PMG Digital Made for Humans

6 Things Marketers Need to Know About Canadians

5 MINUTE READ | September 5, 2018

6 Things Marketers Need to Know About Canadians

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Abby Long

Abby is PMG’s senior managing editor, where she leads the company’s editorial program and manages the PMG Blog and Insights Hub. As a writer, editor, and marketing communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience, Abby's work in showcasing PMG’s unique expertise through POVs, research reports, and thought leadership regularly informs business strategy and media investments for some of the most iconic brands in the world. Named among the AAF Dallas 32 Under 32, her expertise in advertising, media strategy, and consumer trends has been featured in Ad Age, Business Insider, and Digiday.

Affectionately called the Great White North, Canada is known for many things but more notably, maple syrup, hockey, and the honorable prime minister, Justin Trudeau. With a robust $1.53 trillion GDP, the most important industries in the country are logging and oil with its sizable manufacturing sector responsible for contributing products to the global automobile, aircraft, and tech industries.

Toronto, Canada

Canada is also a leading country in terms of global trade influence (member of G7), and countrywide environmental conservation and social-responsibility initiatives (Canada is home to SeaLegacy and world-renowned environmental conservationists, Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier), and all because of its proud 36.29 million citizens; a smaller population than most expect from such a dominant global force.

It’s no secret that Canadian consumers love Canada-based brands, but by taking into consideration and implementing these key audience insights, we’re confident you can strategically reach a new audience in the Great White North.

Canadian Consumer Insights

Socially restless. Politically active. Young Canadians are digitally native, educated, and more progressive than previous generations. In fact, young Canadian millennials will be the biggest bloc of voters in the 2019 election, and with record-breaking voter turnout during the last election, they’re using their digital chops to inspire political action. Be on the lookout for emerging technology and platforms as it can become widely adopted across territories.

Digital First. The Great White North is frequently used as a ‘digital testing ground’ of sorts, with app testings, soft product launches, and digital experiments from top platforms like Facebook becoming a common occurrence. Since the country is big enough, developers can gain valuable insights and reliable data from users without investing too much capital in the testing phase (in comparison to testing across the United States, EMEA or APAC regions). Because of this, Canadians are willing to try new things whether it be an app, a platform or a new product (like yours!).

Made in Canada. Canadians love supporting and shopping local brands so much that the Business Development Bank of Canada reports that 97% of consumers prefer to buy locally to help the local economy with shoppers in Quebec and Atlantic Canada leading the charge. If you’re not a Canadian-based brand, don’t be afraid to explore collaborations or cooperative marketing opportunities with those popular local brands or influencers, especially if you’re new to the market. By partnering with familiar Canadian voices, you’ll get an inside track to building your Canadian audience and engage with longtime brand loyalists who are known to advocate for new-to-market products and offerings.

What this all means for brands. With a more proactive mindset, Canadians are searching for corporate visibility, social responsibility, and ethical companies with some studies reporting that 87% of Canadians believe that buying local is better for the environment, and 75% saying they would be willing to pay more for services or products from a socially-responsible company.

things to know about Canadian consumers

One size does not fit all. Across generations, Canadians consume media in a variety of ways which creates a fragmented media environment that forces advertisers to get creative to ensure optimal reach across media channels. The use of cable TV by young viewers is higher in Canada than it is in the US despite time spent on digital video being relatively the same. Our advice: take an omnichannel approach by advertising across platforms and ad types to make your mark and reach your target consumers.

YouTube is king. The majority of content is consumed online with YouTube reigning above all other platforms. According to ComScore, on a monthly basis, YouTube reaches over 84% of Canadians online. And in some studies, internet users spend over 15 hours a week with some type of digital video. Whether the intent is viewing how-to videos, keeping up with influencers, short creative series, or product reviews, since Canadians are using YouTube for a variety of reasons, advertisers can align their brand’s advertising strategies with consumer intentions to develop more meaningful partnerships and ad experiences.

Tuning out the world to tune in. As young Canadians account for the majority of the workforce, don’t just count on billboards to attract the attention of commuters. As of February 2018, over 41% of Canadians ages 18 to 34 are monthly podcast listeners. To meet the new demand of advertisers cracking into the industry, platforms are developing new ad unit types, but many listeners still prefer the host reading the ad. One thing to remember about Canada is that many residents speak French and English, or a mix of both so if French isn’t your native language, it may be worthwhile to invest in translation services.

Suggested Reading: Podcast Advertising 101

Our advice is to lean on what the podcast host/business knows about its audience when determining the language preferences to run with. Don’t be afraid to tune in beforehand and listen to an episode or two yourself to gain a better understanding of the podcast’s message, hear previous ads, and gauge who the podcast’s listeners might be.

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Whether you are wanting to initially establish your brand’s presence in Canada or refresh your marketing strategy for America’s northernmost neighbor, these insights are sure to make a difference, and we wish you the best of luck as you advertise your products to Canadian consumers. We’ve seen great successes in the Canadian market and we know you can too!

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