Urbanites by the numbers

The urban-dwelling demographic can present a significant opportunity for marketers, as well as some challenges. Here are some facts about this group.

Despite housing costs skyrocketing in cities across Canada (with no sign of easing any time soon), living an urban lifestyle is a hot topic of debate. In Toronto, an extra 90,000 condos are set to hit the market over the next few years, while cities like Ottawa are experiencing, for the first time, a boom in condo construction. Are people, especially with families, really ready to give up their suburban lifestyles (with big homes, vast yards and “safe neighbourhoods”) in favour of less space more conveniently located in walkable areas?

For marketers, urban dwellers present a big opportunity (and some challenges).

Here are some key facts about this target group:

Eighty-one percent of all Canadians live in an urban area (including cities, suburbs and bedroom communities). But Canada is still a suburbanation: 22.4 million live in the suburbs. That leaves almost 5 million Canadians living in city centres. City centres’ populations grew 5.3% less than the national average of  8.7% between 2006 and 2011.

The exceptions

Toronto’s urban core more than tripled between 2006 and 2011. Vancouver’s core rose 11%. In Vancouver, 16% of that increase came from immigrants, double the average for the greater Vancouver area.

Profile of an urbanite

By and large, living downtown means a lower income:

In Winnipeg, those in the downtown core make $40,000 versus the $53,000 average for the city. Calgary’s average downtown income is $70,000, compared to $78,000 for the overall city.

Proximity to the downtown core is the most important factor in choosing a home, say 24.3% of millennials and 26.3% of baby boomers. In Toronto’s centre, 54% want to walk to a grocery store or food vendor, compared to 31% of those in the GTA.

Downsizing for a tighter squeeze

The average home shrank 400 square feet to 1,900 square feet for new properties from its peak of 2,300 square feet in the mid-2000s. Despite popular belief, 40.6% of baby boomers have no interest in downsizing their family home in favour of a downtown condo.

Urban living image via Shutterstock