Cansumer’s Research Methodology

Here we’ll outline our processes for researching products, collecting data, and generating ratings that go into making our product and service recommendations that result in the unbiased, trustworthy reviews you can rely on.

Our team

We are a team of industry specialists who have years of experience in our areas of expertise covering such topics as food and nutrition, camping and outdoors and beauty for publications that include HuffPost, Running Magazine and Glowsly. 

Besides being knowledgeable in our fields, we’re consumers too and are passionate about finding the best tool for any job and sharing it with our readers, whether it’s finding the best face mask for running errands, a humidity meter for tracking indoor comfort, or protein powder for gaining muscle. You can learn more about our editorial team on our About page.

Writers

Our content is a direct reflection of the people creating it. Cansumer writers are carefully recruited, vetted, and chosen. They are selected for their knowledge and their skill at communicating complex topics in clear and actionable language. We place a high priority on real world experience when hiring.

Every guide’s author is listed at the top of the page and links to their biography, which you can click to learn more about their credentials and social media presence.

Editing

Our editor-in-chief gives each and every resource an extra set of eyes and a rigorous edit before it ever goes live.

All writers and editors are required to uphold our editorial guidelines.

Types of content

The content we create and publish falls primarily into the following 4 formats:

  • Buyer’s guides: The best options of a particular product or service that are available to people living in Canada. eg. Best All-Season Tires in Canada
  • Reviews: An honest take on a product or service from the perspective of someone living in Canada. eg. EQ Bank Review
  • Lists: Comprehensive and methodically curated resource of the available options. eg. Streaming Services in Canada
  • Guides: A handbook in layman’s terms on the facts, steps and tips necessary to provide greater knowledge and understanding of a topic. eg. Tenant Insurance in Canada

Our process

1. Research

Our writers start by thoroughly scouring the internet to come up with a list of promising options in a category before deciding which ones to do a deep dive on.

This includes searching on major retailers in Canada such as Amazon and Canadian Tire, publications such as The Wirecutter and Consumer Reports as well as enthusiast groups and forums (eg. Reddit). We also analyze internet search data to determine which brands and products people are researching and most interested in. 

The resulting list is made up of top-rated items and brands we love and use at home. Then we take it one step further: we make an effort to find and feature small, Canadian businesses whenever possible.

2. Selection

Rather than relying on a single source or one-time anecdotal reviews, we believe consumers benefit most when opinions and recommendations are analyzed together with an objective methodology.

To find the best options in each category and narrow it down to a final set of products we compare side-by-side, we rely on several factors:

High rating

We cross-reference reviews on major retailers and publications to ensure each product is one of the top in its category.

Wide availability in Canada at stable prices

Each product must be readily and widely available in Canada, either through a major retailer or via low cost/free shipping across Canada (or at least a few provinces).

The number of products selected varies by category. On average, we list and review the top 10 products in a side-by-side comparison.

We check CamelCamelCamel, Keepa and retailer’s websites to ensure that the products selected don’t cost an arm and a leg more than they do elsewhere. There are many highly rated items available in Canada through Amazon, but only with a massive markup tacked on by a reseller.

Personal experience

We also consider the collective recommendations and experience of our researchers, writers and editors and through interviews gathered by talking to industry experts.

Note on conflict of interest: Our review ethics are crucial to us. We do not accept recommendations or reviews from anyone who has a conflict with the interests of our readers in reading objective and unbiased reviews.

3. Data collection

Once we’ve narrowed down our list of contenders we gather data about each to generate a comparison table – a detailed spreadsheet that spells out the strengths and weaknesses of each product, captures the results of our reporting, and it provides an illuminating way for our picks to emerge and to compare products. They’re the foundation of the guides readers see on Cansumer.

We don’t expect readers to make a complicated comparison chart every time they need to buy an everyday product, so we do the research, note-taking and ranking for you. We are passionate in the belief that our rigorous analysis will help you choose the things that will actually solve your problems and make your life better.

We gather data from a combination of the following sources:

Consumer ratings and reviews

We draw data from reviews and feedback from verified owners of the products who can provide firsthand knowledge and experiences. We pore over customer reviews on online retailers to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the things we’re assessing. We vet reviews using Fakespot and/or ReviewMeta to ensure the high rating is real and not due to bulk fake or paid for reviews.

Professional ratings and reviews

We read competitors’ recommendations and reviews, but only from product review websites we consider credible and have:

  • A detailed, transparent review methodology
  • A credited author with real/credible LinkedIn/social media
  • Not been compensated (financially or otherwise) for their feedback
  • Not been affiliated with any existing product brands.

Features and pricing

We collect product specifications and company information for our brand and model profiles.

These details include, but are not limited to:

  • Current price-points
  • Country of origin
  • Material composition
  • Available sizes
  • Dimensions and weight
  • Product availability, including online and brick-and-mortar sellers
  • Care instructions
  • Company history, including years in business and contact information
  • Shipping and delivery policies
  • Trial and return policies
  • Warranty information

Forums/discussion boards

We conduct an extensive search for each product review by reading legitimate threads discussing them in online communities, then ensure it is valid and relevant to our research.

Interviewing industry experts

Whenever possible, we also conduct interviews and consult with the best sources around, including subject-matter experts, ranging from dietitians, lifeguards and fitness instructors to ensure we’re approaching each review with the most informed evaluations possible.

Survey of opinions

When ranking major categories or entire industries, we send out questionnaires with queries to the participating companies or organizations and any relevant stakeholders to collect their sentiment.

Cansumer comments and reviews

We encourage all Cansumer.ca visitors to share their stories and experiences with us, and greatly appreciate your feedback. We incorporate comments and reviews from our users into our research and selection process.

4. Analysis

While selecting the candidates for consideration, we also develop an evaluation plan which outlines what we consider the most relevant product specs, features, and criteria.

Criteria

The criteria are the 4 to 6 categories that we believe effectively capture the product’s performance and usefulness. We rank these in order of importance based on our experience and readers’ preferences to provide the weighting of each.

For example:

  • Fees
  • Features
  • Customer support
  • Ease of use
  • Safety
  • Sustainability

Metrics

The metrics are the measurable elements that make up the assessment of the criteria.

  • Fees
    • Length of free trial
    • Pricing structure
    • Discounts
  • Customer support
    • Response/wait times
    • Contact options
    • Documentation
  • Ease of use
    • Installation/application time
    • Errors
    • Cancellation process
  • Safety
    • Certifications
    • Harmful ingredients
    • Recalls and alerts
  • Sustainability
    • Environmental awards
    • Corporate structure
    • Carbon commitments

Use cases

We recognize that not every consumer’s priorities are the same. Some people don’t want to have the best power cables, or the best laptop, but they may really prioritize having really nice sheets – and they adjust their budget accordingly.

Our goal is to guide our readers to products that provide great value for the price and suit their individual needs and budget.

  • Best overall: a quality product that offers the most value for the money at a reasonable price. The option that we think most people should buy. Something that does 80% of what the best, most expensive thing does, but costs less.
  • Best budget: the product that gets the job done at the most affordable price. Often off-brand, plainly designed and may not last more than a few years. The option for when saving money is a top priority. This may also mean buying used, repurposing or doing it yourself.
  • Best premium: The top-of-the-line, ideally buy-it-for-life product that will deliver lasting value. Often from a brand that is known for consistent quality and great design. The option for those who really care about the particular product and are willing to splurge.
  • Best for X: goes to those products that stand out for specific applications or user personas and our review will explain the details of why it might be the right fit and in what situations.

Personas

In addition to the best overall, budget and premium picks, we take specific use cases and search data into account to come up with additional buyer personas that reflect how real consumers truly use the product.

For each persona, we use the same data and re-weight the features that matter most for that use case.

5. Testing

Whenever feasible, we test as many products as we can (buying the items ourselves or requesting test units from companies), including established models and recent releases (newer is nice, but it isn’t always best). We never make the decision of whether or what to test based on getting a free review unit.

Our reviewers put the products through detailed, hands-on side by side tests, and carefully assess performance, ease of use, and reliability and score each product across a range of weighted categories to see how they hold up to the competition and make sure they can stand up to safety and quality claims. 

This testing goes beyond typical use – we put every product through its paces. Here are a few examples of tests we’ve conducted:

  • The Salt Test: In our search for the best humidity meters, we placed 8 together in a ziploc bag with a cup of salt water for 2 days to see how close to 75% they would read and how quickly they responded to the change in humidity.

6. Calculating ratings

Our scoring methodology is based on a composite analysis of the ratings and reviews published by credible third-party professional and consumer review sources.

Quality comes from how good something is at being itself. A product’s telos is a term used by philosopher Aristotle to refer to the full potential or inherent purpose of an object. For example, the telos of a knife is to cut, so a knife that cuts well is a good knife. 

We keep our ratings system simple and calculate an average using the five-star system. The assigned rating should reflect how well a product or service meets its telos (purpose) for the use case of most Canadians relative to options in the same category and answers the question: does the product offer the consumer less than, the same as, or more than the others in the segment?

The scale is as follows:

  • 5 – excellent; much better than
  • 4 – good; better than
  • 3 – adequate; equal to
  • 2 – inadequate; less than
  • 1 – poor; much less than
RankingCriterion5 excellent; far better than4 good; better than3 adequate; equal to2 inadequate; less than1 poor; far less than
1Efficiency
2Interior features
3Performance
4Safety features
5Space & Utility
6Value

7. Writing reviews

Finally, we list the products picked for each buyer persona or use case, explain why they were chosen and review them.

We write as if we were telling a friend about something we just bought that we’re really excited about, and we treat each recommendation carefully, as if we were reaching into that same friend’s pocket and pulling out their money for them.

When appropriate, we also do our best to tell you what not to buy, like air fryers (stick with your convection oven), dedicated pet cameras (just a standard security camera will do the trick), or foot spas (a bucket of warm water will work just fine).

Our sources

In order to provide our readers with authoritative content, we exclusively use reputable, data-driven sources. We will never publish a fact or data point without reviewing it for authenticity and bias and we always link to and/or cite our credible sources to back up what we say before offering anecdotal information.

Sources we use are limited to the following:

  • Legitimate industry organizations and associations
  • Reports and polling data published by government agencies (Stats Canada, Health Canada)
  • Data that originates from college- and university-level research
  • Systematic reviews of peer-reviewed journals

Updating

Publishing a recommendation isn’t the end. We know how frustrating it can be to do your research on a product only to add it to your cart and see that it’s out of stock. Our team works hard to keep our reviews up-to-date and accurate. That means evaluating newer models, removing ones that have been discontinued and frequently checking to ensure items aren’t out of stock to provide you with the best user experience possible.

Responding to readers

Readers may contact us by email or leaving a comment on an article. We try our best to respond to reader inquiries and comments in a timely manner. If you leave a comment on one of our pages, or you have a specific question that requires our immediate attention, we will respond as quickly as possible. We value our readers, and we know that it’s important to have open communication. 

We are a small, independent company made up of real people who truly care about audience feedback and concerns. So you can expect that we’ll be here for you if/when you need us.

There is always room for us to improve. If you have questions, comments, or opinions you’d like to share with our team of editors, please feel free to email us at notes@cansumer.ca.