Marketing your business

Sharing Much More than a Border

Easily the most multi-lingual country in our Country Guides, Canada is home to over 200 living languages, two of which (English and French) are listed as the official languages. Approximately 98% of the Canadian population reported that it was able to hold a working conversation in either English or French. This linguistic duality presents an obstacle for retailers, sometimes requiring multilingual customer care and sites in both French and English in order to be successful. [1]


Prevalent online spenders in Canada are more likely to be older (35yrs and over) than in other parts of the Americas, although consistent with younger age groups, books and entertainment are the most popular items purchased. Light, medium and heavy shoppers in Canada are consistent in general preference regarding aspects of online shopping that encourage extra spending. Light shoppers are engaged by conventional shopping needs (flexible returns policy), medium shoppers look to avoid registering in order to purchase and heavy shoppers are driven by a more engaging online experience. Regarding payment preference, PayPal has considerable presence in Canada with 69% of shoppers having used PayPal in the past 6 months (global average 40%). [2]

Social Media

Social network user numbers are on the rise in Canada and it is projected that this trend will continue, reaching 20.4 million social media users by 2018. Advertising expenditures on social media are expected to reach nearly $835 million CAD by the end of 2017.

Generational usage studies show that consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 spent on average 48 minutes daily with a social network in 2014. Canadian millennials use social media differently from other age groups, with YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat the most used sites. The older consumers are, the less likely they are to have tried any social media network.  Social media usage among women is growing steadily across all networks, and growth among Canadian men is slower by comparison. Women are using visual social networks more, with Instagram and Pinterest seeing more growth. LinkedIn growth among Canadian males is almost double the usage of women on that network.

A 2016 survey from InsightsWest determined that Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram use is still growing at a healthy pace overall in Canada, while Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Reddit usage has slowed down. Among the general population, most time spent accessing different social platforms was via smartphones, followed by desktops and tablets. [3]

Major shopping categories

Canadians predominantly buy media products online (almost 30% of the overall market, global average: 9%). All other product categories are purchased far below the global average. [4]

Major retail holidays

The major consumer “buying holidays” are like those in the United States: Christmas (December 25), Back-to-School (August), Mother’s Day (May), Valentine’s Day (February 14), Easter (March/April), Father’s Day (June) and Halloween (October 31). Canada also sees a rise in sales around the fourth quarter holidays, most notably Cyber Week, the buying period that begins on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. [5]

Digital Marketing

Given the increasing access to and dominant presence of younger consumers on social media sites, digital ads have more consistently targeted social media rather than the traditional online news and information portals or information sources. Currently, 36 percent of digital ads are placed on social media, 18 percent on entertainment sites, and 12 percent on portals. The remaining ads are placed on news and information sites and directories, among others.

In terms of consumer preferences, young consumers have shown a greater trend toward mobile purchases and are more responsive to mobile ads. Another preference in Canada is for video advertising: per Com Score, mobile commerce (m-commerce) is on the rise, given increasing mobile connectivity of smartphones and tablets. Digital advertising now has surpassed TV advertising revenues and is poised to become the favorite advertising venue in Canada.

Canadian consumers are slightly more critical when it comes to advertising media. Only search engines are considered to be usefull by two thirds of respondents. [6]


  1. DHL eCommerce "Shop the World!
  2. Worldpay. "Global Shopper."
  3. Rapid Source Marketing "RapidBoost"
  4. DHL eCommerce "Shop the World!"
  5. PFS Global eCommerce Solutions Provider "PFS 2015 Canada eCommerce Study"
  6. "Canada - eCommerce"

36.3 million

Median Age:


Internet Use:

89.4% (19th)

Most Popular Social Network:

Facebook (18.2M users)