Canadian Millennials aren’t all the same: Segmentation and Personalities

Although people often discuss Generation Y or the Millennials as a single group, Millennials are not all the same.  While there are common attributes that unite most Millennials, there are significant differences within the group.

Certainly there are basic life cycle differences.  Older Millennials, like me, have graduated school and are working.  Many older Millennials own property, are starting families, and are close to paying off the debt they accumulated from post-secondary education.  Younger Millennials are still in high school, planning what to do once they graduate, and still dreaming big like all Millennials once did.

Introducing the YSegmentation.  Abacus Data's six unique Millennial consumer segments.

Introducing the YSegmentation. Abacus Data’s six unique Millennial consumer segments.

These life cycle and socio-economic differences are important to marketing.  They can form the basis of geodemographic segmentation.

But like all people, Millennials are defined beyond just their education level, income, or age.  They also have very different personalities that impact our behaviours as consumers, employees/employers, and as citizens.

Market segmentation allows marketers to tailor marketing and product strategies to target different groups.  Geographic and demographic segmentation is the most utilized way of separating and understanding a market.

But psychographic segmentation can also provide insights and better targets for engaging consumers as unique as the Millennial generation.

To better understand our generation, Abacus Data developed a proprietary psychographic segmentation based on the personality and gender of Canadian Millennials.  We call it YSegmentation.

Using cluster analysis and a series of survey questions, our YSegmentation produced six unique Canadian Millennial segments.  Each have unique personalities that help explain their values, opinions, and behaviours.

Get to Know the YSegments


AbacusData_AchieverThese go-getters want it all, they place a high priority on both having a family and a successful career. While Achievers are outgoing, adventurous and willing to try new things, they are not normally described as carefree.  In fact, many would consider them a little up-tight.  Achievers identify themselves as stylish, cultured and eco-conscious. They are likely to buy organic foods, go to the gym or a yoga class and would rather avoid technology when they can.

For this group actions and positions are important to help them set themselves apart from the rest. They are driven by success and this group always seems to be ahead. They like to stay on top of what is going on around them and they want to make a positive difference. This group will keep others updated on what is important to them by posting about their activities, and sharing information about topics of interest to them. They are willing to offer help and suggestions to their friends and networks about opportunities they see or other interesting things they think someone might want to check out.

Find out more about the Achievers


AbacusData_PacerWhile they may be shy, Pacers know that people look to them for information. They grew up as important trendsetters in certain areas, like the technology industry, and they know this is their strength. Pacers prefer to congregate with people who have similar interests instead of following the flock to malls and parties. These self-professed “couch potatoes” may prefer to stay home but they are more likely to communicate with people from all over the world through social networks, online groups, and multiplayer videogames online.

Pacers are always working on something, a defining feature is that they want to test their limits and they challenge themselves. Even as couch potatoes, some Pacers may come across as high functioning, though not all have this same trait. Others can be more relaxed and easy going.

They are known for being smart and their strengths have always been valued. The people in this group are not alternatives. They are very connected and they are connected to other people who understand them.

Find out more about the Pacers


AbacusData_StampederStampeders are a unique male segment. They like to be in the centre of it all and their friends would describe them to be outgoing, athletic, stylish, cultured and adventurous. In fact, Stampeders are really the female mirror of the Fireflies. They like to party, play videogames and watch sports. This group is creative, eco-conscious and aware of new technology. While they are focused on their career right now they don’t mind living at home until they can afford a place of their own. Stampeders are confident of themselves in most things and, for example, most believe that they would do better than average in a fist fight.

Stampeders like to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd. They are not necessarily the best at everything but they are defined by their strengths. And although Stampeders may seem threatening to their peers, they are well liked among people in their networks who know them.

Find out more about the Stampeders


AbacusData_FootlooseFireflies like to go out and have a good time. They are adventurous, outgoing and carefree. In fact, the Fireflies are almost the female mirror of the Stampeders. Driven by spontaneity they don’t usually make plans in advance. Whether they are in the gym or outdoors most Fireflies like to be active. Despite their wild ways, they hope to make a difference in the world someday.

This group most highly values their inner networks, “their favourites” – whether that may be their older sister, their best friends or even their parents. They want to do what is best and make the right decisions. Fireflies want to take the opportunities that are given to them. They want to actually do things. And if they have the tools to do them, they’ll grab some friends and just go and do it.

Find out more about the Fireflies


AbacusData_SparkSparks are eco-conscious, creative and want to make a difference. They tend to be more shy than outgoing. They value having free time and like being in the city where they can be close to everything. Most Sparks are working part-time jobs just to get them by and aren’t driven by career success right now. On a Saturday evening, Sparks would rather have a quiet night in than go out to a party.

The sparks are willing to take things at a slower pace and try to enjoy just being where they are. They are not rushing to be something different or to prove themselves. However they are always interested in learning more about the world that they are not regularly exposed to. They would be interested in travelling abroad to learn about the world and see new things from a different perspective.

Find out more about the Sparks

Simple Lifers

AbacusData_SimpleLiferSimple Lifers have worked to get where they are. They are content working for a large company and hope to own a comfortable home someday in the suburbs. These Millennials like to wear nice but functional clothing and drive nice but functional cars. Most Simple Lifers do not consider themselves eco-conscious or creative, in their free time they prefer to kick back and watch a sports game.

They have financial independence as their focus and are guided by their down to earth rationality. They like to keep it simple; if they can avoid the crowds and stick to their own usual routine they’re happy.

For them hanging out with their friends after work or on the weekend is their favourite. But they are definitely interested in getting out of town for a worthwhile event like a hockey game in a city south of the border.

Find out more about the Simple Lifers

Find your inner Millennial

If you’re curious what Millennial segment you are closest to you, you can find out.

Head over to our personality quiz at and take the test.  You can then read about your Millennial segment. (Note, the quiz is Flash based so you need to be on a computer to complete it)

Find out more about Canadian Millennials

For more information about Canadian Millennials, visit our dedicated website  You can also read our report: R U Ready For Us?  It provides an introduction to our generation incorporating original survey research and other research conducted on Millennials around the world.

David Coletto is CEO of Abacus Data and leads its Public Affairs research practice. He has a PhD from the University of Calgary and is an adjunct professor at Carleton University.  He’s an avid road cyclist.

Contact David Coletto:

T: 613-232-2806 x. 248



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