On the MiC: What marketers should make of the new Census

There's plenty of food for thought in the data released yesterday, according to a leading demographer.

Doug Norris, SVP/chief demographer for Toronto-based Environics Analytics, believes there’s a lot to chew on in the data released yesterday.

What are the major implications for marketers in the 2006 Canadian Census?

‘The main dimensions of change that are important for marketers to pay attention to, revolve around the distribution of population growth, which is now heavily driven by immigration. Growth is occurring in areas that attract the most immigration – Toronto and Vancouver and, of course, Alberta.

Secondly, there’s the aging of our population. And thirdly, there’s new information on family structures and the diversity of household make-up, including same-sex couples’ (reported for the first time in a Canadian Census).’

Which industries’ sectors will be most affected by the new data?

‘In a nutshell, all sectors are going to see changes, depending on the market they focus on. The housing industry is a prime example. Many boomers, probably half a million or so per year, will turn 60. As they hit retirement age, they’ll be making decisions about whether to stay in the family home, downsize to a condo or move to some type of adult community.

There are a lot of marketing implications in that reality for the housing and shelter industries, and even the packaged goods industry. Families are now smaller. In fact, only a little over a quarter of all households have children at home, and there are many single-person households. So package sizing, for example, should likely be re-thought. And looking at the ethnic diversity in our cities, there are implications for the types of foods and products people will be attracted to.’

How best should a wise marketer and its agency use the new information?

‘To me, the message is that the structure of the Canadian population is changing in ways we’ve never seen before. We’re a much older society, with many fewer mom, pop and children households. Marketers really need to pay attention to that.

And they need to look not only at the macro trends we’ve been discussing here, but at their local markets, because they’re all so different from each other. Some are still growing rapidly, such as the 905 area around Toronto, while other areas, such as smaller towns and rural areas, are in decline. So they all have much different profiles in terms of age, cultural diversity and family profile.’

Bottom line?

‘Marketers need to keep up to date with how the communities they operate in and the markets they’re targeting are changing. There’s probably a need for new messaging to different kinds of markets, with the boomers being the major example. They are clearly going to be a dominant force in many industries over the next decade or two.’

Doug Norris will be hosting a WebEx Seminar to more completely discuss his insights into the 2006 Canadian Census on September 19th, 2007 at 1pm ET.