In starting new projects at Yonge & Bloor, then in Ajax, I’ve been known for focusing a lot of time and effort on detailed demographic research. Nothing has been more valuable than the marketing studies I’ve conducted with Environics Analytics. Twice they’ve provided me with critical insights that have helped me connect with people in new and creative ways.
Their studies begin by identifying a geographic area of interest, and describing the proportions that fit into each of their PRIZM “lifestyle types” or segments and where on a map they are most concentrated. The basic demographics are already there for each segment – career types, age, home ownership, language, etc. But then, the magic starts. Once I’ve selected the segments I’m really hoping to understand, they drill down into the data to try and answer the questions I’m asking, like:
- What stress are they under?
- How do they connect and communicate?
- Do they own a smartphone?
- What do they read and do in their spare time?
- Are they open to new experiences?
Each time, I found my presuppositions about people challenged, and would find myself freed to start forming new and surprising ideas for engaging with people’s actual needs.
This is why I was thrilled to read this week that Environics has updated its PRIZM categories to reflect Canada’s changing demographics. This Macleans article describe the changes, and reasons for them. The segments I was assigning for use in workshops were from 2008, and starting to show their age. From their website:
With the population increasingly fragmented, PRIZM5 captures important changes in Canadian demographics, lifestyles, behaviour and values. The 68 segments reflect the increasing variety in how Canadians live today. Among the emerging lifestyles are segments that highlight the movement of Canadians to urban centres (Urban Digerati, Striving Startups), an aging population (Second City Retirees, Aging in Suburbia) and increasing cultural diversity (New World Symphony, Metro Multiculturals). The new edition of PRIZM features 16 predominantly francophone segments, another 16 with large numbers of immigrants, visible minorities or members who speak a non-official language at home and one—Enclave Multiethniques—with a significant presence of francophones and diverse groups. – Source
For those who’d like to learn about their community without spending on a full marketing study, Environics now provides a tool that reveals the demographic segment most associated with a single postal code. This is a perfect way for locally focused non-profits, church planters and others to get some free insights into their communities. For example, the neighbourhood around Romeo Dallaire School in Ajax is Pets & PCs, “younger families in the new suburbs surrounding larger cities” which sounds about right!