Canadian smartphone users have multiple personalities, study finds

How do Canadians use their smartphones? Well that depends on where they are – at work, at home, or somewhere in between, according to research by Toronto-based Catalyst.

Smartphone users at work are more likely to be checking e-mail, stock quotes, reading the news, or doing some personal banking. Smartphone users at home are more likely to be looking for a new car, booking a flight, paying a bill, or shopping and buying products online.  If a smartphone user is on the go, he is likely to be getting directions, finding a new restaurant to try, checking the weather, reading Twitter, or looking up spots scores.

More than half of Canadians (55 per cent) now own a smartphone, according to Catalyst – an search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) services firm that’s a subsidiary of New York-based GroupM. Research division GroupM Next surveyed 1,100 smartphone owners in Canada including both English-speaking and French-speaking participants. Half of smartphone owners have owned a device for at least two years and 14 per cent have owned one for more than five years.

Report authors say the data shows the Canadian smartphone market is maturing and worth the serious consideration of marketers. Smartphone users are conducting “intent-driven, product-related searches happening in locations most brands may not target” the report says. That includes while in the morning commute, waiting in line at a store, or while eating.

Mobile isn’t just one big channel to divert your marketing budget to, says Matt Jenkins, the marketing coordinator at Catalyst. There are sub-channels to consider as the market has matured.

“Allocating your budget to just ‘mobile’ is a fairly blanket type of decision making,” he says. “We say look at context first and build around that.”

Smartphone users also reported frustration in carrying out various activities on their devices. For users on the go, 26 per cent were frustrated by load times, 23 per cent were irked by badly designed mobile websites, and 21 per cent felt they had to do too much typing on their device. The longer a person had owned a smartphone, the more likely they were to report feeling frustrated by a bad mobile website, demonstrating that expectations are raised over time.

“As more Canadians start to own smartphones and own them for longer, you’re going to start to see a larger manifestation of the types of trends we’re seeing here,” Jenkins says.

While smartphone users are willing to spend more time doing intensive activities on a device while at home, only 10 per cent of people say its their primary Internet device there. Most prefer using a tablet or laptop to go online. At work, many smartphone users rely on their device as a secondary option to keep up to date on information that’s important to them.

The bottom line for marketers, according to Catalyst, is to understand what motivates smartphone users to seek brand-specific information, and when they are likely to do it.

“The main takeaway is that marketing initiatives need to be customer focused,” Jenkins says. “You need to understand who your customer is, where they’re going to be, and what the information looks like when they’re looking for your services.”

The entire white paper can be viewed on Catalyst’s website. Below is an infographic the firm produced detailing the findings (click for a larger version):


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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