Retailers Among Canada’s Most Trusted Brands Amid COVID-19: Study

The retail industry in Canada fares very well when it comes to gaining the trust of Canadian consumers during the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

A recent survey by Field Agent Canada indicated that Canadians like the hard efforts made by retailers to keep the food supply chain safe and plentiful and that is gaining favour with consumers.

Jeff Doucette, General Manager of Field Agent Canada, said the company asked 603 Canadians which three brands were gaining their trust during the current crisis.

Stocking up on disinfectants to prevent the spread of germs during virus outbreak

The following are the brands mentioned by Canadians:

  1. Lysol, 23.1 per cent;

  2. Costco, 15.1 per cent;

  3. McDonald’s, 11.6 per cent;

  4. Walmart, 10.9 per cent;

  5. Tim Hortons, 9.1 per cent;

  6. Superstore, 9.0 per cent;

  7. Loblaws, 8.5 per cent;

  8. President’s Choice, 6.8 per cent;

  9. Clorox, 5.6 per cent;

  10. Sobeys, 5.6 per cent;

  11. Amazon, 5.5 per cent;

  12. Purell, 5.0 per cent;

  13. Shoppers Drug Mart, 4.6 per cent; and

  14. Kirkland-Signature, 4.3 per cent.

“Once you got past Lysol, they were very retail and food service centric,” said Doucette. “Lysol I think just because people are cleaning the heck out of their homes, trying to keep this bug away. That’s the brand they’ve been turning to. The other CPG (consumer packaged goods) brand that is in the top 10 is Clorox. Both of those have that germ-killing heritage in their brand. People have just been turning to them as go-to products to help keep their homes clean.

“It was a bit of a surprise to me to be honest that there were so many retail brands integrated in there. Looking at the data, the things that stand out to me is one COSTCO is the second most mentioned brand in that study. When you think about COSTCO, we’ve seen the lineups outside the stores. We’ve seen the volumes there. But I think they’ve been really good at doing the social distancing and controlling the amount of items that people were stockpiling or trying to do that. It did surprise me that they were the highest mentioned retailer just given that they only have 100 stores across Canada and you have to have a membership to shop there. But definitely a brand that people have gained trust in over the past few weeks.”

Costco Wholesale store in south San Francisco bay area

Doucette said one of the things that retailers have been really good at - what’s been strong - is that they’ve kept the wheels on the food supply chain despite huge surges in volume.

“It’s really been amazing to see how the retailers - and the suppliers - but the retailers are the front lines of that, have really stepped up to manage a huge surge of volume as people stopped eating in restaurants and started eating all their meals at home,” said Doucette.

“That was one piece. The second piece was really the communication that we’ve seen. We’ve seen amazing corporate communications. I regularly get emails from Michael Medline (President and CEO of Empire Company which owns Sobeys) or Galen Weston (Executive Chairman of Loblaw Companies) just kind of keeping people up to date on what is happening.

McDonalds worker holding bag of fast food.

“And I think the third piece is they’ve taken customer safety and staff safety really serious and you’ve seen that evolve over time. It might be the pathways marked on the floor or it might be the screens that are put up in front of the cashiers. All of those things are adding up to really improve the brand image in the minds of Canadians. They’ve really stepped up.”

Doucette found it interesting that Amazon was not in the top 10 list.

“I’m not an e-commerce skeptic but I like to temper the idea of e-commerce. We know that e-commerce is up and people are ordering from Amazon and they are ordering groceries online from Walmart and Loblaws. But at the end of the day the retailers that had the highest levels of trust or gains in trust were bricks and mortar retailers with stores,” he said.

“Amazon is on the list. They’re number 11 out of 14. But they’re not number one. I always like to temper that shift of people’s train of thought that says everyone is starting to buy their groceries online and from Amazon. That’s not what’s playing out. This shows me at the end of the day that brick and mortar retail is still very important to Canadians and they are brands that they trust.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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