International consumers want Canadian goods, PwC finds

08 October 2019 2 min. read
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There is a strong opportunity for Canadian brands to capitalize on overseas markets, according to a recent report from Big Four consultancy PwC. The survey of 3,521 consumers from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the UK found that 96% have a favourable view of Canada.

Canadian exports have traditionally landed in the US, with 71.5% of exports going to the southern neighbour in 2018 – up from 70.1% in 2009.

Since the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the EU was signed in 2017, Canada hasn’t particular capitalized in terms of exports to Europe. Exports to the UK decreased to $16.3 billion from $17.1 billion in 2016; exports to France remained flat at $3.4 billion; and exports to Germany rose slightly to $4.8 billion in 2018 from $4.1 billion in 2016.

Merchandise imports from the EU, meanwhile, jumped 16.2% in the CETA’s first year.

According to the PwC report, international consumers want more Canada. Ninety-six percent have a positive view of the country, and 40% say they’ve visited Canada. Two-thirds were at least generally aware of Canadian products, with awareness significantly higher among younger generations (who are more active on digital channels).

International consumers want Canadian goods, PwC finds

Seventy-two percent of respondents, meanwhile, said they had bought Canadian products. International consumers looked most favourably on Canadian furniture/home goods and food and beverages, with nearly 90% rating them to be of the same or better quality than domestically produced goods.

"The positive traits associated with being Canadian like trustworthiness, reliability, and quality have created a halo effect for Canadian goods. That's an easy shorthand for brands entering into new markets," Anita McOuat, PwC Canada's national leader for technology, media & telecom (TMT) and consumer markets, said.

The PwC report found that the top barrier to purchasing Canadian goods, unsurprisingly, was a lack of availability in the foreign market. The consultancy noted that the current geopolitical environment has made it an ideal time for international expansion.

The consulting firm recommends that Canadian firms contemplating expansion build out a growth strategy, set out online and digital channels and a strong supply chain, are upfront about their “Canadian connection,” explore partnerships with local retailers, and structure operations to minimize tax burdens.

"Canadian brands should look at partnerships with distributors as well as local and national retailers. Many customers prefer buying Canadian goods through a local or national retailer, so making sure the retailer has consistent availability and supply is key to effective international expansion," said Myles Gooding, PwC Canada's national retail & consumer leader.