TORONTO, Aug. 5, 2015 /CNW/ -- As social media becomes an integral part of everyday life, Canadians are demonstrating an overwhelming interest in social media as a tool to not only connect with friends and family, but discover products and services. Mintel's Social Media Trends Canada 2015 report reveals that 59 percent of Canadian moms engage in product discovery and/or purchase related actions on social media sites compared to 48 percent of consumers overall. Additionally, parents (92 percent) and younger Canadians age 18-34 (95 percent) are more engaged in social media than older consumers age 55+ (67 percent) and those without children in the home (82 percent).
The internet proves to be an essential part of Canadian consumers' lives with high usage across websites. Social networking sites are among the top three types of websites used, along with shopping sites (87 percent) and current affairs or news sites (85 percent). A full 85 percent of Canadian internet users are visiting social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Heavy social media usage among Parents and Millennials
Among the typical websites Canadians visit, including online retailers and news sites, social networking websites are the most likely to be visited daily (60 percent), with 41 percent of Canadians accessing them multiple times per day. Social media site visits vary by age, with increased usage among Canadian Millennials (age 18-34), of which three quarters (75 percent) visit these sites at least once daily. As expected, younger consumers also use a variety of social platforms. Specifically, Millennial men are the most likely to use three or more social media sites on a daily basis (51 percent), including Facebook (65 percent), YouTube (51 percent) and Twitter (27 percent).
Parents with children in the home are also highly engaged in social media activity and are more inclined to be heavy users, visiting social sites multiple times daily (47 percent vs 39 percent of those without children), particularly mothers (53 percent). Lower on the usage spectrum are consumers over age 45 with only 28 percent considered to be heavy social media users.
"The internet is an essential part of Canadians' daily lives, and social networking sites are among the top websites consumers visit. Unsurprisingly, usage of social networking websites skews towards younger Canadians, with an overwhelming majority using social media platforms daily," said Carol Wong-Li, Senior Analyst, Lifestyles and Leisure at Mintel. "We're also seeing that Canadian parents are more likely to use social sites compared to those without children in the home, indicating consumers who are pressed for time are utilizing social media as a method of staying connected."
Facebook is used nearly twice as much as Twitter and LinkedIn
According to Mintel data, Facebook leads the way as the most visited social media site among Canadians who use social media (95 percent), followed by Google+ (67 percent), Twitter and LinkedIn (47 percent each). Despite speculation that Facebook is losing popularity among younger generations, 18-24 year olds who use social media remain heavy users of the platform, with 70 percent checking the site daily, including 57 percent who report using the network multiple times per day. In tandem, usage is also frequent among older networkers, with half of consumers age 65 and older (49 percent) using the site daily. Furthermore, the site draws the attention of parents, particularly those with children age 5 and under at home, with nearly three out of four using the site daily (72 percent). This is likely driven by usage from mothers: 74 percent report daily usage.
Considering the role devices play in online engagement, nearly half (48 percent) of Canadians use two devices to access social media channels. Those most commonly used are laptops (68 percent) and smartphones (61 percent). Overall, consumers agree that laptops (37 percent) are their primary tool for checking up on social media, indicating portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets, may play more of a supplemental role. In fact, Mintel's research shows that less than one quarter (23 percent) of consumers use smartphones as a primary device to access social media, and just 10 percent report using tablets. However, smartphones are dominant among Canadian Millennials, with 44 percent of 18-24 year olds using smartphones as a primarily device.
"While usage on social media platforms typically decreases as age increases, Facebook remains unique in that it appeals to both Millennial and Baby Boomer audiences with nearly half of consumers age 65+ using the site daily. Regardless of age, laptops are the primary device Canadians are using to access social media channels; however, research indicates smartphones are becoming increasingly more popular among younger consumers as they allow for more mobility," Wong-Li continued.
Consumers head to social media before making purchases
The majority of Canadians who engage in social media activity use the platforms as a way to keep in touch with family and friends (68 percent). Additionally, Millennials (38 percent) and parents with children at home (43 percent) agree that they always try to share items they enjoy on the internet, compared to just 31 percent of Canadians overall. However, consumers also turn to social media when researching products and services. Mintel research shows that almost a third of consumers (29 percent) use social media to get reviews from friends and peers. This is particularly true for Millennial women (41 percent) and mothers with children in the home (38 percent).
In all, about half (48 percent) of Canadian social media website visitors have used these platforms to make a product discovery or purchase-related action. This includes taking advantage of discounts/special offers (30 percent), opinion-seeking (27 percent) and asking brands for product information before (18 percent) or after (19 percent) purchase. According to Mintel's Grocery Retailing Canada 2015 report, parents are more likely to use coupons (36 percent vs 26 percent of those without children at home), consistent with an increased willingness to seek out discounts on social media. Analysis from Mintel's Canadian Lifestyles 2015 report indicates parents of young children are price-conscious and willing to spend more time and energy finding discounts.
Social media posts prove influential among Millennials seeking opinions from others on products and services, as they are the most likely to ask people for information on social platforms (42 percent). Two out of five Millennials (38 percent) also report having bought a product or service they were made aware of via social media posts. Similarly, one fifth of consumers (20 percent) purchased a product they were previously unaware of after friends or family posted about it on social media.
"Our research indicates that Canadian Millennials and parents not only visit social media sites more frequently than consumers overall, but they are also more likely to use social media as a tool for products and service recommendations and deal seeking-actions as most are typically operating within a budget. The sharing element may be beneficial to brands who engage consumers on social media, as active social networkers have proven they are willing to share content with friends and family, who, in turn, are willing to listen and make purchasing decisions based on that feedback," concluded Wong-Li.
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SOURCE Mintel Group, Ltd.
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