Canadian moms lead US moms in online activity, but lag in mobile, online shopping and TV

A syndicated study, Women & Digital Life, released this morning by Toronto-based Solutions Research Group, reveals that while Canadian women watch less TV than their American neighbours, they are more engaged watching their favourite TV shows and less likely to be multi-tasking.

A two-year study looking at the role that broadband, mobile and social media are playing in women’s lives in both Canada and the US, reveals some pretty significant differences between the two countries.

The findings from the independent syndicated study, Women & Digital Life, released this morning by Toronto-based Solutions Research Group (SRG), reveals that while Canadian women watch less TV than their American neighbours, they are more engaged in their favourite conventional TV shows when they are watching, and less likely to be multi-tasking with a computer or mobile phone.

The study also shows that Canadian women are more likely to feel the need to unplug from technology with a book or a magazine (67% in Canada agree, versus American women where 56% agree), which may mean that the migration away from traditional media will be slower here, senior director at SRG and co-director of the study Donna Hall tells MiC.

Compared to the US market, long-form online video, such as online TV, is underdeveloped in Canada, and showed a difference in viewing habits (22% in the US vs. 14% in Canada), a finding that Hall says can be attributed to the relatively limited supply of content in Canada and fewer online-only players like Hulu in the market.

The study also found that Canadian women spend less time watching TV than American women overall, and that this is reflected in use of and access to digital TV technologies. American women are twice as likely to have used a DVR/PVR to watch a TV show, and weekly cable video-on-demand use is also double that of Canada (24% vs. 12%). And while 37% of women in satellite and digital cable homes have a high-definition box in the US, the comparable number in Canada is only 29%.

Another finding points to a difference in the extent to which we engage in mobile communications: Canadian women aren’t using the full functionality of their smartphones to the same extent, explaining why some mobile marketing programs don’t take off to the same degree as they do south of the border, says Hall. Nearly one in five women with a wireless device (18%) has a smartphone in Canada, about the same level as in the US.
While 52% of Canadian women with a wireless device sent a text message in the last month, the comparable number in the US was 61%. Taking a photo with a cellphone is at 41% vs. 55% in the US. And 17% of women play a game using a wireless device in Canada compared to 27% in the US. While Canadian women are more likely to live in 2+ PC households (61% in Canadian Internet households vs. 55% in the US), they lag in laptop ownership (46% vs. 49%).

However, Canadians are more likely to surf the Internet with their kids compared to US women (67% vs. 58%). Canadian moms are using broadband and mobile technology to help them with their parenting tasks, as well as to keep themselves and their kids entertained. Moms in Canada use PVRs and video-on-demand to coordinate children’s TV viewing, although not to the same extent as in the US. Over half (53%) play videogames with their kids, but Canadians are less likely to share their mobile phones with their kids (36% do so in Canada versus 55% in the US).

In the online sphere, the study found that Canadian women are more active online in practically every category (e.g. instant messaging, watching short videos), with the exception of online shopping, with 57% in the US – where there is greater choice and more retailers competing for women’s share of spending online – vs. 41% in Canada.

The study, originally conducted in the US for clients like Disney/ABC, Lifetime TV, TiVo, WeTV and then replicated in Canada for comparison, is based on 1,000 interviews spanning parents with preschool kids, tweens or teens, young women, and empty nesters, conducted in Q1 2009 in Canada, with US benchmarks based on over 3,500 interviews between 2007 and 2009.