Reaching the Consumers

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Consumer Profile

Consumer Profile
Canada population is estimated at 37.7 million people in 2022 according to UN data. The median age of the Canadian population is 41.8 years as of 2022. 66.5% of the population is between 14 and 65 years old, 15.8% are young people and 17.6% are seniors. The number of households is increasing but their individual size is decreasing: one-person households are the most numerous, followed by couples with children. On average, there are 2.9 Canadians per household. Women are slightly more numerous (50.3%) than men. 81.3% of the population is urban, and is concentrated in the south of the country, close to the border with the United States. The main cities by population are Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. About 20% of the Canadian population are recent immigrants. The level of education is high. In Canada, 91% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, well above the OECD average of 78%. The occupations most represented in the population are sales and service occupations (24%), business occupations, finance and administration (16%), trades, transportation and equipment operators, and related occupations (14%).
Purchasing Power
According to the Word Bank, GDP per capita PPP was estimated at $ 47, 567 in 2022. In 2022, the median after-tax income was CAD 54,630, in slight decrease from its 2018 level. In Canada, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 34,421 a year, more than the OECD average of USD 30 490 a year. Consumer spending increased slightly in the second semester of 2020, according to Statistics Canada . Income inequality remains significant, the top 20% of the population earn about six times as much as the bottom 20%. (Gini index for Canada is 0.33, 1 representing the highest level of inequality). Women with the same experience, socio-economic and demographic background earn approximately $7,200 less annually than their male counterparts. Management occupations are the highest paid, while public utility manufacturing, sales and service trades are the lowest paid. The highest wages are in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, while the wages in the provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are at lower levels.
Consumer Behaviour
Canada’s population has a high and diversified level of mass consumption (most of the people consume a large amount of goods and services other than satisfaction of basic needs). Purchases are mostly made in malls, mass retailers and retail parks. Neighbourhood malls are no longer popular. Consumer confidence in Canada continued to increase as it quickly approaches pre-pandemic levels. Online shopping is increasing, but Canadians tend to prefer hybrid shopping (browse online, shop in-store, order online, pick-up in-store). According to latest data provided by Statistics Canada, the total spending of Canadian online shoppers reached $32.80 billion in 2022, compared to $18.9 billion in 2012, with nearly 84% of Internet users buying goods or services online. Products distributed throughout the country are mainly produced by international brands. Immigration continues to influence consumer behaviour, especially with regards to food products, and imported products are considered to be attractive. The demand for local products “made in Canada” is a consumption trend which is still in development. The government has put in place several regulations to regulate this nascent trend. In addition, consumers have created the website Made in Canada (https://madeinca.ca) to catalogue all Canadian brands in support of the domestic economy.
Moreover, consumers are increasingly looking for custom-made solutions that fit their specific needs, nearly 80% of consumers want personalized products and services in 2022. Health concerns are rising and health awareness is growing among Canadian consumers and will continue to accelerate as the population ages. In 2019, Canadians spent an annual average of $935 per capita on health and wellness. Canadians are increasingly concerned about sustainable consumption, and the purchases of local, ethical or organic products are on the rise, especially for food and clothing. The second hand market is also growing. Canadian consumers are more willing to buy at a higher price tag if food items are more sustainable. In 2021, the trend for locally produced is particularly high among 18–24-year- olds, with 75% citing this as important, followed by 70% for organic and 55% for sustainable packaging. Collaborative platforms are increasing in popularity for accommodations (Airbnb), transport (Uber), music, crowd-funding etc.
 

Household Consumption Expenditure

Sector Percentage
Housing, water, energy, gas 23.8%
Transport 16.0%
Food and soft drinks 9.0%
Insurance and financial fees 8.8%
Entertainment and culture 8.2%
Accommodation and restaurant 7.6%
Housing equipment 5.4%
Health 4.3%
Others (clothing, shoes, alcohol and tobacco, communication, education etc.) 16.8%

Source: Statistics Canada, 2017.

Consumer Recourse to Credit
Debit cards are used for medium value transactions and credit cards are used for larger transactions. Consumer credit in Canada has risen sharply since 2012, particularly for automobiles and consumer goods. The average consumer (non-mortgage) debt was CAD 8,539.50 in 2017. The most common forms of credit are cash loans for purchases paid in monthly instalments (usually large items such as furniture or cars, but also gasoline and other non-durable consumer goods). Similarly, aggregate household debt, which includes mortgages, margin loans and other forms of non-personal consumer loans, grew at an annual rate of 1.8% over the past five-year period. Borrowing has increased at a higher rate than population growth, exploding the level of indebtedness per capita. Older people accumulate debt at a faster rate than the rest of the population, except for real estate debt. However, the gradual rise in interest rates may cause a slowdown in consumer credit.
Growing Sectors
Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences sector, pet feeds and services, housing and cleaning services, housing maintenance and repair products, garden products, plants and flowers, recreational and sporting services, education, ready-made meals and food delivery services are growing markets. (Source: Statistics Canada)
Consumers Associations
Consumer Protection Office in Québec (OPC)
Alberta Consumers' Association
Consumers Council
 

Population in Figures

Total Population:
38,005,238
Urban Population:
81.6%
Rural Population:
18.4%
Density of Population:
4 Inhab./km²
Men (in %)
49.5%
Women (in %)
50.4%
Natural increase:
1.09%
Medium Age:
39.0
Ethnic Origins:
In the last century, the majority of Canadians were of British and French origin, in addition to indigenous peoples.
However, successive waves of immigrants from many different countries have considerably diversified Canada's ethnic makeup: Canadian about 32%, about 32% from the British Isles, French 13% and North American Indian about 6.2%. The other most frequently reported ancestries are German, Chinese, Italian, Indian, Ukrainian, Dutch, Polish and Filipino.
Four out of ten people mentioned more than one ancestry because it is possible to report more than one origin in Canadian statistics. (Statistics Canada)
 

Population of main metropolitan areas

City Population
Toronto 5,429,600
Montreal 3,519,600
Vancouver 2,264,900
Calgary 1,237,700
Edmonton 1,062,700
Ottawa-Gatineau 989,600
Winnipeg 712,000
Quebec 705,100
Hamilton 693,700
Kitchener 470,000

Source: Citypopulation.de, Latest available data - Latest available data.

 

Age of the Population

Life Expectancy in Years
Men:
80.0
Women:
84.2

Source: United Nations, Population division, World Population Prospects: The 2009 revised population database., 2009 - Latest available data.

 
Distribution of the Population By Age Bracket in %
Under 5:
5.3%
6 to 14:
11.0%
16 to 24:
13.3%
25 to 69:
60.5%
Over 70:
9.8%
Over 80:
3.9%

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Prospects 2010 - Latest available data.

 

Household Composition

Total Number of Households (in million) 13.3
Average Size of the Households 2.6 Persons
Percent of Households of 1 Person 27.6%
Percent of Households of 2 Persons 34.1%
Percent of Households of 3 or 4 Persons 30.0%
Percent of Households of 5 Persons and More 8.4%

Source: UN data, 2013 - Latest available data.

 

Consumption Expenditure

Purchasing Power Parity 202020212022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)
Purchasing Power Parity (Local Currency Unit per USD) 1.191.231.261.251.25

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, Latest Available Data

Definition: Purchasing Power Parity is the Number of Units of a Country's Currency Required to Buy the Same Amounts of Goods and Services in the Domestic Market as USD Would Buy in the United States.

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 
Household Final Consumption Expenditure 201820192020
Household Final Consumption Expenditure
(Million USD, Constant Price 2000)
976,679992,852933,980
Household Final Consumption Expenditure
(Annual Growth, %)
2.51.7-5.9
Household Final Consumption Expenditure per Capita
(USD, Constant Price 2000)
26,35026,41024,575

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data

 
Consumption Expenditure By Product Category as % of Total Expenditure 2017
Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 24.1%
Transport 15.7%
Miscellaneous goods and services 14.2%
Food and non-alcoholic beverages 9.1%
Recreation and culture 8.1%
Restaurants and hotels 7.2%
Furnishings, households equipment and routine maintenance of the house 5.5%
Health 4.4%
Clothing and footwear 4.1%
Alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics 3.3%
Communications 2.6%
Education 1.7%

Source: OECD Stats, Latest available data

 
Information Technology and Communication Equipment, per 100 Inhabitants 2012
Telephone Subscribers 75.3
Main Telephone Lines 51.9
Cellular mobile subscribers 75.3
Internet Users 86.8
PCs 94.3

Source: International Telecommunication Union, Latest available data

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Marketing opportunities

 

Media in Which to Advertise

Television
Television advertising concerns mainly the 35 to 49 age group. Compared to exclusively watching television, the combination of TV, printed matter and internet maximises Canadians' intention to buy by more than 47%. However, traditional mass market Canadian advertising like TV is very costly. With no big events such as the Olympics or elections in 2017, Canadian ad sales on TV are estimated to drop by 1% to CAD 3 billion.

Main Televisions
CBC
CTV TV Network
SRC, Radio and television
TVA, Leading French-speaking TV network in America
Press
Printed advertising still has a very strong impact on Canadians, in spite of some dropping off in favor of on-line advertising. However, traditional mass market Canadian advertising like newspapers is very costly. The Canadian newspaper industry continues to see a decline in spend of 5.5% in 2017 and 3% in 2018, with media planning strategies shifting to support digital instead of printed formats. Newspapers in 2017 make up a 17% share of total spend compared to 43% for digital.

Main Newspapers
La Presse
Mail
In Canada, this type of advertising is called "Courrier Poubelle" or "Junk mail". Special advertising weeklies from food stores and of pharmaceutical products are what people like and retain most. When children go back to school, families watch out for mail advertising school items and clothes.
In Transportation Venues
Advertising on public transport, in railway stations and in bus shelters has been everywhere for many years. Out-of-home advertising is expected to see sales growth of 3% for 2017, largely due to a jump of 13% in digital OOH advertising for the year.

Market Leaders:
PATTISON Outdoor
CBS Outdoor
Radio
Radio advertising is listened to above all by motorists, as well as in offices and stores. Traditional mass market Canadian advertising like radio is very costly. Radio advertising is largely local.
In 2016-17 local radio ad sales see the steepest decline in five years. On the other hand, national sales grew by 1.2% compared to the previous year. The climate for ad sales was slightly harsher in the Anglophone market than in the Francophone one.


Main Radios
Radio-Canada
Groupe Corrus - Corrus Entertaiment
All Canadian radio stations
Web
Nearly 22 million Canadians use Internet monthly. Internet has become a means of communication, of networking, of research and of shopping, irreplaceable now for consumers and companies alike. On-line advertising has a stronger impact than television on Canadians' intention to buy. Advertisers follow consumers and devote a growing part of their advertising budgets to interactive media. A crucial factor in promoting products and services in Canada is developing and maintaining a sales-oriented corporate website. Social media ad sales in Canada are expected to jump by 35%, video ad sales by 20% and search ad sales by 13%. Overall, digital ad sales are projected to grow by 16% in 2017 to CAD 7 billion. Canadian consumers’ shopping habits are also influenced by social media, and a growing number of them admits to be influenced by reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media platforms, along with online advertisements. While domestic retailers have traditionally lagged behind US retailers in establishing their internet presence, in coming years growth in online shopping is expected to be driven in large part by the improved internet presence of those same domestic retailers.

Market Leaders:
Leo Burnett Canada
DDB
Rethink Canada
Main Advertising Agencies
Cossette Group Blitz Direct
Alpha Vision
OKD Marketing
Jules Communication (in French)
 

Main Principles of Advertising Regulations

Beverages/Alcohol
Advertising is authorized, but sales are controlled by the State in nearly all provinces: SAQ (Société des Alcools du Québec: Quebec Alcohol Society) in Quebec, LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) in Ontario, LCL (Liquor Control & Licensing) in British Columbia. Only Alberta has been free of the State for about ten years. Radio and television advertising for alcoholic beverages is regulated under the Radio Regulations and Television Broadcasting Regulations, under the Broadcasting Act. Broadcasters must adhere to the Code for Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages to maintain a Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) license.
Cigarettes
Health Canada has established very strict laws on advertising tobacco products. The latest law has been in force since 2003. Among other things, this law prohibits all sport and cultural sponsorship by tobacco companies. Tobacco advertising is also prohibited in TV, radio and press.
Pharmaceuticals/Drugs
Regulations on advertising medicines and drugs are governed by Health Canada. Only health products authorized for sale in the country by Health Canada may be advertised. There are precise requirements for advertising aimed at consumers of prescription-only medicines.
Other Rules
Article 74.06 of the Competition Act is a federal law governing the conduct of Canadian companies. It contains civil and criminal provisions which aim to prevent anti-competitive behaviour on the market. The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards governs the professional practice of advertising. It is administered by Advertising Standards Canada, an organization set up by the advertising industry, in order to arouse and maintain public confidence in advertising.
Use of Foreign Languages in Advertisement
Article 66 of the law on official languages stipulates that English and French are the 2 official languages in Canada. The use of either language is possible. In Quebec, the Office Québécois de la langue française ( Quebec Office for the French language) enforces the dominance of the French language in any display or advertising, resorting if necessary to displaying both languages. For further information, consult also the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages website.
Organizations Regulating Advertising
Health Canada and its regulatory requirements as regards advertising.
Advertising Standards Canada and its Code Interpretation Guidelines.

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Latest Update: November 2022