Nation of Influence: Majority of Canadians consider themselves influential

With the American Express Refer a Friend program, influence could earn you rewards

MARKHAM, ON, Nov. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - If you've ever tried to convince your boss that you deserve a pay raise, persuade a family member to conquer his or her fear of heights or coax a group of friends to go to the movie you want to see, you could be part of the 75 per cent of Canadians who consider themselves influential.

As part of American Express' Refer a Friend program, the company recently conducted a survey to better understand influence and how powerful the recommendation of a friend or family member truly is. It turns out that Canadians are extremely open to the influence of family and friends, with many Canadians saying that they're likely to be influenced to try a new restaurant (87%), travel to a new destination (65%) or follow-through on financial advice (52%). Word of mouth can be powerful in driving consumers to purchase a new product or try a new service, and in an age where many people are communicating over social channels this is increasingly meaningful for businesses.

"Nearly one in five Canadians say that social media has made them more influential, which means the power of word of mouth is turning to 'world' of mouth," says Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, an award winning book on the power of influence. "As a result, we're seeing a number of great referral programs that put the consumer in the power seat."

While the survey found that 71 per cent of Canadians say they turn to friends and/or family members for a recommendation on a product or service, 64 per cent agree they would be more willing to recommend a product/service if there was a reward or incentive in it for both themselves and the other person.

"It's clear that Canadians love being seen as tastemakers and influencing their networks, especially if they are rewarded in the process," says Brett Mooney, Vice President of Consumer Acquisition and Engagement at American Express Canada. "To help with this, American Express has a Refer a Friend program where Cardmembers could earn referral bonus' for successful referrals to people they know.  This is just another way for us to offer our Cardmembers a positive experience with our brand."

With the American Express Refer a Friend program, influence could earn you a reward. If a Cardmember refers their eligible Card to a family member or friend, then the Cardmember could earn a referral bonus that can be redeemed for rewards. Here's how it works:

  1. Visit
  2. Select your current American Express Card from a list of eligible Cards
  3. Fill in your name and Card number
  4. Send the Refer a Friend invite out to friend and family members via email or Facebook. You could earn a referral bonus for each approved referral and your friend or family member can earn a welcome bonus.

Going one step further to truly put Canadians' influence to the test, American Express conducted a social experiment, taking regular Canadians through a crash course on influence and then sending them to the streets of Toronto to test how body language, flattery and other personality characteristics play into influencing complete strangers. To watch, visit:

For more information on how the Refer a Friend program works, visit

Additional findings from the survey include:
  • Canadians say they are most influenced by:
    1. A family member (77%)
    2. Their circle of friends (72%)
    3. Partner of spouse (71%)
  • 35 per cent of young people (18 to 34) say that social networks are influential to them
  • 64 per cent of Canadians agree that the concept of influence has changed with the rise of social media
  • 43 per cent give the reviews posted on social media the same weight as those seen on traditional news channels.
  • Canadians have overcome a fear (27%) and done something they regret (25%) based on a friends influence
  • Top three places Canadians go for a recommendation on a product or service:
    1. Family member or friend (71%)
    2. Review boards (44%)
    3. Newspaper and magazines (24%)
  • Females are more likely (25%) to go to their social networks for a recommendation on a product/service, compared to men (18%)
  • Young Canadians 18 to 34:
    1. 60 per cent of young people say they like to consult someone before making a major decision
    2. Young Canadians are most likely to be influenced to purchase a product for a reward (43%), compared to any other age group (35-54: 29%, 55+: 14%)
  • 40 per cent of Canadians say they are motivated to influence a friend or family member to try a new product or service just to put a smile on their face
  • According to the Amex survey, the top three characteristics that make someone influential are:
    1. Confidence (81%)
    2. Education (55%)
    3. Experience new things often (44%)

About American Express Canada

American Express in Canada operates as Amex Bank of Canada and Amex Canada Inc. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of the American Express Company. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American Express charge and credit cards, with outstanding products like the American Express® Gold Rewards Card, the American Express® Platinum Card, and the American Express® AeroplanPlus® Gold Card. Amex Canada Inc. operates the Corporate Travel and Travellers Cheques divisions in Canada. American Express opened its first offices in Toronto and Hamilton in 1853 and now employs 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast. For more information, visit or connect with us at and

Survey Methodology

From September 30th to October 1st 2013 an online survey was conducted among 1,013 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. 

Video with caption: "Video: American Express Canada conducted a social experiment, to see how influential Canadians can really be.". Video available at:

SOURCE: American Express

For further information:

Kate Weersink, (416) 644-2241

Amanda Frehr-Smith, 905-474-8747

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