International Divide: Smartphone Use In U.S. Vs Canada

Want to know whether someone is Canadian or American? Check what they do on their smartphones. While Canadians and Americans may both prefer iPhones and Angry Birds, they differ on several smartphone behaviors, according to search marketing agency Catalyst, citing research conducted by Catalyst Canada and GroupM Next. 

More than half of American cell phone users (52%), for instance, use their devices to check sports scores versus 39% of Canadians. Americans are also more likely than Canadians to use smartphones to check weather (62% vs. 55%), get directions (60% vs. 53%), find new restaurants (45% vs. 36%), and look up stock quotes (31% vs. 22%).

On the other hand, Canadians are more likely than Americans to read (30% vs. 23%) and write (16% vs. 10%) emails.

Similar to the U.S., Canada is becoming more nuanced about understanding user data.

“For brands and marketers, the story of smartphone growth is no longer about market penetration. It is about where and how consumers use them,” said Jeff Lancaster, CEO, Catalyst Canada. "In this broader picture, brands can be more meaningful and valuable to consumers by better understanding the settings in which they’re using smartphones, and understanding the information consumers are seeking and activities they’re doing at that time. Brands can then implement strategies that more closely associate their business with those activities, increase their visibility, and ultimately, become the customer’s solution.”

The research also examines Canadian smartphone adoption and behaviors based on location and native language. Overall, smartphones are necessities -- not luxury items -- for Canadians. Half of smartphone owners have owned one for at least two years, and 14 percent of users have owned a smartphone for more than five years. 

Plus, of smartphone users searching for product information, 65% do it while standing in line, 65% do it while eating, and 60% search for info during their commute. Being featured in an app store and word of mouth are top factors that influence smartphone users to download an app.

Smartphone usage behaviors and sentiment among French- and English-speaking users are quite similar to each other. That said, French-speaking smartphone users are half as likely to have frustration typing on smartphones as English-speaking users. 

Still, one language that everyone understands is poor service. The most frequently cited frustrations among users include load times, poor mobile Web sites or functionality, the need for too much typing, poor local business information, and lack of product features available.

Brand interaction is also a potential turnoff. Consumers are twice as unhappy with brand queries as with general information queries, reports Catalyst.

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