TORONTO, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - Canada is an online social network hotbed, with more than 80% of online Canadians participating in such networks - 45% on a daily basis. Even more intriguing is that brand friends have often established a meaningful presence in these networks. Based on new Canadian data from TNS' Digital Life - the largest ever global research project into people's online activities and behaviour - these social web worlds may offer significant opportunities for Canadian brands, marketers and, most importantly, retailers.

"In November, as part of TNS Canada's Consumer Confidence Study, Canadians indicated that this will be the lowest spending holiday season since 2005. Clearly, retailers need another way to woo consumers. And social media may fit that bill," said Michael Ennamorato, TNS Canada's Managing Director. "Canadian consumers are even pro-actively seeking relationships with brands they like or are interested in."

Canadians are seeking out brand friends to join their networks for three clear reasons: (1) to get more information about a brand, (2), to support and connect with a favourite brand, and most importantly (3) to find and benefit from promotions and/or special offers. On average, Canadians have five self-initiated brand friends in their networks to go with their 120 other friends - women have slightly more of these friends than men (six vs. four), while younger participants have more than older ones - 16-20 year-olds have 10 while 45-60 year-olds have four.

"For Canadian consumers, it's about immediate self-benefit," Ennamorato continued. "'What deals and free stuff can I get?' It may seem one-sided, but it isn't. Retailers can move products through this direct pathway to consumers, or test the appeal of new concepts or campaigns, while consumers get a better deal on products they were going to buy anyway. This is more like a relationship between equals. Really, it's a win-win - but only if retailers get in the game."

Getting into the game holds another benefit for retailers - they get to join the conversation prospective buyers are having about their purchases. Indeed, among social networkers - 55% of whom are highly engaged in the activity - purchases have taken on a communal aspect. Not only have 29% of participants written positive or negative comments about a brand, but 25% say they take those comments into account when making purchase decisions. Couple that with the fact that 26% have searched for products or services within a social network and that 15% have actually clicked on embedded ads, and it is more than apparent that these networks can have an enormous impact on sales. In many ways, online social networks represent a modern-day market square.

"Quite clearly, to influence these conversations, retailers need to be ready to engage social networkers," Ennamorato continued. "What should really make social media sing for retailers is this - a whole lot of Canadians are talking about brands among their network friends and they are even inviting brands to participate in the discussion. With digital social networks, the ability to really connect with consumers has taken a quantum leap forward."

About Digital Life

Digital Life is the world's largest study into consumers' digital behaviours and attitudes ever conducted. The study seeks to go beyond behaviour to understand the core emotional drivers behind what consumers do online.

TNS completed analysis of the results of its 46-country study into online behaviour and perspectives around the world in September 2010. A total of 48,804 people aged 16 to 60 years old were interviewed in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Uganda, UK, USA and Vietnam.

A highlight of the study is being brought to life online via an interactive data visualization. This has been created by Digit:, a WPP partner company that specializes in design and interaction. The visualization will be made available for anyone to sample at

About TNS

TNS is the world's largest custom research agency delivering actionable insights and research-based business advice to its clients so they can make more effective business decisions. TNS offers comprehensive industry knowledge within the Consumer, Technology, Finance, Automotive, Political and Social sectors, supported by a unique product offering that stretches across the entire range of marketing and business issues, specializing in product development and innovation, brand and communication, stakeholder management, retail and shopper, and qualitative research. Delivering best-in-class service across more than 75 countries, TNS is part of Kantar, one of the world's largest research, insight and consultancy networks. Please visit for more information.

About Kantar

Kantar is one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 26,500 employees work across 95 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group's services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies. For further information, please visit us at


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