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Traditional Media Still Holds Sway for Shoppers in Canada

Mobile moves consumers toward digital sources for shopping info

Although the percentage of total media ad spending devoted to digital reached 22% last year in Canada, according to eMarketer, consumers in the country still have their eyes on traditional media.

A December 2012 survey from BrandSpark found that the greatest percentage of internet users in Canada noticed advertising on TV (85%), in direct mail (77%) and in print magazines (75%). The last two sources in particular have shown waning influence in the US.

Among the digital channels, search engines ranked highest; 64% of consumers said they noticed these ads. Just over half of consumers also reported noticing online banners and ads on social networks.

Shoppers and buyers showed an even stronger pull toward traditional media. For discovering new products, respondents considered in-store samples, direct mail samples and retail circulars the most useful channels.

Digital fared particularly poorly among those seeking new products. Email newsletters ranked highest among the digital channels, considered at least somewhat useful by about half of internet users. Only 7% of internet users considered online search ads extremely useful for discovering new products.

For those going grocery shopping in Canada, print was again No. 1. Nine out of 10 consumers used circulars to get ideas for shopping trips. Over one-third of shoppers also turned to recipe books, more than the 30% who consulted websites.

This is particularly striking. While not a direct comparison, trends in the US highlight the skew in Canada toward traditional sources. A September study from Fleishman-Hillard and The Motherhood Inc. found that nearly four out five US moms—often the chief grocery shoppers of the home—used websites to find recipes; a smaller group, 68% of moms, reached for print cookbooks.

As consumers in Canada adopt smartphones, however, the mobile internet will drive more shopping behavior online. The study found that among smartphone users who already conducted mobile shopping activities in-store, looking up product information was the most common action taken.

Old forms of communication mattered here too, though. Contacting friends or family members for their recommendation ranked as the second most common in-store smartphone shopping activity, above comparing prices online or looking up online reviews, according to the BrandSpark study. And talking to a confidante beat out getting a recommendation via social media by a particularly wide margin.

As retailers seek out shoppers in Canada, digital channels will play an increasing role, but for the time being, brands cannot rule out traditional means of engaging consumers.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Do People Watch Video Differently on Mobile Phones vs. Tablets?” “For B2B Marketing, Email Should Be Targeted and Personalized,” and “In the UK, Quality of Broadband Factors Into Home Buying.”

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