Canada Digital Habits by Generation

Identifying Key Distinctions Across Age Groups, from Teens to Baby Boomers

Executive Summary

Brands with a demographic sweet spot—like millennials or boomers—are seeking the most relevant campaign tactics to reach their targets. This is especially true in digital, where behaviors vary widely by platform and formats used for media consumption.

How important are mobile devices to teens in Canada?

Teens in Canada have had digital devices in their hands since they were toddlers, and 88.6% of this group are smartphone users today. Mobile is paramount when targeting this group, especially through social messaging apps.

What is the primary digital activity among younger adults?

The 18-to-34 age group—a blend of millennials and older Gen Zers—is heavily reliant on social media for personal interaction and entertainment. In 2020, 92.0% of the population in this cohort will use social networks at least once a month.

What is unique about middle-aged adults?

The 35-to-54 age group is in prime parenting years. For brands appealing to families and households, reaching this group requires an integrated approach of digital and traditional formats. This group is typically more resistant to sharing information with advertisers than other age groups.

How digitally connected are the oldest segments of the population?

Baby boomers make up the bulk of the 55-and-older population. This group comprises retirees and the most affluent segment of the population, and it includes heavier users of traditional media. But digital consumption of content is notable as well.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report details our user forecasts for internet, smartphones, social media and digital video, highlighting key digital usage differences from teens to the oldest segments of the population, along with third-party data.

KEY STAT: Penetration rates exceed 90% for internet, smartphone, social media and digital video usage for the 18-to-34 age segment—the original “digital natives.”

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. 12 to 17: Think Mobile, but Tread Responsibly in Targeting
  3. 18 to 34: Most Coveted by Brands
  4. 35 to 54: Zeroing in on Digital Personas
  1. 55 and Older: Not Digital Natives, but Heavy Adoption Nonetheless
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Andrew Au
Intercept Group North America
Co-Founder and President
Interviewed December 10, 2019
David Cravit
Executive Vice President
Interviewed January 10, 2020
Chris Elliott
Restaurants Canada
Senior Economist
Interviewed January 7, 2020
Ashley MacLaren
Amica Senior Lifestyles
Director, Brand Marketing
Interviewed January 10, 2020
Jo-Ann McArthur
Nourish Food Marketing
Interviewed December 10, 2019
Wendy Olson Killion
Expedia Group Media Solutions
Global Vice President, Business Development
Interviewed December 20, 2019
Kristin Wozniak
Cossette Media
Vice President, Analytics and Insight
Interviewed January 7, 2020

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Paul Briggs


Mark Dolliver
Principal Analyst
Angela Kim
Senior Researcher
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst

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