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Canadians Take Food Fact-Finding Online

Internet users in Canada plug in to inform their mealtime decisions

December 4, 2013

Internet users in Canada have been paying closer attention to the food they purchase and consume—from sourcing to nutritional content and even discounts. In a November 2013 Ipsos study, a third of respondents, especially those over 55 years old, reported taking special measures to find food grown within 100 km, super foods, free-range chicken and eggs, and organically produced food and beverages.

As technology has evolved, the ways internet users in Canada learn and make decisions about food have evolved along with it. Increasingly, food research takes place online—whether it’s browsing for recipes on websites or using location services on mobile devices to find a restaurant in the area in real-time. Over half of those surveyed said they searched the internet for specific recipes in the past month. For women, the number was even higher at 64%.

Leading Food-Related Digital Activities Conducted Among Internet Users in Canada, by Demographic, Sep 2013 (% of respondents in each group)

Almost a third also mentioned watching reality cooking shows or watching a food-focused cable channel. And two in ten respondents went to social media to pass along praise for food, “liking” a food or beverage webpage.

Mobile users also used the internet to find restaurant reviews to help decide where to eat, further emphasizing the importance of positive presence on review sites such as Yelp, well-crafted webpages, and easily accessible menu information. The high penetration of mobile devices with app-downloading capabilities further encourages browsing as part of the food discovery process, enabling respondents—especially men ages 18 to 34—to download apps to find their next meal to find nearby restaurants and vet restaurants by reviews during the meal decision-making process.

Mobile Users in Canada Who Use Apps to Assist with Food-Related Activities, by Demographic, Sep 2013 (% of respondents in each group)

What exactly are smartphone users finding on the restaurant mobile apps? Anything from menu information to location and sometimes details like nutritional information. Apps also empower users to integrate the app with their social media accounts and order food directly through the app—for delivery or pickup.

Features Available on Mobile Apps of Restaurants Worldwide, 2013 & 2014 (% of respondents)

Mobile apps and location services are also popular among young Canadians perusing supermarket shelves. Smartphone users ages 18 to 34 revealed they would be open to using—and would find useful—apps geared toward helping them choose items while grocery shopping. Having devices at their fingertips enables plugged-in Canadians to complete food research through every step of the decision-making process, highlighting promise for mobile marketing efforts in this space.

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