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December 20, 2001 Volume 4, Number 11


* Introduction - Editor's Comments

* What's New at

* Statistics Canada releases

* 'Tis the Season for Holiday Polls

* What's in store for e-Christmas 2001

* Small Business Stats Facts



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Welcome to this issue of the BR Newsletter.

I would like to thank everyone who came to visit our booth at the Small Business Information Expo. It is always a pleasure to put a face to an e-mail address!

You will see below that Statistics Canada has been very generous this holiday season and released a great deal of data over the last few weeks.

Of particular interest to business researchers is the household spending estimates data. If your market is Canadian households this data is an essential source of information for determining market size, share and trends for specific household product/service expenditures. It reveals how much households typical spend on your product/service in a year, what percentage of households report a purchase, and how income, geography and household type influence purchasing patterns. The data covers 1998, 1999 and 2000.

GDSourcing is an official distributor of this database. Instead of acting as a straight reseller though, we have enhanced the data with graphs, commentary and historical content and have made it more accessible to Canadian entrepreneurs. First and foremost, you only have to purchase the expenditure categories you need. (E.g. you don't have to buy the entire database if you only want to know about tent-trailer expenditures!)

A full Canadian Market Estimates profile includes expense segmentation by income quintiles (1999, 2000), by household type (1999, 2000) and by 10 provinces and 15 major metropolitan areas (1997-2000). The cost per expenditure category is $75.00 (for 3 or more categories the cost is $60 each).

While this is an amazing price (ask any other research firm!) we realize that many entrepreneurs in start-up mode have extremely limited budgets. Therefore this year we are offering a new Canadian Market Estimates Summary Profile. It provides national expenditure data for your particular product/service segmented by income quintile and household type. The cost is only $16.00

For more information on the products/services covered and to see sample profiles please see our web site at:

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. See you in 2002!


John White






The following web sites were added to the GDSourcing index over the last three weeks. GDSourcing is a reference point for free Canadian statistics on-line.


Canadian Labour & Business Centre

GDSourcing Site Summary:

- Where Did All the Workers Go? The Challenges of the Aging Workforce, workplace data


Baker Hughes

GDSourcing Site Summary:

- Rotary Rig Count 1985 - 2001 Canadian Land & Offshore Split, 1964 - 2001 Canadian Count


IDC Canada

GDSourcing Site Summary:

- Canadian PC Market - (Personal Computers) - factory shipments by company: IBM, Dell, Compaq, HP, and Toshiba. Also includes releases on overall IT market and IT channel






The following statistics were release by Statistics Canada over the last three weeks. We have listed those releases we feel are of the most interest to Canadian entrepreneurs.

Very few of these statistics are available on-line. The URL listed is a direct link to the press release associated with the data. It provides contact and ordering information.

If you want to purchase any publication related to these releases please see our web site:

We offer a 20% discount on most Stats Can publications and a 10% discount on Stats Can electronic products. For more information you can reach us at Put "StatsCan" in the subject line of your e-mail.




Production and value of honey and maple products 2001


Canadian Potato Production 2001 (preliminary) and 2000 (revised)


Farming operating revenues and expenses 2000 (preliminary estimates)


Canada Food Stats




Accounting and bookkeeping services 1999


Registered Retirement Savings Plan contributions 2000


Savers, investors and investment income 2000


Employer-sponsored pension plans January 1, 2000


Survey of Financial Security: Private pension savings 1999


Architectural services 1999


Annual Survey of Engineering Services Industry 1999


Annual Survey of Surveying and Mapping Services 1999


Translation and interpretation services 1999




Charitable donors 2000




Information and communications technologies 2000


Annual Survey of Software Development and Computer Services 1999


Informatics professional services price indexes 1999 (preliminary)




Real estate rental and leasing and property management industries 1999


National Construction Industry Wage Rate Survey 2001


Capital expenditures by type of asset 1998 and 1999


Survey of the Construction Industry 1998 and 1999




The male-female wage gap: what do the various estimates mean? 1997


Multifactor productivity 2000


Differences in interprovincial productivity 1996-1997




Measuring student's skills and knowledge: The performance of Canada's youth in reading, mathematics and science 2000


Participation in postsecondary education and family income 1998




Electric power generating stations 2000




Federal government finance: Assets and liabilities March 31, 2001


Provincial and territorial government finance: Assets and liabilities March 31, 2000




Alternative health care practitioners 1998/99




Annual Survey of Traveller Accommodation 1999


Food services and drinking places 1999




Annual Survey of Internet Service Providers 1999


Wired young Canadians, Older surfers, Connected to the Internet, still connected to life?




Crime statistics 2000


Sentencing in adult criminal courts 1999/2000




Estimates of household spending 2000

*** For more details on this data see information above in Editor's Comments


Births 1999


Postcensal population estimates by various characteristics July 1, 2001 (preliminary)


Postcensal population estimates by various characteristics July 1, 1998 to 2001 (preliminary)


Survey of Financial Security: Private pension savings 1999


Income trends in Canada on CD-ROM 1980 to 1999


Low-income cutoffs for 2000 and low-income measures for 1999




Canada Food Stats


Dynamics of manufacturing in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver 1976 to 1997


Dynamics of the manufacturing sector in metropolitan and rural regions 1976 to 1997




Personal service industry 1999




Air fare statistics 1999 (preliminary)


Airport activity statistics 2000 (preliminary)


Travel arrangement services 1999






Polling has become a powerful marketing tool. Private companies and organizations have always hired professional polling companies to collect data on Canadian consumers. What has changed is that while at one time such activities were conducted for internal purposes only, marketers have since found that journalists love consumer insight and so will often publish any survey results made available to them.

Consumer poll results are especially plentiful around Christmas time. Businesses that have a stake in the holiday market are eager to have their company name at the top of people's minds. In December 1998 Visa Canada released the results of a holiday spending poll and achieved a total of 140 million positive media impressions. (Among the findings: 40% of Canadians buy a gift for their pets.) The following year, the results yielded 237 million positive media impressions. Clearly, polling can be a very effective marketing tool.

For the Business researcher these releases can be a valuable source of insight into a variety of consumer behavior issues. This season we have seen results on everything from "holiday heartburn" ( to the practice of "regifting" (

While many of these polls appear in national and local newspapers, the best place to locate them is Canada Newswire: This is where the vast majority of survey results are released.

Of course as with any data, a researcher should be cautious about the source. There are a few things to watch for.

First, it is best if a reputable third party research firm has collected the data. (e.g. Canadian Tire hired Ipsos-Reid to conduct the above poll on "regifting" and Canadian shopping habits) While Christmas polling is lucrative, research companies depend on their reputation as a reliable, unbiased source of information to generate their primary source of income. They will not risk corporate credibility for a couple of annual surveys. Be wary of surveys that are conducted entirely in-house by one corporation.

Secondly, look carefully at the nature and size of the sample used. Ideally you want at least 500 responses, more than a 1000 is better. However once you get over the 1000 respondent threshold, data quality does not dramatically increase. (e.g. a sample of 2000 is not twice as good as a sample of 1000).

Also consider how the data was collected. Were people randomly stopped in a mall or in a specific store or were they telephoned at home? The environment of contact can influence responses and the nature of the respondent.

For example a poll released by La Senza states "When asked what women will be giving their female friends and family, pajamas topped the list at 28 per cent." While this is an insightful revelation, keep in mind the question was only asked to customers in a La Senza store.


This does not mean that the survey results are wrong. It just means that you can not take the 28% and apply it to the entire population (e.g. 28% of Canadian women are not necessarily going to get pajamas for Christmas (could be more, could be less.) What the poll is telling you is that nearly one third of women who shop at Canada's largest lingerie retailer are going to purchase pajamas as a present.

We know from other sources that La Senza holds a 20% market share in the Canadian lingerie market. The Bay leads the way with a 25% share while Zellers, Wal-Mart, Sears and others battle it out for the remaining 55%.

Certainly, La Senza customers represent a specific sub-market within the Canadian lingerie sector. However as a business researcher you have to acknowledge the fact that the La Senza poll represents the opinions of that particular market segment.

Finally, consider what questions were asked of respondents. Do they reflect how the results have been reported? In some cases a news release or newspaper article highlights the most exciting results of a poll so that they can create an eye-catching headline. Make sure you read the actual poll carefully. Does the "exciting stat" really reveal the core opinion/information gathered from the poll?

Again with the La Senza poll above, one headline read: "Naughty or Nice for the Holidays? 21 per cent say they want sexy babydolls from their partner." While this headline with an accompanying picture will certain attract attention, it does really reveal the core survey results which are:

"The vast majority of women surveyed, more than 80 per cent, say women -- mothers, sisters, friends ... not boyfriends, are most likely to purchase holiday gifts of lingerie. Only nine per cent of women surveyed expect to receive gifts of intimate apparel from boyfriends. When asked what women will be giving their female friends and family, pajamas topped the list at 28 per cent. Cotton/flannel sleepwear was a close second at 19 per cent. "

We always recommend that business researchers save their money by getting someone else to pay for surveys. However free surveys must be used with caution. The data is always collected for a purpose other than researching your specific business. Use all the relevant information you can find but keep you wits about you. Make sure you understand what the numbers are really telling you.





We have seen a number of surveys released over the last few weeks that report on Canadian on-line holiday shopping intentions. You would think that with the plethora of information available a clear picture of this season's performance would emerge. WRONG!

The following results all claim to represent Canadian online holiday shopping intentions for 2001:


21% of Canadians planned to shop online during the Christmas season (Same as last year)

IPSOS / REID (Nov, 2001)

16% of Canadians plan to shop online during the Christmas Season

(Up 6% over last year).


14% of Canadians planned to shop online during the Christmas season

(Up 40% over last year)

POLLARA (Nov, 2001)

7.5% of Canadian Women plan to shop online during the Christmas Season


(Dec 5 2001)

2% of Canadians plan to shop online during the Christmas Season

(Down 50% over last year)



Who is right? We might have a better idea come January when the post Christmas shopping polls are released. For now, the best a business researcher can do is look at the methodology each poll employed. The following quotes are from each research firm:



The results are based on two separate data collection instruments. In the first, 1,000 web users from Ipsos-Reid's Canadian Internet Panel are surveyed online. Panelists are chosen through random telephone surveys conducted on an ongoing basis across Canada. Results are complemented by a further 1,000 interviews via telephone with Canadian adults in order to verify results of the panel, and track issues among non-Internet users. Telephone interviews for this release were conducted between September 6th and 19th, 2001 while the online data was collected between September 18th and 25th, 2001. Our panelists represent approximately 12.6 million Canadian adult Internet users who are online for one hour a week or more (there are a total of 15.6 million adults who have Internet access).

With a national sample of 1,000 (for each component), one can say with 95% certainty that the overall results are within a maximum of ±3.1 percentage points of what they would have been had the entire population of Canada's regular online users been surveyed.



The poll was done through a random survey of 1,600 Canadian adults



The 2001 American Express Canadian Holiday Shopping Survey is based on telephone interviews conducted among random samples of 607 adult Canadians and 200 American Express Card members between November 9th and November 15th. Samples of this size produce national results that can be considered accurate within 4.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error increased when the results were broken down by Card member. The research was conducted by Léger Marketing.



The national telephone survey was conducted between October 25th and October 31st, 2001. A total of 1,000 male and female respondents 18 years of age and older were interviewed. The findings are accurate, plus or minus 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20



Surveys were conducted daily during a one week period at all 6 shopping centres. 600 qualified surveys were completed. All survey candidates were female, 84% were the primary shopper in their household, 83% were between the ages 25-54 years and 40% had children under 18 years of age.


Certainly the IPSOS-REID poll has the most comprehensive sample. As a researcher however it is important not to arbitrarily dismiss one poll over another. For your market research to be effective you need to keep all the results in mind.

Also consider how the results of each could be affected. Some of the Ipsos-Reid polling was done prior to 09/11. The Anthony Russell & Associates poll was strictly conducted in Canadians malls and involved only women. The American Express survey was heavily weighted with American Express clients who the year before also indicated low online shopping intentions (4%)

The varying online shopping intention levels released could also reflect the emotional roller coaster we have all been on this fall. At one point in October the thought of receiving a package in the mail was frightening.

Finally keep in mind that every poll has an accuracy level. Most of the above polls are plus or minus 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20. Any one of the above results could be the statistical 1 out of 20 and therefore entirely inaccurate or any of the percentages could increase or decrease by 3.1% or more.

Still the question remains - what sort of e-Christmas is in store for 2001? Looking at the polls and judging from our own performance and that of my wife's fleece clothing business (fleece wraps, ponchos, baby clothes, hats etc.) (, I will go out on a limb and suggest a range of 16%-18% of Canadians will be shopping on-line this Christmas. Of course how much they are actually going to spend is another question altogether. If you want a definite answer on that one call me in January!



Do you need to know as soon as new Canadian Internet data is released?

Sign up to receive our free e-mail update anytime a new release is available. You can sign up at:





1. How prevalent is cell phone and pager use among Canadian small businesses?

Employees of Canadian small businesses (93 per cent) are almost three times as likely to use cell phones as the Canadian population (33 per cent). They are also nearly twice as likely (21 per cent) to use pagers as the general population (11 per cent).

Source: Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA)/Paging Council (Dec 6 2001)



2. Will Small Business continue to use cell phones and pagers?

More than 58 per cent of small businesses surveyed say they expect to use a cell phone more often in the future (vs. one per cent who say they'll use them less often); and nearly 19 per cent say they will use two-way pagers more often (vs. four per cent who say they'll use them less often).

Source: Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA)/Paging Council (Dec 6 2001)



3. What outlook for the future do Canadian small businesses have?

Despite the current economic climate, Canadian small businesses are still optimistic about the future. Of those responding, nearly 95 per cent say they expect to have either the same number of employees or even more employees over the next five years. The majority of survey responses (69 per cent) came from businesses with five or fewer employees.

Source: Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA)/Paging Council (Dec 6 2001)



4. What are the top ten business opportunities for 2002?


1. Small Indulgences: feel-good products for stressful times

2. E-health: improving the health-care system through information technology

3. Her Money: financial advice for women

4. Auto Repair: saving people money by keeping their cars running longer

5. Endings: preparing an aging population for death

6. Information Brokers: finding what your clients want to know in a glut of information

7. In-home Services: beautify consumers' hair and gardens

8. Online Moms: organize people's lives over the Net

9. Mr. Fix-It 2.0: computer repairs for home-based and small businesses

10. Security: from privacy software to franchised security firms

Source: Profit Magazine Dec/Jan 2002 issue



5. What percentage of small business owners have put a continuation plan in place in preparation for retirement, disability or death?


Source: The Imperial Life Assurance Company of Canada (Nov 28, 2001)



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