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Canadians’ habits and sentiments in the digital-first era

Are Canadians doubling-down on digital or in need of a detox? A new survey provides insights into the way Canadians view technology


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PHOTO: Martin420 via Wikimedia Commons

TORONTO – A new report, Deep Dive on Digital Trends in Canada, examines everything from the Canadian sharing economy, to app culture, to Canadians’ online habits and whether digital has simplified our lives for the better.

“Digital is unequivocally driving us to live much different lives than 10 years ago, so we decided to ask how Canadians really feel about digital, and to find out if we can honestly say it is changing our lives for the better,” says Aayaz Pira, senior vice-president, CIBC Digital and Direct Banking and head of Simplii Financial, who release the report.

The key takeaway from the survey, Pira says, is that “digital is making a positive impact in our lives, but there’s an underlying tension. The vast majority (79%) of Canadians agree that digital tools help simplify their lives yet over half (54%) say they want less tech.”

For Canadians, the most important motivators for using technology are to simplify life (43%) and save time (40%). When asked what they are doing with the extra time, 58% say they spend it using more technology while nearly half report socializing with friends/family (45%) and pursuing a passion, hobby or activity (38%).

According to the data, it is clear that Canadians only double-down on digital when it makes sense for their personal needs and preferences. For example, 57% of Canadians would prefer to email or text versus talk on the phone while only 38% of Canadians would prefer to shop online than in store.

Responses further suggest that if technology doesn’t make sense or create significant value, it’s quickly abandoned or deleted from the home screen. Many say they’re paring back their digital tools, with a majority (69%) having done an “app cleanse.” Nearly half (48%) have less than 20 apps and about the same (46%) say that most apps they download aren’t useful.

Canadians identify digital banking as the tool making the most positive impact in their lives

When asked about which digital tools or services were making the most positive impact in their lives, Canadians identified digital banking (45%) as number one followed by GPS (42%) and online shopping (40%), music and entertainment (39%) and social networking (37%).

Other Key Findings

The sharing economy: 63% of Canadians surveyed want to share more things rather than make new purchases, while half (49%) have used or use a shopping resale platform; and fewer have used or use a rideshare application (23%) or a home sharing app (21%).

Demographic trends: The study found that women are more like to use: social media daily (75% versus 62% for men); share more instead of buy more (68% versus 57%); undertake do-it-yourself projects using digital tools like YouTube (41% versus 26%); and incorporate digital into their fitness routines (25% versus 20%).

Meanwhile, men are more likely to: use the time saved from digital tools to watch TV or listen to music (4% versus 35% of women); use SMART home devices (twice as a likely); want more technology (52% versus 40%); and use digital tools to keep up with news (43% versus 35%).

Boomer Canadians (age 55+) are the most likely to want to decrease their use of tech (64% versus 52% for GenX (35-54 years)) and 44% for Millennials (18-24 years).  They are also far more likely to want to talk on the phone than text.

Not surprisingly, almost half of Millennials (47%) have used digital tools to call a meal delivery service, make a reservation through an app or cook up dinner with a meal kit subscription. That’s just over 20% higher than Gen X (26%) and more than triple Boomers (14%).

Regionally, the survey found differences in the level of anxiety Canadians feel when separated from their mobile device. People with the lowest rate of phone separation anxiety are in Atlantic Canada (29%), followed by Quebec (33%) while Saskatchewan has the highest rate (49%).


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