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Do Canadians and Americans Search Differently?

Do Canadians and Americans Search Differently?

Thursday, July 05, 2012
Rebecca Frantz

DAC/Kantar Media’s yearly media usage study looks at buying behavior separately in the U.S. and Canada. The two countries share a border, but do they share the same media usage habits? In many questions, the similarities between American and Canadian respondents were striking. However, there are still some notable differences between U.S. and Canadian shoppers.

Canadians and Americans named the same top four media sources

When asked which media source shoppers referenced first and second when looking for business information, both Canadians and Americans chose search engines as their #1 most used media source, followed by company websites, print yellow pages, and Internet yellow pages. When looking at media choices used by heading category (for example Auto Repair or Physicians), Americans and Canadians searched very similarly, although there was a trend of Americans reporting higher usage of search engines.  Search engines were also top for Canadians; however, they were slightly more likely to favor print and Internet yellow pages.  This is likely because Canadian media usage habits lag the U.S. by six months to a year.

Both Canadians and Americans use mobile to search for local businesses

Americans are more likely to use mobile to find local businesses. Our study found that 11% of Americans stated that they use mobile first or second when searching for business information, compared to only 4% of Canadians. Additionally, when asked why respondents search for products on their mobile phones, 14% of Americans said that their mobile device is sometimes their main Internet connection. Still, Canadian mobile phone usage is growing steadily, particularly usage of Smartphones to search for business information. A 2012 Google Insights study on mobile habits across the globe showed that 49% of Canadians search for business information on their mobile devices at least once a week, a figure that will likely grow as more and more Canadians adopt Smartphones.

Canadians and Americans do not always use mobile search to accomplish the same things

When asked about mobile searches, respondents from the U.S. and Canada mostly searched in the same fashion: both were more likely to search for local businesses than non-local businesses and both were more likely to search for specific business information such as phone numbers and hours of operation than surf the web on various businesses in a category.


Over half of Canadians and Americans have made a purchase based on a social media recommendation

Sixty percent of Canadians reported making a purchase based on a recommendation made on social networks, a figure slightly higher than the 54% of Americans that reported a social media influenced buy. Canadians and Americans were equally likely to ask a company a question on social media platforms, but Canadians were less likely to report satisfaction with company response, with 20% stating that they were less satisfied with responses received in the past.

Overall, Canadians and Americans use media sources based on their situation and opportunity. More robust presence of mobile phones for business information searches in the U.S. and higher reported print directory usage in Canada can be correlated to the options available in the respondents’ geographical locations. Factors such as data plan cost variation between the U.S. and Canada can help explain the increased mobile searches in the U.S. Furthermore, wider broadband availability in the U.S. can be responsible for the higher reports of search engine use by Americans.

Interested in finding out more? Contact us today!

Rebecca Frantz, Marketing Research Assistant

Rebecca Frantz
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