Canadians are generally known worldwide for their good manners, diplomacy, and peacefulness – perhaps because they (healthily?) channel all their aggression towards their national sport: hockey. Hockey is known to be Canada’s “only national drama” – one that both unifies and divides the nation.
The fan bases of each of the seven Canadian NHL teams are alike in their renowned enthusiasm and loyalty, but distinct in their reputations – which are widely perpetuated by the media. How accurate are these stereotypes? Exponential Interactive investigated by checking how well some of the most common fan stereotypes aligned with our data, which includes the online behavior of over 200,000 Canadian hockey fans.
Want a sneak peak into what your favorite NHL team says about you? Go to our fan profile tool.
Montreal Canadiens (yes, with an ‘e’) Fans: Fierce Francophiles? The Habs have a reputation for holding their team and others to high standards, and they’re not shy about vocalizing their criticisms! They’re considered to be among the loudest and rowdiest NHL fans around – young rioters have hurt their image in recent years. They’re also known for their French-Canadian pride and habits, which fuel their longstanding rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Our data confirmed that the Canadiens fans love all things French. Compared to their hockey-loving counterparts, they showed 77% more interest in traveling to France, 150% more interest in the French language, and nearly four times more interest in French soccer leagues. And, like the French, they have sophisticated tastes. They showed more interest in fine dining on average, especially for steak and seafood restaurants. They’re also the only fans that showed more interest in wine than beer, with 60% more interest than average.
Vancouver Canucks Fans: Rowdy Rioters? Canucks fans are infamous for taking their team seriously, even getting rowdy at times. But, does this hold up outside of game day?
Our data indicates that the Canucks fans are indeed more into action than other Canadian hockey fans. They’re 47% more likely to be into fighting video games, and 29% more into action movies. They also enjoy real world fighting – they’re 76% more likely to be into martial arts, boxing, and wrestling, and they’re more likely to be seeking divorce, counseling, and criminal legal services.
On a happier note, some Canucks fans appear to be spending their extra energy by exploring the great outdoors; kayaking, boating, cycling, fishing, gardening, field sports and motorcycles are all more popular with this group. On par with BC’s progressive reputation, they’re also 21% more into green living and 38% more into healthy living than average Canadian hockey fans.
Toronto Maple Leafs Fans: Arrogant Anglophiles? Devoted Leafs fans are known for being boastful – despite the fact that the team has not won a championship since 1967. Along with their rivalry with Montreal (which is rooted in relations between English and French speaking Canadians), they’ve been embroiled in the “Battle of Ontario” against the Ottawa Senators since before the NHL existed. Sadly for the Sens, the Leafs fans are known for flooding their arena regularly– so much so that the Sens have practically begged their season ticket holders not to sell tickets to Leafs!
Our data doesn’t include arrogance levels (yet!), but we did find evidence that the Leafs fans take their rivalries seriously. Bombarding the Senator stadium seems to be a priority – they’re nine times more likely to be researching travel to Ottawa. In contrast, Sens fans showed greater inclinations to travel to exotic places. Perhaps they’re fleeing the Leafs invasion?
Ottawa Senators Fans: Stern Statesmen? Despite their loyalty and enthusiasm, Sens fans are known for being relatively timid in their response to Leafs fans’ frequent takeovers of their stadium, which aligns with the general stereotype of Ottawaians as being more reserved, orderly, and devoted to public service.
Judging from our data, it seems “the city that fun forgot” should be re-nicknamed “the city of love”– their team’s fans are nine times more likely to be interested in romance movies, and 30% more likely than average to frequent online dating sites (surprisingly, Montreal’s fans were much less interested in both).
And contrary to Ottawa’s “coma city” stereotype, Sens fans are an active bunch; more so than other teams, they’re searching for nightlife and dining options, as well as tickets for all types of events like theater and concerts. Could this be because Leafs fans have taken over their hockey stadium? I guess we’ll never know. True to their name, however, the Sens do seem more committed to public service, with greater than average levels of working in the government, non-profit, and legal industries.
Calgary Flames Fans: Over-Confident Cowboys? Flames fans are known for their energetic support, but also carry their province’s stereotype of being filled with wild, wild west adventurous types. One of their key rivalries is their historic “Battle for Alberta” against the Edmonton Oilers.
Our data shows that they are 74% more likely to look up country lyrics, 40% more into fast-food, and 38% more into beer than the average hockey fanatic – but they also show signs of being more progressive and cosmopolitan than their city’s reputation suggests, with strong interests in business, finance, and management. As for the Battle for Alberta, despite both teams’ struggles in the past few years, it seems to be going strong: there were fewer fans of both teams than any other Canadian pairing.
Edmonton Oilers Fans: Humble and Ho-Hum? Despite the fact that their city has the fewest high-income residents of all Canadian cities with teams and years of not making the playoffs, the Oilers are among the NHL’s top revenue generators, thanks to its faithful fan base. Like rival Calgary, Edmonton has a reputation for being conservative, Western, and unpretentious. Some also consider it lackluster, hence the nickname “Deadmonton”.
Our data showed that, as their city’s unpretentious image would predict, Oilers fans are less concerned with their appearance than other teams’ fans – with lower than average interest in dieting, shopping for apparel, and cosmetics. Their food tastes are less exotic (pizza and steak are favorites). For entertainment, Oilers supporters show greater interest in home-based activities, like watching family movies, football, and playing video games. They’re also seven times more likely to be in market for pick-up trucks!
Marketing Implications: The insights derived from our data aren’t merely entertaining to read about. They have powerful potential to enable transformations in marketing strategy, media planning/buying, and creative strategy and messaging. Our data is especially valuable because it is based on statistically significant online behaviors, rather than just clicks and conversions. This enables advertisers to make smarter, better-informed marketing decisions.
This post was also highlighted in Globe and Mail.
Cassandra Mcintosh is a Senior Analyst in Insights Services at Exponential based in New York. She is passionate about converting data into actionable insights that guide companies' digital marketing strategies. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Business from Northwestern University.
This is the blog of Exponential Interactive Inc.,(www.exponential.com) a global provider of advertising intelligence and digital media solutions to brand advertisers.
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