider that 55% of smartphone users have purchased from another company than originally intended. Ultimately, they purchased based on the fact that the brand provided the information they needed, when they needed it.

This quest for information should be the cornerstone of your Canadian marketing campaigns. Campaigns should be constructed so that you’re anticipating the customer’s needs and answering their questions before they even have to ask.

Canada Can’t Stop Shopping

Also, Canadians are constantly shopping, and it almost always starts online. A reported 86% of Canadians are shopping for something at any given time period in up to five different categories.

As a result of this consistent online shopping activity, Canadians are often overwhelmed and need help with their research as well as keeping track of what they’re browsing. This presents an opportunity for marketers to improve the customer experience by providing digital lists and other resources to aid in the customer’s decision-making process.

Helping Canadians Buy From Your Business

To help Canadian shoppers choose your brand, consider using pre-populated lists as mobile searches in Canada for shopping lists have grown by 180% in the last two years.

google serp screenshot

You can create a list for anything relevant to your brand with everything from “Christmas shopping list” to “Christmas gifts for a two year old” to “Christmas dinner shopping list.”

Christmas gifts for a two year old serp results screenshot

Finally, to ensure an expedient online shopping experience, you want your checkout process to be simple and easy, especially when shopping cart abandonment is thought to be on the rise. 27% of shoppers in a 2017 survey abandoned their cart because the checkout process was too complex or the site was too slow.

To make the shopping experience simple, look for ways to ensure that shoppers can pick up where they left off the last time they were on your site or house their billing and account information on your site. The fewer steps they have to get through for the checkout and payment process, the better.

For American Shoppers Personalization and Efficiency Matter Most

In a separate study completed by Think with Google that looked at the behavior of U.S. shoppers, it was discovered that they’re feeling completely overwhelmed.

This study of U.S. shoppers found that:

  • They want what they want and will choose the brand that offers it.
  • They want their experience personalized.
  • They don’t want to waste time.

Since the holidays are a busy time for most people, U.S. buyers want their experiences to be effortless. In 2017, American shoppers made half of their online purchases on their smartphone, signaling that convenience is king.

In fact, for U.S. shoppers, convenience trumps brand loyalty, as one in three last-minute shoppers said they choose to purchase gifts based on how fast they’ll arrive. Plus, during the holiday season, U.S. shoppers are willing to try new brands. In 2017 alone, 46% of shoppers bought from a new brand.

With the desire for American consumers to get the greatest value for their dollar in the easiest way possible, there’s been an uptick in comparison shopping. Mobile searches for “brands like” and “stores like” have grown by 60% in the last two years. This means marketing campaigns should aim to capitalize on these opportunities to connect with and convert new customers.

Like Canadian shoppers, Americans greatly value customer experience. Offering a one-size-fits-all experience is no longer enough as shoppers are expecting you to anticipate their needs. More than half of shoppers want a personalized experience when shopping including relevant promotions from their preferred brands or reminders of where they left off when shopping.

Additionally, 40% of holiday shoppers want retailers to remember personal details such as purchase history and personal preferences to  make their shopping experience as easy as possible.

Even when it comes to searching for gifts, shoppers want results that are personalized to their needs. For example, searches for “gift +  XX year old” have grown by 100% over a two year period.

Takeaways for Your Black Friday Campaigns

Regardless of what country you’re targeting this Black Friday, it’s important to know that shoppers and their behaviour aren’t static. In Canada, Black Friday shoppers aren’t necessarily loyal to your brand. Canadians aren’t always sure in the early stages of shopping what brand they want to buy, while Americans are likely to try out new brands this holiday season.

Personalization is critical to the success of your marketing campaigns, but Americans are looking for a higher level of customization than Canadians with tailored promotions, recommendations and more.

No matter what side of the border they’re on, shoppers value efficiency in every step of the process, and they want a frictionless experience where they can find the answers they need to make their purchase and a simple checkout process.

Finally, keep in mind that these lessons apply year round. While Black Friday kicks off the holiday season, only about 18% of shoppers consolidate their shopping to Black Friday and the weekend following. This means you have the rest of the year to work on improving the shopping experience which will have a positive impact on your sales all 12 months of the year.

With Black Friday being such a major shopping day for both consumers and retailers, having a solid game plan in place is the key to ensuring that everyone wins. By using some of the key insights discussed in this post, you can prepare now to have your most successful Black Friday yet!


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, November 2018

Feature Image: Unsplash / Artem Bali

Chandal Nolasco Da Silva

Chandal Nolasco Da Silva

With nearly a decade of digital marketing experience, Chandal has created content strategies for both the biggest and sometimes the most unexpected markets, while developing strategic relationships with editors and publishers. Chandal contributes to some of the highest authority industry publications, has been featured in industry events and is thrilled to be Acquisio’s Content Director.

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