More Canadian Millennials Serving as Designated Drivers; Doing so More Often

Survey Shows Social Media can Help Moderate Alcohol Consumption; Apps Make Planning Safe Ride Home Easier for Many

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  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, Ontario, September 13, 2017 — Eight in ten (82%) Millennials of legal drinking age and who have a driver’s license have served as a designated driver (DD) at some point over the last three years, being the most likely of all age cohorts to do so, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Beer Canada. By comparison, 67% of Gen X’ers (aged 35-54) and 55% of Boomers (aged 55+) have served as a DD in the past three years.

When compared to research conducted among Millennials by Ipsos and Labatt in 2013, more Millennials (82%) are now serving as DDs in the past three years (up 4 points), while fewer (18%, down 4 points) are never serving as a DD. Moreover, the number of times they’ve done so has increased from 19 times in the three years leading up to 2013 to 26 times in the three years leading up to this year’s survey.

Nearly all (97%) Canadian drivers polled say they personally take the role of being a designated driver seriously, and this holds true even for Millennials (95%, up 3 points since 2014). Given that most (94%) believe that if it weren’t for designated drivers there would be a lot more car accidents and fatalities in their community, it’s understandable that a similar proportion (94%) of Canadians believe that communities need more designated drivers. In fact, just 16% of Canadian drivers agree that they would never serve as a DD because they prefer to party with their friends. Although this proportion rises to 26% among Millennials, it is a decline of 3 points since a similar poll of Millennials conducted in 2014.

Given the role that designated drivers play in communities, half (51%) of Canadians acknowledge that designated drivers don’t get enough credit for the service they perform – a view that is consistent across generations.

Social Media has an Impact on Alcohol Consumption
On balance, Canadians say that the existence of smartphones and social media causes them to consume less alcohol as a result, largely to prevent examples of themselves being inappropriately intoxicated from being exposed on social media. In fact, only one in five (18%) Canadians, and one in three (34%) Millennials, say they’re more likely to use social media when they’ve been drinking. Three in ten (29%) Millennials admit that social media makes them do things they regret when they’ve been drinking, which likely explains why many are staying clear of mixing the two.

Two in ten Canadians overall, and Millennials specifically, (22%) say they drink less because they don’t want any embarrassing photos of themselves to end up on social media as a result of not consuming in moderation. Just 3% of Canadians say they drink more because it’s fun for them to post photos of themselves and their friends having a good time while drinking (8% of Millennials).

Looking at some specific examples that have an impact on alcohol consumption:

  • Two in ten (21%) say that seeing or hearing examples of people losing their jobs because of inappropriate or offensive social media posts has caused them to drink less as a result.
  •  Two in ten (21%) also say that seeing pictures of their friends or other people on social media who have been drinking heavily causes them to drink less as a result.
  • Nineteen percent (19%) say that their friends’ or the public’s ability to capture pictures of themselves while they’re out drinking causes them to drink less as a result.

As an example of potentially embarrassing behaviour, two in ten (18%) Canadians, including four in ten (41%) millennials, admit to having “drunk texted”. One quarter (25%) of Millennials admit to being repeat offenders!  Among those who have drunk texted, 66% regret doing so, including 68% of Millennials who regret the embarrassing behaviour.

Social media reputation appears to be so important to some that, when they’re out drinking with friends, four in ten (40%) say they’re ‘concerned’ (21% very/19% somewhat) about the potential of ‘being shamed on social media because of something inappropriate they did as a result of drinking too much’, rising to 51% among Millennials (23% very/28% somewhat). However, more Canadians (63%) are concerned about the potential legal consequences of overconsuming alcohol than ‘being shamed on social media’ (40%). This also holds true for Millennials – 64% are concerned about legal consequences vs. 51% about ‘shaming’, as well as those who admit to having drunk texted on multiple occasions – 69% are concerned about legal consequences vs. 56% about ‘shaming’.

Social Media, Apps, and Planning to Get Home Safely
The data reveal that eight in ten (79%) Canadians (including 78% of Millennials) agree they always plan ahead of time how they’re going to get home before going out and drinking. In fact, one quarter (25%) of Canadians say that social media helps them stay safe when they’ve been drinking, the proportion of which rises to 40% among Millennials. Similarly, one quarter (25%) of Canadians say that social media helps them to plan ahead before they’ve been drinking, nearly doubling (45%) among Millennials.  More specifically:

  • 27% say the existence of these apps makes them more likely to plan how they’re going to get home after a night of drinking because it makes it easier to plan ahead. This rises to 37% among Millennials.  Just 9% of Canadians say the existence of these apps makes them less likely to plan because they can use these apps to figure it out later while they’re out. While this rises to 15% among Millennials, still more (37%) Millennials plan ahead.
  • A majority (55%) of Millennials have used apps to get home safely when they’ve been drinking, compared to just 29% of Gen X’ers, and 17% of Baby Boomers.
  • A majority (55%) says they’re less likely to drink and drink because they would never want that information to get out on social media, including 63% of Millennials.


Social media can also have the effect of encouraging people to join the party: one in four (24%) say that when they see their friends on social media having fun while drinking, they’re more likely to want to join them, nearly doubling among Millennials (46%). But it can also have the effect of helping people to organize themselves safely, with 25% (41% among Millennials) saying that when invited to an event of Facebook, they then use social media to help organize how they’ll get home.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 14 and 21, 2017, on behalf of Beer Canada. For this survey, a sample of 2,404 Canadians who are legal drinking age and have a valid drivers’ license was drawn from Ipsos' online panel and interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Tracking for the Millennial cohort has been included back to a similar study conducted in 2013.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Sean Simpson, Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2002
[email protected]

About Ipsos
Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.
With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media, customer loyalty, marketing, public affairs research, and survey management.
Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.
Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,669.5 ($2,218.4 million) in 2014.

The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs