Defining your Local Market

Analyzing Demographics & Psychographics

Understanding exactly who lives in your neighbourhood and what their interests are allows you to tailor your offerings to that market. Without that information you’re designing menus and stocking products in the hope your neighbours will like them. Think about the power of knowing ethnicities, gender, age, education level, marital status, and other aspects of your local market. These demographics define your neighbourhood. 

Take it a step further and analyze psychographics: personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. With this information you will know who the buyer is, and why they buy. The combined set of data helps you start to form your buyer’s persona.

Statistics Canada’s Data

Paul Rickett, the manager of Bowen Beer and Wine Cellar (ABLE BC’s Liquor Retailer of the Year 2016) on Bowen Island, is aware of demographics and psychographics as marketing tools. He notes that a free source for demographic information is through Statistics Canada’s website. Rickett likes Statistics Canada for the age demographics as well as the consumption reports, which might give some insight on habits. He notes, “You could pick up the census report from any municipality from their website.” He likes a report called Per capita sales of alcoholic beverages by liquor authorities and other retail outlets, by value, volume, and absolute volume, as he says this one is useful for estimating market potential based on population, as you can set it to pick up different categories of product.

The size and style of fonts on signs should be appropriate to the audience.

At the Berezan Hospitality Group, a family-owned company that owns and operates a chain of liquor stores, lounge, ski resort, casino and a line of spirits, among other business dealings, demographics definitely come into play. Like Rickett, Berezan’s president Troy Bilodeau also uses Statistics Canada information, as it gets released year-to-year for his casinos and retail locations and, according to him, “is a very good source for demographic information.”

“It is not everything,” Bilodeau says, “but it helps with developing a baseline for marketing and advertising initiatives. The typical demographics provide us with understanding toward the products or services we should offer, and how we would best advertise in those markets.”

Canada Post’s Insights

Aside from the free information available, Rickett has done his own research. He has tracked postal codes at the point of sale. “Take a limited sample and see what you learn,” he suggests. “Is there a pattern? Do many people come from the same area? Try to draw a radius from your store and make a circle on a map based on where the postal codes are. See how many people are in your area. Then, see if you can learn who is in that circle,” he continues. “Are they aged 50-years-plus, or are they millennials?”

Once you know postal codes, you can go to Canada Post and use the free online tool to review their data, which defines age, income, education, lifestyle, online shopping habits, and more. These detailed demographics help you understand your customer and can also be used for direct mail campaigns.

Loyalty Programs

You can also harvest your existing customers’ information through loyalty cards or shopping club programs. Collect the basic demographics about each person when they sign up, and then depending on the level of sophistication of your point-of-sale and customer relations management systems, you can also learn about their habits and preferences.

Other Sources

If you require specific expertise, there are many research and marketing firms, such as Lux Insights, Sentis, or the Mustel Group, all in BC. These firms specialize in identifying your target market.

Once you have this detailed customer information, you can tailor products, prices, service experience, channels, and messaging to resonate with your customers.

Marketing Strategies

The kind of outreach you employ to inform and build interest in what you have to offer depends on your audience. Tactics range from traditional advertising in print, radio, tv, or direct mail to online social media or working with brand ambassadors.

Tailor products, prices, service experience, channels, and messaging to resonate with your customers.

“Print advertising is our main marketing medium at Berezan,” Bilodeau shares. “However, we are moving towards a larger online presence as that medium evolves, and as demographics change.”

Speaking of online, are your customers using social media, and if so, what channels? Not all age groups use Instagram, but most groups use Facebook, for example. Make sure to use the channels that your target market is seeing.

Tailoring the In-house Experience

When you really understand your market, tailor your store or pub to give them a great experience. For example, the type of music you play will differ if your customers are Baby Boomers versus in their 20s.

For wayfinding and informational signage, menus and shelf pricing, the size and style of fonts on signs should be appropriate to the audience. Older people might require larger type, and those in their 20s might appreciate a chalk board; it all comes to understanding your audience.

How would you appeal to your customers once you know who they are and why they buy?

Sources to Identify Your Target Market

There are online tools that businesses can use to identify their target market and understand the demographics of the geographical area they are in.

Statistics Canada
Start at:
Go to the tab that says “Data” and start your search.
There are a lot of reports available.

Canada Post
Start at:
Click on “Business” and then “Marketing” and explore the options.
You will have a choice to learn about an audience or ways to reach out to an audience.

Government of BC
Start at:
On the menu, select British Columbians and our Government.
In the search bar enter “statistics” and explore the options listed.
On the footer there are links to other statistical sites.
Start at:
There are a few options including “Business, Industry & Trade” and “People, Population & Community” where you can view statistics including socioeconomic profiles, population projections, and more.

Work BC
Start at:
Choose “Labour Market and Industry”
While more focused to jobs, this page will lead you to a few options on industries, regions, and the employment outlook. Under “BC’s Economy” you will find demographic information.