• Toronto neighbourhoods, as defined by Prizm (Map: courtesy of Environics Analytics)

Downtown Toronto has a cluster of urban digerati, with pockets of single city jazz, Asian new wave and Asian avenues. Further from the core, there’s boomerang city, South Asian society, emptying nests and more.

Those categories are according to “segmentation” profiles, released last week by marketing and analytical company Environics Analytics, classifying each Canadian postal code as one of 68 lifestyle segments, complete with information about lifestyle, income, demographics and more.

Look up your postal code here.

More than 200 clients, including businesses and not-for-profit groups, use the Environics system to target their marketing and products, said Danny Heuman, vice president of custom research at Environics. The information informs companies about where to send flyers, for example, or even open their next store.

“Really, all of this is done in an effort to help the consumer. As much as they might feel like ‘Woah you know a lot about me,’ really I know nothing about you,” Heuman said. “I know about your neighbourhood. I know about the people that are like you and in many cases it may describe you and in many cases it won’t describe you personally but it will describe the neighbour to your left and the neighbour to your right.”

The company spent almost a year creating its third generation of profiles and assigning them to Canada’s postal codes. Environics began with information from the 2011 census and National Household Survey, Heuman said, and then added information including aggregated and anonymous credit ratings, car registration data and social values survey results.

Ethnicities are examined, including through an analysis of first and last names in phone books, he said. That’s so the company can gather more information about languages, for example. “Local papers and local TV and radio advertise to certain populations,” Heuman said. “So we do need to have an understanding of the ethnic makeup of Canada.”

Environics has noticed shifts in the Canadian population since previous versions of “PRIZM,” as the company refers to their system, which were based on the 2001 and 2006 censuses.

Among the changes are an increasing number of older families staying in suburban areas instead of downsizing, Heuman said. As well, older children are moving back in with their parents after moving out or attending university, Heuman said, adding that new segment has been dubbed boomerang city.

“The data really do tell us a lot,” Heuman said.

Here are the definitions of three sample segments:

Street Scenes
Located on the fringes of the downtown core, Street Scenes attracts younger singles and families to well-kept streets with their aging houses, duplexes and semi-detached houses. Many residents are well educated, with white-collar jobs, above-average incomes and active leisure lives. In the marketplace, they open their wallets for music, books, fashion and consumer electronics. Living close to city entertainment districts, they have high rates for going to bars, nightclubs, art galleries and music and film festivals. Progressive in their outlook, they support the Pursuit of Originality—which they exercise by acquiring the latest in fashion, food and wine.

South Asian Achievers
Reflecting the increasing diversity of Canada’s visible minority population, South Asian Achievers has emerged as a fast-growing segment of family-filled households in new suburban subdivisions. These middle-aged, relatively recent immigrants—two-thirds are foreign-born—are characterized by mixed educations, upper-middle incomes and child-centred lifestyles. In neighbourhoods filled with singles, semis and row houses, active families enjoy outdoor sports and visits to theme parks, health clubs and auto shows. Still making their way in Canadian popular culture, these residents have a high rate forgoing to a university with plans for bettering their lives.

Vieille École (Old School)
The communities that make up Vieille École are found mostly in middle-income, exurban towns across Quebec. In this segment, households can be middle-aged or older, married or common-law, couples or families. With most maintainers between 55 and 74, Vieille École lifestyles are more sedentary than athletic. Residents spend their free time going to chicken restaurants, billiard parlours and dinner theatres. Living close to nature, they like outdoor sports such as cross-country skiing, ice skating, hockey and cycling. But on Saturday night, they’re happy just to have a drink—or several—with friends at a bar or comedy club.