Cutting Big Data Down to Size

Powered by 40+ data sources, Environics’ PRIZM5 tool segments the Canadian population into clusters you can search by postal code.

By Sarah B. Hood

With advances in social media and big data, it seems that every marketer will soon have the ability to contact every individual consumer directly—more or less. The “less” part of the equation is that the wealth of data out there can be bewildering.

Jim Kalogerakos, president of STAT Analytics & Technology, points to apps like PRIZM5, a tool offered by Environics Analytics that demonstrates how much data are available for marketers at the postal code level. A more comprehensive analysis of customer lists can help identify the best target groups for any given event.

“Sometimes there’s so much data you get caught in what I call analysis paralysis,” Kalogerakos says. “PRIZM5 is a segmentation model that organizes the Canadian population into one of 68 clusters. This helps marketers group them, understand common behaviours, then develop campaigns to target them more effectively.” A free online version offers a sneak peek; the full app provides some 30,000 pieces of data per postal code.

The Canadian version is adapted from a U.S. prototype using a wide range of data sources such as government records, building permits and immigration data, says Michele Sexsmith, Environics’ senior vice-president and practice leader.

PRIZM5 “gets more into the psychographic element about what drives behaviour,” she explains, adding “it helps with a lot of key decisions, like where to locate a venue, and it helps with the marketing when a venue has been developed. They can also use it for sponsorship, being able to show the value of the ticket-holder base.”

PRIZM5 helped the now-defunct Niagara Sport Tourism Commission bid successfully for the 2021 Canada Summer Games, says Kalogerakos. “We used PRIZM5 to identify audiences that have a high propensity to attend live sporting events.”

PRIZM5 is often used to identify the best prospects and neighbourhoods for direct mail campaigns. Fewer but more effective direct mail pieces help save costs and allow for more effective and relevant messaging. “All you need is the city and the postal code,” notes Kalogerakos, “so it’s privacy-compliant.” 

Find your ideal market

A sampling of PRIZM5’s datasets

Montreal’s Pointe-Saint-Charles: Metro Multiculturals

Diverse middle-aged and older households

Population 784,265

Average Household Income $98,331

“I like sharing major events.”


  • Comedy clubs
  • Racquet sports
  • Basketball games
  • Watch live tennis

Vancouver’s Commercial Drive: Urban Digerati

Younger, well-educated city singles

Population 547,027

Average Household Income $116,553

“Young people should be taught to question authority.”


  • Health clubs
  • Bars
  • Popular music/rock concerts
  • Food and wine shows
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