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E-commerce is a big business founded on a surprisingly small customer base. Online sales will total $21 billion this year, estimates online-marketing research firm eMarketer. Yet, just 29% of Canadians age 12 or older make any online purchases. And an even smaller minority—the 9%, or 2.8 million people, who spend more than $400 per year online— are the biggest drivers of the action.

This group’s top online-spending categories are, in order: vacation/travel; media (books, magazines, music and DVDs); event tickets (movies, concerts and sporting events); clothing; and home electronics/computers. This list is similar to the one for lesser e-spenders, report Environics Analytics and AskingCanadians.

But big e-spenders differ in other ways. They’re more urban, educated, upscale and ethnically diverse than the Canadian average. They’re also above average in feeling time-stressed. Despite their affluence, they like to save money on principle. And they see themselves as “consumption evangelists” who spread the word about brands they love—or loathe.

Although big e-shoppers are only average fans of traditional media, you can connect with them this way through selective media buys, such as those shown at right. But the easiest way to reach them is online. Big e-spenders are 16% more likely than the average person to be heavy Internet users, spending at least 16 hours per week online. And they love social-media sites, especially LinkedIn, and are more receptive than most people to marketing on these sites.

PrizmC2 cluster† YOUNG DIGERATI ELECTRIC AVENUES CONTINENTAL CULTURE
Affluent, tech-savvy residents of fashionable high-rise neighbourhoods in big cities. Have the time and money for active social lives, such as dancing, bar hopping and film festivals. Love to shop—and to give back to society. Middle-class, apartment-dwelling university grads in dense, older, big-city districts. Many are childless, so they have the disposable income to spend freely on music, natural foods and electronics. High rates for nightlife and athletic pursuits. Upscale first-and second-generation Canadians with roots in Italy, Greece, Portugal or Poland. Couples and young families in older, big-city neighbourhoods. Have diverse tastes—opera and gourmet markets, as well as theme parks and doughnut shops.
index†† 243 223 219
Total Population, 15-plus/average household income 265,000 / $127,000 263,000 / $90,000 148,000 / $104,000
SAMPLE NEIGHBOURHOOD VANCOUVER: SOUTHWEST DOWNTOWN—V6Z* CALGARY: KENSINGTON—T2N TORONTO: THE DANFORTH EAST —M4J
† Environics Analytics classifies Canadian households into 66 lifestyle types based on demographics, behaviour and values.
†† High e-spenders’ share of each cluster’s population, indexed versus an average of 100 for their share of all Canadians
* First three characters of postal code
Infographics by Brett Ramsay

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