Geek looking at data


Where Are You Spring?

Mar 18, 2014, 12:34 PM by Andrea Longman

The winter of 2013-2014 has officially overstayed its welcome. The weathercasters developed new lingo to describe the bitter, bitter cold to the equally bitter, bitter population. “Polar” and “vortex” are two words I never want to hear strung together again—particularly in reference to the weather outside my window. It may be only mid-March, but my internal clock (and tired winter wardrobe) says it’s time for spring.

I thought I would see if there was any available data that would show which Canadian cities long the most for warm weather. Unfortunately, I don’t have easy access to data on temperature patterns, amount of snowfall or the wind-chill factor history. However, I do have syndicated surveys at my fingertips.

It’s too bad that none of the surveys track behaviour like “hanging out at the local patio bar”. For me, packed patios when it is sunny and above 10 degrees Centigrade mean that spring is here.

Of course, I’ve noticed that sports enthusiasts don’t really wait for warm weather. People from Canada bike, run and hike in all but the coldest and snowiest days—and even then I’ve seen them on the road and trails despite blizzard conditions—to which I can only observe, “Brrr...”

winter-cycling-utrecht-chris-heijmansWhile our company databases can tell you where to find people who enjoy skiing and skating, there is not a variable for “indulge in picnic under brilliant blue sky while a light breeze tousles your hair”. But if that’s your high-indexing behaviour, you may want the ground to thaw before laying out your feast atop a blanket. A question: Is it still a picnic if it’s too cold to entice unwanted guests? Sorry ants, bees, wasps and my neighbor Sam—nothing personal.

I think the ones who yearn most for spring are the gardeners. They lavish their love on growing living things that feed our bellies and souls. I imagine their pining for spring must match that of young men looking forward to sundress weather.

So let’s find the cities across Canada that have a high concentration of people who participate in gardening—the “do-ers.” By looking at the penetration of gardeners in each city and then comparing that percentage to the national penetration of gardeners, we can determine which cities are crying loudest for this winter to end.

Top 10 Cities in Canada

From this analysis, it appears that the smaller cities in Canada are feeling the bite of this prolonged winter more than the rest of the country. They all have above-average percentages of gardeners in their populations, too. According to this measure, Parksville (BC), Norfolk (ON) and Elliot Lake (ON) are the winners (or emotional losers) in the competition.




Top 10 Cities with Populations Greater than 250,000 people, aged 12+

You can find significant percentages of gardeners in larger cities, too, but they are only at or slightly above the Canadian average. However, as one of those frozen-out gardeners, I have no doubt that they too are longing for spring.

If I were a client looking for a city, town, neighbourhood or postal code with a significant percentage or greater-than-average number of target people or households, I would address that marketing challenge the same way: develop a marker (if no actual variable exists) for a specific behaviour or attitude and dig into the data, narrowing down the findings to identify a significant market. And since those picnic-and-patio days seem like a long way off, I might as well hunker down here at the office and apply that process to help solve a client’s problem. I know some day in the near future I’ll be able to walk down a beautiful garden-lined street searching for a nice patio to enjoy.





andrea-longmanAndrea Longman is a Senior Research Analyst with the Standard Research team.