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Mobile Usage in Canada – Smartphone Adoption, Gaming, Time Spent in Apps

Posted Mar 4, 2020

Across the globe, mobile devices are finding their way into more and more consumers’ hands. The North America region is considered to be a mature market but most data collection has been focused on mobile usage stateside. Smartphone users in Canada are growing in number every year which in turn leads to more time spent in apps and mobile games, specifically. We’ve gathered research highlights that indicate key distinctions of Canada’s mobile usage that differentiate it from other territories.

Smartphone Adoption Among Gen Z and Millennials
Most preteens are acquiring their own smartphones by the age of 10, even if its a hand-me-down from a parent or older sibling. Because of early adoption, approximately 89% of teens use smartphones. Advertisers should still proceed with caution when marketing to teenagers through their phones. The age group is impressionable and has yet to really grasp the commercial landscape so brands should be sensitive to avoid ethical and legal issues when targeting them.

Millennials are still the demographic brands are most excited about. That’s why eMarketer’s research on the 18-to-34 year-olds could be very valuable to brand marketers. This age group represents individuals that are at varying stages in life. The younger end is still students with limited income while the older end is settled in with careers, families, and homes. The key to increasing brand awareness is to target subsegments rather than the group as a whole.

Research states that the 18-to-34 age group is almost fully saturated with 98% (8.16 million) of this population already using smartphones. As a highly sought after market, their ad preferences are influencing advertisers’ creative strategies. Millennials are drawn to the visual aspect of ads so video campaigns are more widely used.

Canadians Use Apps Frequently, But Selectively
Simplii’s Deep Dive on Digital Trends in Canada report gave further insights into mobile behavior in the country. The fintech company’s research confirmed how essential smartphones are to regular routines by focusing on app usage. The study found that a majority (78%) of Canadians use 1-9 apps daily. On a weekly basis, 51% of users used 1-9 apps, while 32% used 10-19.

Twenty-five is the average number of apps installed on Canadians’ smartphones however, that number is elevated by the 10% smartphone users who have a staggering 60+ apps. Although some apps are frequently used, respondents did not think most of their downloaded apps were useful. Almost half (46%) of users said they do not need the majority of the apps they had. Furthermore, 69% say they’ve done an ‘app cleanse,’ a stat boosted by millennials’ share (78%). Canadians’ tendency to keep their home screens clean means that developers need to ensure that their apps are retaining users by providing updated and quality content.

The Broad User Base of Mobile Gaming
An analysis of app usage in Canada would not be complete without looking at the country’s mobile gaming habits. Data from Newzoo shows that of the online population, 48% of men and 53% of women play mobile games. The majority (66%) of paying gamers spent money on in-game items or virtual goods in the past six months, with 22% of women buying power-ups.

These buying habits prove that like most countries, Canada’s mobile gaming market has a broad user base. Free and easy to download apps have provided older audiences with gaming experiences that suit their wants and needs. Like many markets, the majority of time spent in mobile games is by people aged 25 and older by a large margin. The growing audience of smartphone users and mobile gamers in Canada will undoubtedly contribute to Statista’s estimation that mobile games will make $317 million by the end of this year. 

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