How we live now: By the numbers


According to Environics Analytics, my wife and I, both at the well-seasoned age of 54, are “striving startups”, by which the self-described “premier marketing services company” in Canada means that we belong to that cohort of citizens who are “younger, urban, lower-middle-income singles and families.”

Who knew?

I mean, I imagined I was getting my hipster groove on a couple of years ago, when I dropped a few pounds and started hanging around The Gap, snooping for 80-per-cent-off sales. But a full-on “striving startup”. I’m. . .well, flattered, I guess.

It’s a better demographic designation than this, perhaps: “The Cosmopolitan Elite” enjoy an average, annual household income of $469,882. They own their homes. Period. They all boast university educations. They are “white collar” (whatever that means these days). They are overwhelmingly, ethnically waspish. And their “sample social value” is “emotional control”.

As a white guy, born in Toronto, raised both there and in the “Little Toronto” proving grounds of southend Halifax, I should, by all rights, claim membership among “The Cosmopolitan Elite”. Instead, though, as a striver at the tail-end of the mid-point in  my productive career, I’m told I’m more like this cultural animal:

“Situated in once-thriving downtown districts, the duplexes and low-rise apartments of Striving Startups no longer anchor new and expanding neighbourhoods. Yet, these urban communities attract a mix of predominantly young singles and their families and single-parent families for their affordable rentals near in-town amenities.”

Do tell. “Despite modest incomes from jobs in sales and services, these households have active social lives, with high rates of going to bars, nightclubs and movies. Many like to exercise outside, running marathons and ice skating. Describing themselves as discriminating consumers, they follow the latest trends at auto, outdoors and health and living shows. And many have aspirations to improve their lot, with a disproportionate number going to career colleges, community colleges and management training courses.”

How a “disproportionate number” entering professional skills development courses becomes the X-Factor in broader, social engagement depends entirely on what you think should be a “proportionate number”. I any case, none of these metrics apply to me or my wife of coming-on 35 years together.

Here’s how we spend our time: Working, talking to our children, talking to our grandchildren, working, shoveling snow, woking, sneezing and coughing, talking to our children, talking to our grandchildren, walking, coughing, sneezing, shoveling snow, dozing, snoozing, sleeping, and, of course, shoveling snow.

So, then, what are we to make of Environics Analytics and its clever boys and girls who get paid for getting everything about Canada’s citizens so exquisitely, simplistically wrong?

Here’s what Joe Friesen of The Globe and Mail had to say last week about the firm’s proprietary propensity for pigeon-holing 37-million people for fun and profit:

“The labels may sound glib, but together they form a segmentation system that functions like a demographic decoder ring for Canadian neighbourhoods. [Environics]  takes each of the roughly 750,000 six-digit postal codes in Canada, assesses the households by age, ethnicity, education and net worth, and then assigns the postcode (usually just two blocks of one side of a city street) one of 68 demographic profiles. These 68 profiles form a snapshot of the way the Canadian population, in aggregate, sorts itself geographically.”

As proud members of demographic profile No. 52, my wife and I will be more than happy to wear that designation until we move to the country, where working postal codes in the last federal budget went extinct.

Much like, I expect, our good, aging, hipster selves did about four grandchildren ago.

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