Marketing’s influence in Canada: $29 billion; 1 million jobs and growing

Canada’s transition to a digital marketplace will drive widespread change in marketing and its impact on the economy over the next five years, according to a new report from the Canadian Marketing Association. Released today in Toronto, the report was prepared for CMA by the Conference Board of Canada.

“Marketing will play a critical role in business decision-making over the next five years as new digital tools and techniques come to market that will change the way we communicate with consumers and do business,” noted CMA President and CEO John Gustavson. “The effective use of these techniques will be key to managing brands and winning customers in this evolving environment.”

In 2011, business spent $29 billion on marketing-related activities in Canada (up from $21.3 billion in 2000), according to the report. Conference Board estimates also peg current marketing-related employment at nearly 1.1 million jobs in Canada or 6.3% of total employment in the country. And the prospects for the future are bright, with new opportunities in digital marketing (Internet, mobile, etc.) expected to be the main drivers of job growth and spending in marketing over the next five years.

“The key challenge for us as marketers is to fully embrace the opportunity that is unlocked by the digital transition – through a focus on engaging with consumers in a manner that builds relevance, engagement and trust,” said Shauna Emerson-O’Neill, Vice-President, Strategy and Business Innovation, Aimia. “Demonstrating restraint by acting not on the entire universe of possibilities – but on what insights suggest will deliver genuine customer value – will be imperative to building lasting relationships and loyalty.”

Positive e-commerce outlook

According to CMA, Canadian businesses will spend $17.3 billion on advertising alone in 2016, up from $14.4 billion in 2011. The Internet’s share of the overall ad spend pie is expected to climb to 26% by 2016, compared with 18% in 2011. This shift, notes the study, will generate substantial growth in e-commerce over the next five years, spurred by the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets.

“Beyond just shifting dollars from traditional to digital, marketers need to connect with their customers with the right content, at the right time,” noted Mathieu Peloquin, Vice-President of Marketing at TC Media. “It’s about taking advantage of the changing tools and new channels in the marketing mix, while mastering the art of having all relevant touch points working together to drive results.”

Respecting consumer choice

What will make the formula successful will be even more convenient ways for consumers to interact with business and a bond of trust between business and consumers that the interactions are safe and secure.

“Digital marketing, at its core, relies on a bond of trust between consumers and companies,” said Richard McLaughlin, Senior Vice-President of Global Products and Solutions at MasterCard Canada. “Canadians will turn their backs on any company that violates this bond of trust because they are passionate defenders of their right to privacy. As more and more Canadians embrace electronic forms of commerce, offers, coupons and loyalty programs, consumers have to be given the choice to participate and to what level. Any abuse will, undoubtedly, result in higher levels of regulation and consumer rejection.”

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