Canadians embrace AI for smarter retail choices

Rising costs prompt Canadians to use AI and digital platforms for better purchasing decisions and savings

Canadians embrace AI for smarter retail choices

Traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples – The EY Future Consumer Index highlights that as living costs rise, Canadians increasingly use artificial intelligence (AI) and digital platforms.

Canadians use these technologies to make informed purchasing decisions and find cheaper alternatives.

Elliot Morris, EY Canada Grocery and Consumer Packaged Goods Leader, notes that consumers are becoming more self-directed and tech-savvy, leveraging AI to discover savings and enhance convenience.

“We're seeing a shift towards independent consumerism, where people actively seek information, make decisions, and take actions autonomously,” said Morris.

Although only 18 percent of Canadians fully understand AI technology, 71 percent use it on e-commerce platforms, and 61 percent believe AI will improve online shopping in the future.

Trust in AI is growing, with 61 percent trusting it to offer tailored promotions and 53 percent trusting it to provide purchase reminders—a six percent increase since April 2023.

Claudiane Boulay, EY Canada Consumer Marketing Leader, explains that to engage today’s consumers effectively, retailers must prioritize AI integration. However, retailers also need to build authentic, trustworthy connections, emphasizing the importance of a human touch.

The survey reveals that 49 percent of respondents follow influencers for their valuable content, and 56 percent because the content reflects their views, fostering a sense of community.

This trust translates into purchases, with 61 percent buying products based on an influencer's recommendation, compared to only 21 percent responding to social media ads. Gen Z (34 percent) and millennials (39 percent) are leading this trend.

Boulay suggests that brands should carefully select influencers aligned with their values and audience aspirations to maximize return on investment while safeguarding their reputation.

Recent data breaches and leaks have increased concerns about data security. The survey shows that 64 percent of respondents worry about ID theft, up from 51 percent in April 2023.

Additionally, 60 percent are now concerned about data security, marking a nine percent increase since April 2023, and 59 percent worry about companies they share data with being hacked, up from 45 percent.

Morris emphasizes that data security is essential for consumer trust, urging companies to be transparent about data use and invest in cybersecurity to protect consumer information.