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The Canada Opportunity: Why Irish brands should consider the Canadian shopper

Never before has there been such a ripe opportunity for Irish brands and creators to consider Canada as their next market. Canada and Ireland share many similarities including an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong pro-business environment. Canada is a strong and stable economy that attracts talent from all over the world and has a GDP of over 1.8 trillion dollars, making it the world’s 10th largest economy. It has 15 free trade agreements with other countries, making it an incredibly attractive market for Irish businesses looking to expand globally or use it as a jumping-off point to the rest of North America. In the past year, exports to Canada increased by 11% to €452 million. The benefits of the Canadian business environment are clear. The greatest opportunity, however, lies with the diversity and openness of the Canadian shopper. And it’s an opportunity Irish brands and creators should consider.


Unique opportunities for Irish brands to reach the Canadian consumer


With a population of over 38 million, Canada is a strong option for Irish brands wishing to expand to new markets. But to make the most of the opportunity, it’s important to understand the Canadian consumer. Canadian shoppers are a diverse group with a high standard of living. They are known for placing value on high-quality materials, craftsmanship, environmental consciousness and social responsibility. But they also look for deals just as much as the next shopper.


Looking deeper, according to PWC’s Canadian Consumer Insights Survey 2022 nearly half of Canadians (46%) say how a company supports human rights, local communities and employee inclusion and diversity often or always influences their trust in a company or brand. These preferences offer a great opportunity for Irish businesses that can deliver on these attributes in their goods. The same report found that young Canadian consumers expect an increase in fashion expenditure (37%), the largest increase after grocery purchases. But Canadians are also not immune to recent global economic pressures. The Retail Council of Canada recently reported that retailers with lower prices, discounts/special offers, and free shipping will appeal to 81 per cent of consumers.


Still, the most critical of all factors in reaching Canadian consumers is the boom of e-commerce adoption in the country. While prevalent prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last few years has accelerated its adoption resulting in a population that is comfortable and accustomed to shopping online and from international retailers. According to the latest data provided by Statistics Canada, the total spending of Canadian online shoppers reached $32.80 billion in 2022. Now is an ideal time for Irish businesses to take advantage of the perks of cross-border commerce without investing in brick-and-mortar stores.


The benefits of Canada and Ireland’s economic agreement


With the implementation of the Comprehensive and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union, further opportunities to strengthen cooperation for Ireland have emerged. The elimination of tariffs on a wide range of goods has led to an increase in trade between the two countries. Additional benefits of CETA for Irish investors include the protection of intellectual property rights and the recognition of professional qualifications. All these benefits have resulted in easier and more economical commerce transactions for Irish companies.


We’ve already seen many Irish companies find opportunities with Canadian consumers. From Solvar, Fragrances of Ireland & Irelands Eye Knitwear — these are great examples of businesses that have seen the wonderful opportunities that the Canadian market can provide and have made use of the benefits of comprehensive economic agreements such as CETA.


A growing commercial relationship


As Irish companies continue to innovate across a wide range of goods and services, Canada remains a sound opportunity for Irish brands to export their products and reach relevant markets with a large consumer base. Canada has open-door policies in place when it comes to commerce that presents tremendous potential for any Irish business with the desire to expand globally. All these conditions, paired with a diverse and mixed population create the perfect consumer market for Ireland.


At Enterprise Ireland, we are passionate about helping Irish businesses take advantage of the opportunities that Canada has to offer and about strengthening the already successful relationship between both countries. As more Irish companies embark on the journey of global expansion, we are excited to accompany them and help them succeed.



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