Forget about ‘the Great White North’—Canadian companies need to start recognizing shifts in demographics that are turning us into a country where the majority live in cities and suburbs and wealth is concentrated among the elderly, the CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs warns.
Speaking at the Top Broker Summit in Toronto earlier this month, Darrell Bricker showed a series of statistics that suggested agencies and marketers who relentlessly pursue young, millennial consumers may be missing other opportunities.
For example, while there are currently about 7,900 people over 100 years of age in Canada today, that number will climb to 78,000 by 2061. The average lifespan in Canada, meanwhile, will climb to 87 years by 2036 (up from 57 in the 1920s).
“We’ve added 30 years to the average life,” said Bricker, who recently co-authored the book Canuckology: From Dollars To Donuts. He said much of the high income and spending is coming from this more senior group, and that organizations should be catering to these older, wealthier people. “Maybe (in restaurants) you could just turn down the music.”
The longer lifespan is being coupled with a decline in the national birth rate, which currently sits at 1.6. You need a birth rate of more than two for populations to continue growing and be sustainable, Bricker said.
“What we’ve seen is that when fertility rates fall, they never come back. It becomes a sociological norm,” said Bricker, who credited the change almost entirely to the increased education and participation of women in the workforce. “The pill and easier access to divorce were just means to an end. The only thing we have’t been able to change is menopause.”
It’s also less of a homogenous white country where the population resides in rural areas. And while bilingualism is on the rise, it’s most prominent in areas like Alberta, where arriving Francophones are trying to learn English. Bricked said 91% of foreign-born citizens live in an urban area, and in general more than 80% of the population lives in a city, town or nearby suburb.
“Canada is becoming a car-commuting, suburban nation,” he said. “All those people on their bikes today? That’s going to be like riding a unicorn to work.”
If nothing else, Canadian companies must open their eyes to the fact that the “well-derly,” as Bricker called them, deserve more attention then their younger counterpart.
“The thinking is you go after the millennials because they’re always going out,” he said. “Yeah, they’re going out, but when they’re going out they don’t necessarily have that much money to spend.”