How “Canadian” is a product, exactly?
“Made in Canada” products must be made of a minimum 51 per cent Canadian material or content, while “Product of Canada” is the gold standard, with the product needing to be 98 per cent Canadian to get the certification. More than just what the product is made of, the direct costs of producing or manufacturing the goods must have been incurred in Canada to earn the designation.
In 2008 the “Made in Canada” vs. “Product of Canada” distinction was created to help aid consumers and highlight businesses that are achieving that 98 per cent threshold.
To protect consumers from misinformation, these standards are enforced by an independent law enforcement agency called the Competition Bureau. The Bureau helps protect and promote Canadian products and informs consumer choice in an ever-changing landscape of global goods and product marketing.
Shopping Canadian online
When shopping online, the first thing to look for is the domain name. The .CA domain name means the business is 100 per cent Canadian, because in order to register a .CA domain, individuals, businesses or organizations must meet CIRA’s Canadian Presence Requirements.
Research shows that Canadians tend to prefer shopping from .CA websites too, because it means they are likely to get more affordable goods, faster shipping times and the added benefit of supporting their community. In fact, Canadians are 4x more likely to prefer .CA than .com websites for shopping when they have a choice (research conducted in 2020 by the Strategic Counsel).
There are other advantages to buying from .CA websites too. Shopping in Canadian currency means getting the best possible price from the retailer and consumers won’t risk being surprised by a currency exchange. Many Canadian and U.S. websites offer the same prices in Canadian and U.S. dollars, yet if a Canadian purchases the goods on a U.S. site, they will be paying the additional conversion costs after the fact. It turns out these compelling reasons really add up and 65 per cent of Canadian internet users agree that Canadian businesses and organizations should use a .CA domain.
Using a .CA domain means Canadian businesses see a lift in search traffic as well. For searches in Canada about Canadian topics, search engines like Google tend to favour local results which can lead to increased website traffic and leads.
Why buying Canadian counts
Small independent businesses rely on their local community to survive, and many were hit especially hard by pandemic restrictions designed to keep everyone safe.
Many small businesses are more financially fragile than larger corporations and they weren’t designed to sustain many months of reduced revenues. This led to as many as 7 to 21 per cent of all businesses in Canada closing permanently as a result of this crisis according to estimates provided by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB).
According to a news release also published by CFIB, Canada’s small businesses now collectively owe over $135 billion as a result of the pandemic. “Small businesses need our support through this challenging time,” says Taylor Matchett, a research analyst at CFIB. “We must also keep in mind that businesses are much more fragile now than at the beginning of the pandemic, and every effort should be made to keep businesses open while managing the health implications of the virus.”
The case for shopping small extends far beyond times of crisis and is something that can be integrated into everyday life.
In one of the most impactful campaigns during the pandemic, the Toronto community of Roncesvalles assembled to drape all the windows on a popular shopping street with for lease signs. This unsettling preview of what post-pandemic life could look like reinvigorated the community to shop local and raised awareness about the fragility of these important businesses.