Author Archive: Felecia Lowe

NSA and Snowden: Canadians, Terrorism and Online Privacy

Canadians Willing to Give Up Some Privacy to Prevent Terrorism; Few think Snowden should be prosecuted.

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According to a new survey from Abacus Data, most Canadians would support giving up some personal privacy if it helped investigations into possible terrorist threats but most do not think the government should be able to monitor everyone’s online activities.

Specifically related to the events surrounding Edward Snowden’s leaking of information about the U.S. Government’s efforts at collecting information about telephone calls, e-mails and other online communications as part of efforts to monitor terrorist activity, most Canadians do not consider Snowden a traitor and only one in four believe he should be prosecuted for breaking U.S. laws.

Throughout this report, we reference results from a Pew Research Center study in which we replicated some of the questions asked in that survey.  The Pew survey was conducted from June 6 to 9, 2013[1].

In contrast to Americans, our survey finds that Canadians are less likely to be following the NSA/Snowden story closely and fewer Canadians support allowing government to monitor everyone’s email and other online activities if officials say this might prevent future terrorist attacks.

Half of Canadians Following NSA News “Very Closely” or “Fairly Closely”

Almost half (49%) of all Canadians said that they were following news stories about the NSA collecting telephone records fairly or very closely. Just less than a third of respondents (29%) said that they had not been following the story too closely, where the remainder of respondents 22% said they were not following the story at all.

Those living in Ontario (58%) and those with a university degree or higher (61%) were more likely to say they are following news of the story very closely or fairly closely.

Not surprisingly, Americans are more likely to say they are following the story very closely than Canadians.

With most news stories, interest is higher among older Canadians, and lower among younger Canadians. In this case, news stories are being followed as closely by younger Canadians as older Canadians indicating this issue is of particular interest to younger Canadians who spend far more time online.  Throughout the report we report the difference in attitudes between age groups.

Snowden: A whistleblower, not a traitor, according to Canadians

Canadian respondents in the Abacus Data survey who followed at least some news on the NSA leak story were asked whether they considered Edward Snowden a traitor or a whistleblower.  Overall sixty per cent (60%) considered Edward Snowden a whistleblower whereas 15% consider him a traitor. Still another one in four respondents (26%) said that they would describe his as neither a traitor nor a whistleblower.

There was little variation across demographic, regional, or political groups on whether a respondent considered Snowden a whistleblower or a traitor.

Keeping this result in mind, it is not surprising that only one in four Canadians (23%) believed that Snowden should be prosecuted for breaking U.S. laws.  Forty-three percent believed that he should not be prosecuted while 34% were unsure.  Once again, there was little variation across subgroups.

Privacy vs. Online Security

The next set of questions  were meant to replicate the questions asked in the study of American attitudes towards the issue by the Pew Research  Center.

In Canada, six in ten Canadians (62%) who have been following the story to some extent (n=782) believed that it was more important for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy.  This is same result found by Pew in its study of U.S. public opinion.

In contrast, thirty-eight percent of respondents believed it was more important for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.


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There was a large generational difference in the Abacus Data survey.  Canadians aged 18 to 44 were far more split on what was more important with about half believing that government should not intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.  Younger Canadians are far more concerned about protecting their privacy than older Canadians who are more likely to support intrusions if it helps prevent terror attacks.

What do you think is more important now?


All Respondents following the news story




For the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy





For the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats






There was a similar relationship between views on privacy vis-a-vis terrorism and political party support in Canada.  Conservative Party and Liberal Party supporters were more likely to think it is important for the government to investigate terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy while NDP and BQ supporters were more likely to favour protecting personal privacy.

Should the Government Be Able to Monitor Everyone’s Email and Other Online Activities

Only one in three Canadians (33%) who followed the NSA story to some extent believed that the Canadian government should be able to monitor everyone’s email and other online activities if officials say this might prevent future terrorist attacks while 48% believed they should not be able to monitor people’s online activities.  Nineteen percent were unsure.

Once again, there was a significant relationship between age group and support for monitoring everyone’s online activity.  Only 15% of Canadians aged 18 to 29 believed that the Canadian government should monitor online activities if officials say it might prevent future terrorist attacks compared with 34% of those aged 30 to 44 and 43% for those aged 45 to 59.

Canadian Millennials would likely be the most opposed to a program that monitors all online activity in Canada.

According to the Pew Research study, Americans were more closely divided with 45% believing that the US government should be able to monitor online activities and 52% believing they should not be allowed to.

Bottom Line

The results of this survey are somewhat confounding.

On the one hand, a majority of Canadians believe that it is more important for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy than for the government to not intrude on personal privacy.

On the other hand, almost a majority oppose the idea mass monitoring of online activity even if officials say this might prevent future terrorist attacks.

In other words, Canadians would welcome targeted online surveillance of suspected terrorist threats but would oppose a broader program of online surveillance.  This is especially true of younger Canadians who spend far more time online.

When it comes to Edward Snowden and his leaking of classified information about the NSA’s surveillance program, most Canadians who have been following the story to some extent would describe him as a whistleblower, and not a traitor.  Moreover, only 23% believe he should be prosecuted for breaking U.S. laws.


[1] The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted June 6-9, 2013, among a national sample of 1,004 adults 18 years of age or older living in the continental United States (501 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 503 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 247 who had no landline telephone). The survey was conducted by interviewers at Princeton Data Source under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International. For detailed survey methodology see


The survey was conducted online with 999 respondents in English and French using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a representative panel of Canadians.  The survey was completed from June 19 to 23, 2013.

Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated.   The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association prohibits statements about margins of sampling error or population estimates with regard to most online panels.

The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 999 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, education level, and region.

These questions were posed as part of the Abacus Data monthly Omnibus survey. 

Method Thoughts: Another Look at Federal Vote Intentions

On Monday, we released our latest federal political update that included vote intentions, evaluations of federal party leaders, and the job approval of the Harper government.

In the release, I noted that we were no longer going to report “decided voters” as a result of what happened during the BC election and the polling industry.  You can read my thoughts on what the election meant for our own polling.

My proposals for change in the way we report the vote intention have sparked a lot of necessary discussion.  Many people appreciated our new approach by including all respondents and focusing a little more on undecided voters.  Others, including some journalists were unsure what to make of it as they were used to seeing the standard “decided voters” number we have used in the past.This divisive state is only common everywhere and therefore, going with the one that benefits you abundantly is the key! For example, although few favor the cryptocurrency investment procedures, others remain skeptical but, if you belong to the category of the formers then, go ahead with your plan with the best means from this source to your rescue!

Significant change to the usual industry traditions will in all cases covet discussion and often opposition. Change takes time and a willingness for trial and error.

Since Abacus Data was founded in 2010, we have always asked whether we could do things different and challenge convention.  At the same time, I value the utility derived from consensus on industry standards.

It is a matter of balance.

Reporters, pundits, and the public are used to seeing vote intention numbers look like this: Liberal 29%, Conservative 27%, NDP 26% as opposed to this: Liberal 23%, Conservative 21%, NDP 21%.

To continue contributing to a public discussion on political polling numbers, we will  report both for the sake of transparency. Additionally, I will continue to work with our media partners to make sure that we don’t forget to focus on those undecided voters as we try to make sense of public opinion and where Canadians are in terms of their vote preference.

That being said, in the table below we have included five sets of data from our latest survey in relation to vote intention.


Column 1 = All respondents, main vote intention question (as reported yesterday)
Column 2 = Remove undecided voters
Column 3 = Results of follow up question to undecided voters
Column 4 = Vote intention with “leaners” added to “decided voters”
Column 5 = Traditional vote intention with “decided voters and leaners” only

Federal Politics: Tories down 7 points since April

According to a new national survey by public opinion firm Abacus Data, the federal Liberal Party, Conservative Party, and NDP are now in a three-way tie for the lead in federal vote intentions. Support for the federal Conservatives is down seven points since April 2013.

Among all Canadians, 23% said they vote for the Liberal Party (up one point since April) while 21% would vote Conservative (down seven points) and NDP (down two points). Green Party support is up to eight percent nationally (up three points since April) while the Bloc Quebecois is steady at 4% nationally.

Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were undecided, up three points since April.


This is the first time in our tracking since late 2011 that the Conservative Party has dropped below first place.

NOTE: Abacus Data no longer releases “decided voter” results due to the volatile nature of the electorate and the importance of understanding the motivations and size of undecided voters in Canada. In our view, voters are not decided until they cast a ballot in an election. See the lessons we learned from the BC election.

Subgroup Analysis

Regionally, the Conservative Party continues to dominate in Alberta (38%) and in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (36%) while being statistically tied with the Liberals in Ontario (LPC 26%, CPC 24%).

The federal Conservatives are strongest among men (26% vs. 17% among women) and among those aged 60 and over (28% vs. 17% for those aged 18 to 44). They also do best in rural Canada (27% vs. 19% in urban communities).

The Liberal Party leads in Atlantic Canada (31% vs. 20% for the NDP), in Quebec (28% vs. 22% for the NDP) and is statistically tied with the Conservatives in Ontario (26% vs. 24% for the CPC). West of the Ontario border, the Liberals are weaker, getting only 14 to 15% of the vote in the four western provinces.

Demographically, the Liberals are strongest with middle aged Canadians aged 30 to 44 (26%) and among those with a university degree (32% vs. 19% with those who have high school or less).

The federal NDP is strongest in BC (30%), Quebec (22%), and Ontario (20%). They also do well among younger Canadians (aged 18 to 29 – 25%)

Women are much more likely to say they are undecided than men (women 25% vs. men 16%).Well, women might be indecisive when it comes to the election but, when it comes to the suitable financial solutions, the decisive state of the women is only evident, as they rightly favor more unconventional yet more profitable means like the Bitcoin Trader! If you are eager, discover this site that has more info on the mentioned solution!

Voter Turnout Model

When we statistically weight the data to match age distributions among the actual voting population in the 2011 election (age group), we find that the Conservative support increases slightly to 22% while the undecided percentage decreases by one point. If voter turnout in a hypothetical election was similar to the 2011, Conservative support would increase slightly, but only because of their advantage among older Canadians.


Direction of the Country and Government Approval

Respondents were also asked to rate the direction of the country.

Overall, opinions have not changed significantly since March 2013. Currently, 36% of Canadians believe the country is generally headed in the right direction while 47% believe it is headed on the wrong track. Seventeen percent were unsure.

Respondents living in Quebec were more likely to believe the country was headed on the wrong track (60%) than those living in Ontario (47%) or the prairie provinces (MB/SK 38%, AB 34%).

When asked to rate the job performance of the federal government led by Stephen Harper, 31% of Canadians either strongly (7%) or somewhat (24%) approved while 50% either strongly (26%) or somewhat (24%) disapproved.

Approval was highest in Alberta (45%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (45%) and in Ontario (38%) while lowest in Quebec (15%) and Atlantic Canada (23%).

Federal Party Leader Impressions

When asked for their overall impressions of the four main party leaders, there was little change in the overall impression of the leaders.

Justin Trudeau is the most popular leader in Canada with 40% of respondents saying they have a favourable impression of the Liberal Leader (down three points since April). Trudeau’s unfavourable numbers are up six points since April.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also has a net favourable rating with 34% saying they have a favourable impression of the NDP leader (up five points since April) and 24% having an unfavourable impression (down one point).

Prime Minister Harper’s numbers have not moved much at all since April. Thirty percent of Canadians have a favourable impression of him while 49% have an unfavourable impression. Only 18% of Canadians say they have a neutral impression of the Prime Minister.


Bottom Line

Since April, the political opinion landscape in Canada has shifted substantially.

Support for the federal Conservative Party is down seven points from 28% to 21% in two months. This is the first time in our tracking that the Conservative Party has not been either in the lead or tied in the lead.

But despite the drop in Conservative support, neither the Liberal Party nor the NDP has been able to gain much momentum with the Liberals only up a statistically insignificant one point and the NDP down two points since April.

Instead, the support for the Green Party and the number of undecided voters is up three points respectively.

“Conservative voters who might be upset with the Government over the Senate spending scandals and the Duffy-Wright affair have moved away from the Conservatives but they aren’t shifting in big numbers to either of the main opposition parties,” said Coletto.

“Instead, some may be parking their votes with the Green Party in protest while others are telling us they are now undecided.”

“The challenge for the Liberals and the NDP is that many former Conservative voters won’t vote Liberal or NDP,” said Coletto. “So their best hope is for them to stay home and protest the Harper Government by not casting a ballot.”

“We saw this happen in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2008. Upset with the Harper Government and motivated by Danny Williams’ ABC campaign, former Conservative supporters in Newfoundland and Labrador did not vote NDP or Liberal, they just stayed home. Voter turnout in the province in 2008 sank like a stone.”

“The fact that government approval is down six points since March tells me that some former Tory voters are becoming disillusioned with the government and its once rock solid core of support may be questionning that support in the future.”


The survey was conducted online with 999 respondents in English and French using an internet survey programmed and collected by Abacus Data. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a representative panel of Canadians. The survey was completed from June 19 to 23, 2013.

Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated. The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association prohibits statements about margins of sampling error or population estimates with regard to most online panels.

The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 999 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, education level, and region.

These questions were posed as part of the Abacus Data monthly Omnibus survey.

Insight Innovation Competition 2013 – Help Sean Copeland get to the IIeX conference!

I like to think of myself as an independently capable person, but there always comes a time when you need help from your family, friends and peers. Please help me!


Help Sean Copeland get to the Insight Innovation Exchange North America by voting for our submissionto the Insight Innovation Competition.


RetailSenses Concept


Optimizing Digital Signage with Automated In-store Eye Tracking

Click here to vote now

“Imagined and organized by GreenBook, the Insight Innovation Competition helps budding entrepreneurs bring disruptive ideas to life, while connecting brands to fresh and untapped sources of competitive advantage through deeper consumer understanding.” – 

Here are the top 5 reasons why Sean Copeland needs to go to the Insight Innovation Exchange NA in Philadelphia on June 17-19, 2013:

  1. We are currently in the lead to present our RetailSenses concept at the conference as part of the Insight Innovation Competition, which has led to funding, partnerships, new clients, and global brand exposure for others in the past. Talking  about the funding, we know, how it is difficult for the new businesses with entirely new concepts to gain the confidence of the investors! It is because no one wants to risk their financial position by supporting a concept whose success is not assuredly guaranteed, at least, as of now! The best example is the scenario of the cryptocurrencies, which although seems to be a futuristic concept, still received with speculations that affect the participation rate of the population!If you are one such person, who although attracted by the concept of the cryptocurrencies, still receive them only with hesitations then, here is the better way to participate in the cryptocurrency investment market by carefully guarding your position with the help of the automated crypto robots!Read Full Report on the same to gain enough knowledge on the subject!
  2. One of our international technology partners ( has a booth there and is also presenting. This provides us with many opportunities to be introduced in-person by this partner to potential clients working in Canada and elsewhere.
  3. Everyone attending this event is eager to discuss new types of technology offerings. “We connect new thinkers driving innovation with seasoned practitioners looking for better ways to engage consumers, make sense of big data, leverage new technologies, and overcome business challenges.”
  4. Attending the event gives us the opportunity to blog about it beforehand, during and after for those who can’t make it.
  5. The organizer (Lenny Murphy) spoke with me personally and said that I have to come. I do want to go.


Thank you in advance for your kind support!

Are Canadians Real Estate Obsessed?

Raise your hand if you have searched real estate listings online even if you weren’t actively looking to buy a new home or condo?

Now, raise your hand if you ever wanted to know how much homes or condos in your neighbourhood sold for?

Have you ever visited an open-house even when you had no intention of buying/selling or moving?

Well if you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re not alone.

Canadians are Real Estate Obsessed

Abacus Data conducted a survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 30 to 50 for Zoocasa, Canada’s fastest growing online and mobile real estate service

Zoocasa_Results_June2013FINALThe survey found that most Canadians aged 30 to 50 are thinking about real estate on a regular basis and 34% describe themselves or know someone who is “real estate obsessed”?But, nothing wrong in being a ‘real estate obsessed’ but, what is wrong is being one, without finding suitable ways to satisfy the obsession! Exactly, it is the money we are here talking about! Without money being obsessed with real estate wouldn’t work out and hence, look at this now to acquire the needed funds to fulfill your valid obsession!

So,How obsessed are Canadians about real estate?

Well, in the GTA, obsession with real estates reaches a different level than in other parts of Canada.  Almost a majority of respondents (47%) living in and around Toronto describe themselves or someone they know as real estate obsessed, 13 points higher than in the rest of Canada!

Zoocasa_Results_June2013FINALNeed more proof? Hockey is Canada’s great national pastime. The poll was conducted during the NHL playoffs and just as many people in the GTA say real estate is a common topic of conversation as hockey.

Here’s some more stats from the poll:

  • 94% of respondents would be interested to in a service that would allow them to find out home much money homes in their neighbourhood sold for.
  • 94% of respondents said it was important for them to see pictures and information about a property before seeing it.
  • 85% percent of respondents have browsed online property listings in the past year.
  • 28% of respondents have visited an open house in the past year.

What is Zoocasa?

zoocasa_logoLast month, Zoocasa launched a revolutionary new real estate search site that, for the first time in Canada, allows homebuyers and sellers to search for homes and compare and connect with experienced real estate agents online.

A major component of this new site is a rebate for sellers or buyers when they close the sale or purchase of a home with a Zoocasa partner agent. The rebate is worth thousands of dollars in cash and gift cards from national retailers like Best Buy, Future Shop, Home Depot, Sears, Canadian Tire, Rogers, etc.. On a typical $550,000 transaction, a home buyer or seller can expect the rebate to exceed $2,000.

Zoocasa’s new home and agent search is initially focused on Real Estate in the Greater Toronto Area but will be rolling out across major markets in Canada.


The Abacus Data survey was conducted online from June 3 to June 6, 2013.  A total of 1,000 Canadians were surveyed. The margin of error for a probability-based random sample of 1,000 respondents is +/- 3.1% 19 times out of 20.

Air Canada Gets Mixed Feedback on Hat Heavy New Uniform Launch

Air Canada Flight Attendants
Air Canada’s new flight attendants get some new uniforms thanks to Air Canada Rouge’s (it’s new low-cost brand) launch this summer. Thousands of Facebook users are taking this opportunity to share their positive, and not so positive, feedback about Air Canada and the uniforms. Here are select few of the most recent public comments from the Facebook thread:


“Wow! Two of the three are missing their luggage already. Par for the course!”

“The hats are silly. Air Canada would get more customers by forcing Aeroplan to get rid of that incredibly customer unfriendly 7 year expiry on Aeroplan points.”

“Minus the hats, they look like Catholic High School kids.”

When I first saw this photo in a Facebook message from a friend, I thought for a moment that it was for some kind of pop music video involving air travel and an A Capella group.  To my surprise, this is a photo of the newest Air Canada uniforms that are being introduced … which I think were found in my great grandfathers lost suitcase from 1935.

I took a couple of minutes to import all of the Facebook comments into Wordle so that we could all get a better look at the overall themes emerging based on descriptive words only. Take a look and let me know your thoughts.

Air Canada New Uniforms Wordle

There are so many types of research that could have been done, and may have been done, to determine what these uniforms should look like. I would love to know what research was done because I can’t help but feel based on the comments I’ve read, that they didn’t quite get the design right. This is definitely an instance where I would have recommended some crowdsourcing for insights from frequent travellers, current Aeroplan cardholders, and definitely some fashion designers.

An article in the Globe and Mail points out that “cost savings” were behind every decision regarding the new uniforms. Well, cost savings seems to be the problem of everyone! While Air Canada had found its own way to tackle the problem, are you not interested in finding your own solution for the problem? If ‘yes’ is your answer then, our solution is the cryptocurrency trading practice using the uncomplicated means like the Bitcoin Code auto-trading platform! To know more, read the article on the same! Ok, back to Air Canada!

Unfortunately for Air Canada, making costs and value your number one priority isn’t actually going to make your customers happier in the long-run, improve your brand reputation – or your bottom line. Take one trip with United Airlines and you’ll know exactly what “cost savings” leads to. Brands need to start recognizing who their new generation of customers are and that they want more of a brand connection than just value. Good research can save brands from 5-year disasters like these uniforms.

(Take a quick look at our Millennial segments for more information on what that generation wants.)

Honestly though, who thought the ties and hats were a good idea? I have a feeling their focus group research involved a few too many of these guys:

Look Like New Air Canada Uniforms


Millennials might be down, but don’t count them out.

Guest Blogger: Zach Dayler, National Director, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations

CASA boasts of a membership of 25 student associations representing over 300,000 students.

The last time I was unemployed was three years ago. I had just finished a Masters degree in urban planning and had almost no leads on a job in my field. I moved back in with my parents at age 25 and had no idea what my next steps were.

Talking about the unemployment, understand, it is not an unsolvable problem these days, thankfully due to the availability of profitable and uncomplicated ways like the cryptocurrency investment procedures. Our site would not only educate you on this but also would allow you to find the reliable means to venture the practice! Ok, let’s continue reading to know how this person tackled the unemployment problem!

I was not alone; graduating in the wake of a global recession was a terrible time for many Millennials finishing with very few opportunities to capitalize on. I was lucky.

Millennials are, by all accounts, the most well educated cohort in Canada’s demographic landscape.

We also face significant challenges, especially during periods of transition, which have made it difficult for many to find relevant and stable employment.

Couple this with the perceived fragility of Canada’s economic recovery and mounting levels of student debt and it may look like the reasons for us to be optimistic are dwindling.

Despite these challenges, it is crucial to note that there is no group in society better prepared to deal with the rapidly accelerating pace of change that will be brought forth by technological advancements.

The frequently applied moniker ‘digital natives’ is as significant and accurate a label as any that exists for this generation.

Recently, Monika Kosinska, Secretary-General of the European Health Authority said: “[Youth] are ideally placed to capitalise on the explosion of new technologies and greater global interconnectivity, and are already using these technologies to reshape our societies and democracies.”

Harnessing our strength will be crucial as the country stares down an anticipated demographic crunch described as “unprecedented in history, both in scope and size,” by the Bank of Canada. Every working age Canadian will have to be demonstrably more productive in the years to come in order to meet the needs of our society.

Education Matters! And Millennials are Educated.

While the recession exacerbated the challenges ahead of us, it also exposed the resilience of those who had attained high levels of education. We are well placed not just because many of us have advanced credentials, but also because of the methods by which we have learned. Computing and its applications are ubiquitous in our education system. For the majority of individuals who access our post-secondary system the outcomes are tremendously positive.

Canada is the most Educated Nation in the World

Canada recently retained its ranking as the most educated nation in the world. This comparative educational advantage has benefited us for years and will continue to do so, but other nations are hot on our heels. To maintain our advantages we will need to creatively approach the challenge of funding post-secondary and ensuring a fluid transition from secondary to tertiary education and then into the workforce.

For us, disruption does not equate to destruction.

Canada is the most educated country in the world according to the OECD.

Canada is the most educated country in the world according to the OECD.

In our relatively short lives we have experienced the world going online firsthand.

This paradigm shift is emblematic of the nature of changes that we can expect in the future. Being at the forefront of progress will mean not simply adapting to it, but shaping it directly through business, government, and social movements. These changes create an opportunity for young Canadians to take a leadership role and work with decision makers throughout society.

Unfortunately Millennials still face the challenge of having their voices heard by those in power. Our rates of democratic engagement are low and participation is the key to recognition in electoral politics. Millennials could play a more significant role in shaping public policy if they voted in higher numbers.

The ME ME ME Generation; Why they’ll save us all

TIME Magazine recently ran a cover story about the Millennial generation. In hisarticle Joel Stein frames the Millennial generation as bloggers, hackers, terrorists and app-makers taking on entire industries. The title frames us as “lazy, entitled, narcissists who still live with their parents,” and elaborates with facts and testimonials about our narcissism:

“They’re already so comfortable in front of the camera that the average American 1-year-old has more images of himself than a 17th century French king.”


At first glance this article is in line with all of the misconceptions that our research has found among older generations looking in at the GenY cohort in Canada. Our December 2011 survey asked how non-millennial Canadians, 30 and over, would describe the Millennial generation, or those born between 1980 and 2000.

Stein highlights that, “what Millennials are most famous for besides narcissism is its effect: entitlement.” Our survey of 1,000 Canadian adults found that people who fall into our parents and grandparents age groups typically had a negative impression of the Millennials. They primarily framed us as materialistic, coddled, lazy and spoiled. The word cloud below presents findings from the open-ended question included on this survey.

“What Millennials are most famous for besides narcissism is its effect: entitlement.”

Millennial Word Cloud Good Copy

While they point out all of the negatives, non-Millennial Canadians are right about a few other things: Millennials are confident, tech-savvy and certainly connected. We were raised believing that we are important, special, and even gifted people who can achieve anything.  Moreover, our natural comfort with technology and a digital world means we can easily weed out inauthentic claims, connect with friends and acquaintances around the world, and work from home.

.  Work from home, this is indeed true and the strength of we millennials, where we discover more realistic options to support our living and beyond! One such realistic work from home options is the cryptocurrency investment procedure using the automated crypto robot, about which you can now see more! More about the millennials!

When motivated we can be more productive, innovative, and industrious than those before us.

As a generation, we work hard when motivated and encouraged but we also value flexibility, free time, teamwork, consensus, and the ability to enjoy the fruits of our labour.  Like other generations, most of us want to make a good living and own our own home someday.  We are not any more materialistic than generations that came before us.

With this in mind, the article moved on to acknowledge that while non-millennials may be skeptical, the truth is that Millennials don’t need older generations to get by, and that’s why we’re scared of them.

“Millennials don’t need us. That’s why we’re scared of them.”

Stein explains the unique world that North American Millennials are growing up in. He highlights our connectivity and empowerment as individuals in the information revolution. Millennials have been handed the technology to compete against huge organizations.

In the M-Factor, generational researchers Lancaster and Stillman explain that “while Xers saw independence as strength, millennials see collaboration as power” (2010). Our access to immediate and international publishing has enabled this generation to go beyond simply freedom of speech but a new configuration of customized media and news and more easily enable freedom of assembly. Now, thanks to social media and networking, groups are mobilizing through collective interests and have shown that together they can make a big impact.

“While Xers saw independence as strength, millennials see collaboration as power.”

Our research has tracked the power of Millennials to connect and organize. While the technology that we’ve been handed does contribute to our power when it comes to getting things done, Millennial leaders have also taken the reigns when it comes to creating technologies that give us our unique edge.

In some ways the author gets it, he stipulates that we are a leader-less generation.

“Their world is so flat that they have no leaders, which is why revolutions from Occupy Wall Street to Tahrir Square have seen even less chance than previous rebellions.”

But the important element here is not that we are leader-less, but that we all have the chance to contribute and work together as a group to get greater things accomplished than we could do on our own.

In  the end Stein condones our narcissism and connectivity accepting that one thing psychologists can agree on is that, “millennials are nice.”

He may rip us apart for our “mirror, mirror on the wall” attitudes and shameless self-promotion online, in a world where we all strive to become a ‘microcelebrity.”

But with this in mind, there is one key factor that Stein has left out in all of this. He neglects to include any real acknowledgement of the job market in which we’re operating in as we graduate. At a much higher unemployment rate, it is not surprise that Millennials in Canada and the US have high hopes, are boldly self-promoting and are still living with their parents.

Older generations may be scared of us, but we have real fear; unemployment, or worse, underemployment.  We self-promote and develop our own technologies to connect with our peers to get things done and to connect with CEOs of large corporations to complain to submit a resume. But we’d be foolish not to use all of the human and technology resources that we have access to as we leave school and move into a barren job market.

We know that Millennials think differently, communicate differently and have different life expectations than any other generation. Growing up with the Millennial generation we understand these differences first hand and as more and more of us enter the workforce, take on leadership roles in business and government and become a powerful force in the consumer market,  the generational divisions highlighted by TIME may bring greater conflict even in Canada.

It is our goal as researchers to understand these differences and to try and predict their effects. Our research not only seeks to understand millennial attitudes, but also strives to uncover impressions and misconceptions of our generation.

For more information about the Millennial generation check out the research available on our website, the Abacus Data Canadian Millennial Practice.

The Top 10 Rewards Programs in Canada – Loyalty Redefined by Canadian Retailers

This article is just Part 1 of my series titled “Loyalty Redefined by Canadian Retailers”. Look out for more insights about your favourite Canadian rewards programs in the coming weeks!

We all know that loyal Canadians just love their rewards programs! In fact, “the average Canadian household is a member of 8.2 loyalty programs, according to the soon-to-be-released 2013 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census.“  I also love loyalty programs, but of course only when they suit my specific needs because otherwise they’re just another piece of plastic taking up valuable space in my wallet.

While mobile loyalty is starting to become a reality in Canada, meaning  the days of filling my wallet with plastic cards will soon be a distant memory, I will still be particular about what programs I focus on using. Most Canadians, as well as myself, will become more and more particular about only using programs that are the easiest to understand and offer the most  relevant and timely collection and redemption options.Well, talking about such rewarding programs and schemes that are easiest to understand, I get reminded of this particular financial procedure called the cryptocurrency trading using the automated crypto robots available in the market that is not only easier to understand but also easier to access and gain profits, about which you can visit here to find out more!

I may be a “member” of countless loyalty or rewards programs, but there are only three that I keep in my wallet. Can you guess which ones they are?

As promised, here are the top Canadian rewards programs based on past 3 month active points/miles collection nationally:

  1. Airmiles
  2. Shoppers Optimum
  3. Canadian Tire Rewards/Money
  4. Aeroplan
  5. HBC Rewards/ Hudson’s Bay Rewards
  7. Scene
  8. Club Sobeys
  9. CAA
  10. PC Points/PC Plus

The team at Abacus Data decided to run this interesting question every 2 months to keep on top of the latest changes in rewards program usage in Canada. From March to May 2013, we can see an overall decline in collecting behaviour across almost every Canadian program. Seasonal shopping behaviours are likely playing the biggest role in this drop, but many programs focus a lot of their advertising dollars at the end of the year, so by May they have lost a lot of consumer momentum. This tracking data will start to show some very interesting insights when we can compare changes over 6 months with our late July poll.

Here are the results from our March and May 2013 online omnibus surveys (feel free share this!):

Abacus Data Canadian Rewards Programs March and May 2013
There were also some very big statistically significant differences between regions in Canada. Not surprisingly however, these differences have a lot to do with where retailers with rewards programs are located across the country.

Here are the top 10 Canadian rewards programs by region as of May 2013:

  • British Columbia
  • Alberta
  • Manitoba / Saskatchewan
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Atlantic Canada
  1. Airmiles
  2. Shoppers Optimum
  3. Canadian Tire Rewards/Money
  4. Aeroplan
  5. HBC Rewards/ Hudson’s Bay Rewards
  7. Plum Rewards
  8. Esso Extra
  9. PC Points/PC Plus
  10. Sears Card
  1. Airmiles
  2. Shoppers Optimum
  3. More Rewards/Save-on-More
  4. HBC Rewards/ Hudson’s Bay Rewards
  5. Canadian Tire Rewards/Money
  6. Aeroplan
  7. Scene
  9. RBC Rewards/Avion
  10. Plum Rewards
  1. Airmiles
  2. Shoppers Optimum
  3. Club Sobeys
  4. Aeroplan
  5. Canadian Tire Rewards/Money
  6. HBC Rewards/ Hudson’s Bay Rewards
  8. Scene
  9. CAA
  10. Plum Rewards
  1. Airmiles
  2. Shoppers Optimum
  3. Club Sobeys
  4. Canadian Tire Rewards/Money
  5. HBC Rewards/ Hudson’s Bay Rewards
  6. Aeroplan
  7. Scene
  8. CAA
  9. Plum Rewards
  1. Airmiles
  2. Shoppers Optimum
  3. Canadian Tire Rewards/Money
  4. HBC Rewards/ Hudson’s Bay Rewards
  6. Aeroplan
  7. Club Sobeys
  8. Scene
  9. PC Points/PC Plus
  10. Plum Rewards
  1. Airmiles
  2. metro&moi
  4. Canadian Tire Rewards/Money
  5. CAA
  6. Aeroplan
  7. Desjardins BONUSDOLLARS
  8. Shoppers Optimum
  9. Sears Card
  10. HBC Rewards/ Hudson’s Bay Rewards
  1. Airmiles
  2. Shoppers Optimum
  3. Canadian Tire Rewards/Money
  4. Aeroplan
  5. HBC Rewards/ Hudson’s Bay Rewards
  7. Plum Rewards
  8. Esso Extra
  9. PC Points/PC Plus
  10. Sears Card
  1. Airmiles
  2. Shoppers Optimum
  3. More Rewards/Save-on-More
  4. HBC Rewards/ Hudson’s Bay Rewards
  5. Canadian Tire Rewards/Money
  6. Aeroplan
  7. Scene
  9. RBC Rewards/Avion
  10. Plum Rewards

I can’t even begin to explain my love-hate relationship with rewards programs, or brand loyalty initiatives in general, but  I am glad that brands have decided to give back to consumers through win-win rewards programs.

To all of the brands out there, keep helping Canadians save time and money and don’t forget to make us feel special too!

The Road to 2015: Rebuilding the Conservative Majority Coalition

The federal Conservative Party has faced an unquestionably difficult spring. Multiple ethics and spending controversies, a mini backbench revolt, slow economic growth, and the emergence of a dynamic and youthful Justin Trudeau as Liberal leader has the Tories now in second place in vote intention. Abacus Data’s most recent ballot measure has the Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP statistically tied with the Liberal Party at 29%, the Conservatives at 27%, and the NDP at 26%. This is the first time in our tracking (since November 2011) that the Conservatives are not in first place.

Today’s Cabinet shuffle is one attempt by the Harper Government to hit the reset button and present Canadians with the leadership team that will lead the Tories into the 2015 federal election.

In this paper, my objectives are to assess how Canadians judge the performance of the federal government overall and in certain key policy areas and to look at the segments within the electorate that the Tories need to bring together to replicate its successful coalition that allowed it to win a majority in 2011.

These insights are valuable as you consider how to present your priorities and agenda to a re-worked Harper Government as it sets its sights on re-election in 2015.

The Big Picture

Overall, the job approval of the Harper government is down six points since March to 31%. This is the lowest approval score since Abacus Data started tracking the government’s approval rating in November 2011. On specific policy areas, Canadians by and large do not distinguish between policy files except for accountability where only 20% of respondents either strongly or somewhat approved of the Harper government’s handling of the issue.

Harper Government Approval

Overall, just less than one third of Canadians (31%) said they either strongly or somewhat approved of the job that the federal government was doing. Fifty percent of Canadians surveyed in June either strongly or somewhat disapproved of the federal government’s performance while 20% said they neither approved nor disapproved.

Among those who voted for the Conservative Party in the last federal election, May 2011 – a slight majority (54%) said that they somewhat or strongly approved of the federal government’s job performance while 19% disapproved. Another 27% who voted Conservative in the last election neither approved nor disapproved.

With almost half of previous Conservative voters saying they either disapprove of the government’s performance or are neutral towards its performance is troublesome for the federal government and indicative of a need to revamp its agenda as it heads towards the 2015 election.

Q: Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the job the federal government led by Stephen Harper is doing?
(Source: Abacus Data, June 2013, n=999)

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But which policy areas is the government strongest and weakest and what does that mean for the coming Cabinet shuffle?

Among all respondents, the Conservative government is perceived to be doing better (or lower disapproval ratings) in its handling of international trade (35% approve vs. 28% disapprove) and crime reduction (33% approve vs. 32% disapprove). Over a third of respondents said they neither approve nor disapprove of the government’s performance in these areas.

Respondents are more divided in the government’s handling of keeping taxes low (31% approve vs. 41% disapprove), economic management (32% approve vs. 40% disapprove), and job creation (33% approve vs. 39% disapprove).

The Harper government is weakest on health care and accountability in government. While 32% approve of the government’s performance on the health care file, 45% disapprove. Worse, only 20% of Canadians approve of its handling of accountability in government while 58% disapprove.

It is also clear that very few Canadians who disapprove of the government in general give it credit for progress in any specific policy areas. There is a strong relationship between disapproving with the overall performance of the government and evaluations of its performance on specific policy areas.

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job the federal government is doing in the following areas?
(Source: Abacus Data, June 2013, n=999)

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2011 Conservative Voters – Approval of Government Performance

When we compare the approval among all eligible voters to that of those who voted for Conservative Party in 2011 there are some differences in the overall approval of the government.

Those who voted for the Conservative Party in 2011 are much more likely to approve of the job the government is doing on all issues. However, with about 40% of past Conservative Party supporters not approving of the government’s performance in specific policy areas, it is clear why support for the federal Conservative Party is down significantly in the past few months.

Q: Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the job the federal government led by Stephen Harper is doing?
(Source: Abacus Data, June 2013, n=999)

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Among Conservative voters in 2011, a majority approve of the Harper government’s performance in international trade, crime reduction, health care, economic management, and job creation. However, less than a majority approve of its performance in keeping federal taxes low and on government accountability.

Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the job the federal government is doing in the following areas?
(Source: Abacus Data, June 2013, n=999)

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Incumbent governments need to retain its past supporters by delivering what it promised at the time these voters supported them. With shaky economic news, higher than average unemployment, and significant ethical lapses, the government’s reputation among its supporters is tenuous at best.

A shuffling of the federal Cabinet provides the government an opportunity to reset and present a new team of ministers to tackle some of the issues facing the country. But a new team won’t be enough. The Harper government needs to find a way to rekindle its relationship with its supporters and give them a reason to vote for them again in 2015.

The Conservative government has found success in the past when it delivered for its supporters. Masters of “transactional” politics, the early years of the Harper Government were about delivering for its core target markets: GST cuts, childcare benefit, tough crime and justice measures, tax credits for transit and sports, and investments in infrastructure.

But since winning a majority in 2011, it has delivered very little to most of its supporters.

While scrapping the long-gun registry and ending the Wheat Board’s monopoly on selling Western Canadian grain delivered to its mainly rural and small-c conservative base (its core supporters), middle class, suburban voters has been largely ignored since 2011. Transactional politics requires constant attention and delivery to your consumer (voters).

These voters, middle aged and women, living in the suburban regions around Vancouver and Toronto, should be the focus for the government as its outlines its agenda for the next two years. Without their support, the Conservative majority will disappear in 2015.

But if you’re the federal Conservative Party, how might you divide the electorate and build an agenda to retain and mobilize your base while bringing home those voters who may have voted Conservative in 2011 but are now either undecided or thinking of voting for an alternative?

In the next section we segment the political market from the Conservative Party’s perspective. The Cabinet shuffle and its coming agenda will likely try to appeal to these groups.

Understanding and demonstrating how your agenda aligns with these groups should be a critical part of your GR strategy going forward.

Federal Conservative Voter Segment Profiles

A Note on Methodology

Using data collected from our national surveys from March to June, 2013, we segmented the Canadian population into five groups based on the previous voting behaviour and current federal vote intentions. The analysis is based on interviews with 7,124 Canadians conducted online with representative panels. The data set was weighted by age, gender, education, region, and month due to differences in sample size across the four surveys. The data is not meant to represent current public opinion but to illustrate the relationship between variables. The large data also allows us to drill down and better understand smaller, but important segments of the electorate not possible in a survey of 1,000 respondents.

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Road to 2015: Simple Mathematics

The way back for the federal Conservatives to get into majority government territory (around 40%) is a matter of simple mathematics. Let’s remove the 11% of our sample who are “Disengaged”.

If the Conservative Party is successful at rebuilding their coalition and mobilizing them to vote, it can get close again to the magic 40% number:

Loyalists (24%) + Newcomers (4%) + Punctures (4%) + Switchers (5%) = 37%

The Conservative base of support is about 24% of the electorate. They can likely count on these generally older, more male, suburban and rural voters. They are enthusiastic about the government and almost all of them approve of the job the government is doing and most think the country is generally headed in the right direction.

Add the Newcomers (4%), new voters who are younger and more likely to be new Canadians, support the Conservative agenda and most approve of the government’s agenda. These two groups are the easiest conversions for the Tories and gets them to 28% – about where they currently are polling in most public polls released recently.

Getting to 37% by adding the Punctures and Switchers is a bit more difficult.

Punctures (4%) haven’t completely abandoned the Tories for another party but are disappointed in the Harper Government’s policies. They are more likely to be either pre-retiree or retired women, living in suburban communities. They voted Conservative in the past but the Conservatives need to deliver something to them and demonstrate why Conservative policies are in their self-interest and the interests of their families.

Finally, Switchers (5%) are quite disappointed in the Harper Government. Forty-five percent (45%) think the country is heading in the wrong direction and only 34% approve of the government’s job performance. As this group is primarily middle-aged men living in urban and suburban communities, pocketbook issues, leadership, and competence are appeal themes to this group.

A majority of Switchers (58%) say they would vote Liberal if an election was held at the time of the survey with another 29% voting NDP and 11% voting Green. These voters are pro-business but feel let down by Tory ethics issues and the underperformance of the economy. Questioning Justin Trudeau’s experience and competence to be Prime Minister may loosen these voters but the Conservative Party needs to offer them something to come back into the Conservative tent.

How does your agenda align with these voters?

Government relations and advocacy is increasingly about mobilizing supporters and demonstrating to government stakeholders that your issues and “asks” align with the concerns and priorities of key voter groups.

“All Canadians” are not important in the new world of political marketing where relationship management, transactional politics, and delivery trump what used to be considered “good public policy”.

For many government stakeholders, both at the federal and provincial levels, good public policy is policy that meets the needs of target voter segments.

Data, whether in the form of membership attitudes and priorities or public opinion research, is the new currency in Ottawa. Because of Access to Information requests or requirements of public disclosure of all Government of Canada public opinion research, government is doing less strategic public opinion research. Along with informing your own strategy, you can provide valuable, independent data to government. Strategically designed and segmented analysis demonstrates you understand their political priorities.

Next time you are thinking about how to convince government to support your agenda, ask yourself, what do the “punctures” think of our policy recommendations or how will “switchers” react to a proposal policy change? Answering these questions will focus your GR strategy and provide you insights to share with government stakeholders as they all focus on the road to the 2015 General Election.