Canada – Online Powerhouse or Ecommerce Laggard?

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eMarketer, one of my favourite sources for internet research, recently released an update to their research on Canadians and the Internet, Canada Internet: Users and Usage.
It is FASCINATING!  Aside from covering topics like the Canadian economy, broadband penetration, online audience demographics and activities of Canadians (including some great stats just about Quebecers), the prose parts of the report are engaging and thought-provoking.  As a Canadian marketer with clients who are heel-dragging about moving into commerce or social media, I want to staple a copy of this report to every executive boardroom door.
Some choice quotes and charts:

In many respects,Canada is an online powerhouse. According to recent data,it has a higher proportion of the population online than the United States.In broadband penetration and affordability, it rivals the US and many other developed countries. Young Canadians are avid,experienced online users. Internet access in the workplace is beginning to catch up with healthy rates of household connection. Canadian consumers spend above-average time online and count themselves among the world’s keenest bloggers.

But this picture obscures significant variations between younger and older Internet users and between regions. E-commerce,for example,has been slow to take off in the absence of retailers and online offerings that genuinely address Canadian tastes and requirements. Canada’s mobile networks and operators are not as well prepared as they should be to supply reliable data services at competitive prices. These and other social, technical and commercial obstacles threaten to hold Canada back when the country should be setting online standards for North America and the rest of the world.

Implications for Search Marketers
Information about Canadians and search really bring into high-relief the importance of initiatives like Profectio’s Search Engine Marketing survey.

A report by Google Canada and Media-Screen has yielded an even more striking statistic:98% of Canadians now search the Internet looking to purchase products and services. This kind of search is part of roughly five hours that Canadians spend on the Internet during a typical five-day week,Monday to Friday.
Emarketersearch

The Léger Marketing report cited earlier found that a large number of Canadians turn to the Internet even for information that might be available from local newspapers,radio stations or other offline sources close to hand.

Blogging and Social Networking
We are a nation of bloggers and social networkers.  Not surprising given the seeming obsession with Facebook.

Emarketersocial

Mobile Internet Usage
Alas, we are not a nation of active mobile internet users, compared to other countries whose technology profile mirrors our own.  While government statistics indicated the over 55% of Canadians had a mobile phone at the end of 2006, a much smaller percentage of Canadians accessed the internet over these devices.  One of the reasons?  The high cost of data transfer.

Historically,Canadian mobile operators have prioritized voice over data traffic. Current networks are slow when it comes to data transfer,and operators typically charge subscribers by the amount of data they download or upload, which makes services prohibitively expensive.

Several industry observers have commented on this state of affairs, pointing out that Canada, often a leader in technology and civic responsibility, is falling behind the rest of the world in catering for mobile data. … Prices of monthly data plans in Canada are higher even than those in some Eastern European, Asian and African nations.

Emarketermobile

Overall, a really interesting, data (and implication) rich report.  And I didn’t even touch on the sections that cover ecommerce, online gaming, confidence and trust in online content and Canadians uses of online audio and video.  Good stuff!
The full report is available for purchase as a pdf download from eMarketer’s site.

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One thought on “Canada – Online Powerhouse or Ecommerce Laggard?

  1. Garry - PPC-Advice.com

    Marketing to Canadians online is just plain better. Better click through, better (and quicker) conversion, better ROI, and less competition. However, things may take a turn now that the Loonie is so strong. I’ve recently blogged about the strength of the Loonie and how US advertisers can cash in on Canadian bargain hunters. Check it out.

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