Leger Study Ranks In-Store Experience at Ontario Retailers: Interview

Retail industry news delivered directly to you. Subscribe to Retail-Insider.

For consumers, the in-store experience has become increasingly more important in how they decide where to shop and spend their dollars.

This year’s WOW Study, by Leger, surveyed 13,000 Ontarians about their in-store experience at 153 retailers across 20 different sectors. 

The top retailers for best in-store experience in 2021 were:

  1. Lush
  2. Saje Natural Wellness
  3. Purdys Chocolatier
  4. Nespresso
  5. Lee Valley Tools
  6. Yves Rocher
  7. M&M Food Market
  8. Ren’s Pets
  9. Lego

Christian Bourque, Executive Vice President and Senior Partner at Leger, said the theory and science behind customer experience is still evolving. 

Christian Bourque

“It used to be that we believed as market researchers if you as a customer are satisfied you will come back. We were only aiming to jump this high for satisfied customers. But very soon we figured out that being satisfied is not a predictor of loyalty, of coming back, of recommending the store, of making something out of your brand that was bigger than what it actually was. So that’s where people said you can’t only make people just be satisfied with their experience,” said Bourque.

“In order to predict the future behaviour of people, you need to go one step beyond. That’s where customer experience came in and people said you need to look at how people experience your store. You need to deliver above and beyond just making them satisfied. You need to have the proper visuals, colours, smells, sounds that basically appeal to your target audience. So that’s where the whole customer experience became very popular probably 10 or 15 years ago. 

“Now we’re slowly moving into a new sphere which they call the human experience to what extent people are relating to what’s in the store, relating to the brand. The brand corresponds to what they want and need in terms of quality of life that suits their lifestyle but also their values, beliefs and their fundamental needs. We believe we’ll be going beyond customer experience and now into human experience moving forward.”


The WOW study also looked at the drivers of a sense of belonging: a person has a sense of belonging when they identify with a store and embrace its values, mission, actions and the image it conveys. A strong sense of belonging gives the impression of belonging to an organization, being part of its community, supporting it and contributing to its development. A sense of belonging is also associated with a strong emotional connection and translates into commitment, said Leger.

“This dimension of the in-store customer experience has the greatest impact on recommending a retailer across all sectors. There is also a very strong correlation between a sense of belonging and the WOW Index. The top retailers in this year’s ranking all scored well on this dimension compared to other players in their sector,” said the report. 

“An excellent way for a retailer to create a sense of belonging is to positively contribute to its customers’ quality of life. Retailers can adopt strategies to reduce stress, make customers happy, offer flexibility, be available, etc. Remedy’sRx, Kiehl’s, Nova Cannabis and Saje Natural Wellness are examples of retailers that stand out on this driver. Corresponding to its customers’ values and beliefs (production methods, packaging, product type, etc.) is also an important driver of a sense of belonging. Zero-waste retailers, those with responsible packaging and those in the eco-friendly and organic universe, such as Lush, Yves Rocher and MAC stand out on this driver.

“Having happy, committed employees who are passionate about their work also contributes to creating a strong sense of belonging: Lululemon, Lego and Lee Valley Tools perform very well on this driver. The sectors with the highest sense of belonging are beauty, cannabis, men’s clothing, pharmacy and specialty boutiques.”

The WOW Digital Study also evaluated the online customer experience in Canada of 184 Canadian websites and apps on 22 dimensions, allowing companies to identify their strengths and weaknesses at each stage of the online shopping experience, from online shopping to delivery.


In 2021, the companies that offered the best online customer experience in Canada are:

  1. Lufa Farms
  2. Lush
  3. Simons
  5. Nespresso
  6. SAQ
  7. Jack & Jones
  8. Lee Valley Tools
  9. Apple Store
  10. Sephora

In the overall study, Leger also identified the Most-Appreciated Mobile Apps.

“The Simons mobile app tops the ranking of the apps Canadians appreciate most. It stands out with respect to several aspects: its visual appeal, the personalization of the customer experience and the presence of interesting additional content. CIBC’s app, ranked second, is especially appreciated for its usability and the relevance of the features it offers,” said the report.

“Finally, the SAQ app, which came in 3rd place, is appreciated for its discounts and promotions, its visual appeal, the relevance of its functionalities and the level of personalization of the customer experience.

Desjardins is in 4th place in the ranking of the mobile apps most appreciated by Canadians, while Tangerine, Brunet, Lush and Nespresso are all tied in 5th place. Finally, Chocolats Favoris came in 9th place, and Amazon Canada came in 10th.”

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 is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

More From The Author

Iconic Flo’s Diner in Toronto’s Yorkville Forced to Close After 33...

Retail Insider interviewed Flo’s co-owner who discusses the “heart wrenching” situation where he is being forced to close his business that began on Bellair Street in 1991.

Anatomy of a Leader: Teresa Spinelli, Owner of Alberta-Based Italian Centre...

Spinelli discusses her leadership of the popular retailer which has expanded over the years, describing how she struggled to run the company at first and grew to love it.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

No posts to display

Follow us


all-time Popular