Oh Canada – True LOCAL love, in all thy sons command

Canada – a land where more than four-fifths of the population spend a whole lot of time connected via their digital devices: more time on the Internet than people in any country, nearly double the worldwide average (43.5 hours a day versus 23.1) (comScore, 2011). There’s no doubt about it, with such high rates of internet usage and a population that is scattered across a huge geographic distance, Canada is unlike any other country in the world. What’s more… every part of the country is different. Yes, people are different between Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. What’s more, however, is that urbanites are also remarkably different from their cottage-happy Muskoka, French-fry laden Florenceville-Bristol or rocky Iqaluit neighbors. But this is no big secret to Canadians. All you have to do is to re-watch the closing ceremonies from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to see that our diversity is a true mark of pride in our national identity.

As citizens, we get it. But, it seems that as marketers we don’t! How many ad dollars are being spent on national campaigns that send a generic message across the national landscape? Do these ads work? Yes.. (as a brand marketer, I’d be remiss to say otherwise!)… but could they work even better if we were to hone further down on how local regions consume media? To me, again, all odds are on “yes”.

Local marketing existed long before universities were even issuing Marketing degrees. It was just a little different than it is today… In a time of the general store, businesses got their messages out with town halls and community events – forums that advertisers hoped would help spread their messages across neighbours’ fences and into consumers’ homes. It made sense at the time – there were relatively few consumers to each small town general store. As societies grew so did the number of stores, thus the need to make local messages scalable. With the emergence of technologies came the ability to speak to the increasing number of consumers, starting with the invention of the industrial printing press and, consequently, the ubiquitous Yellow Pages: a directory that consumers could turn to for help with their immediate local needs. Today, the internet and smartphones have increased the power of local marketing whereby over 80% of online consumers are using their web-enabled devices when researching where to make offline purchases. (Opus Research, 2011) What’s important to note, however, is that the addition of new media has not stopped the need for traditional media — certain markets are still heavily favouring print over mobile.

If advertising is all about gaining further exposure and driving more qualified leads, we therefore need to be mindful of differentiating media patterns in the markets where we look to spread our messages.

We’ve done a lot of thinking on the matter and have, accordingly, put our thoughts onto paper in FROM THE CREATION TO THE EVOLUTION OF LOCATION BASED MARKETING: A Canadian Deep Dive. To read more, check it out here.