Using Consumer Segments to Unlock Potential Wins in the Non-Profit Sector

Using Consumer Segments to Unlock Potential Wins in the Non-Profit Sector

With the purchasing mayhem of Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, many consumers are quickly shifting their focus to giving back on “Giving Tuesday.” Now in its fifth year, Giving Tuesday is a movement for giving and volunteering that takes place on the day after Cyber Monday. But in the spirit of giving, what makes consumers’ hearts beat when it comes to charitable and non-profit organizations?

For non-profits across Canada looking to capture consumers’ attention throughout the holiday season, it’s important to understand consumer segments and which emotional and rational characteristics contribute to their decision-making processes. That means digging into a cohesive blend of tangible and intangible elements that create powerful bonds between consumers and non-profit brands—bonds that make these brands not only important, but personally relevant. To get deeper insight, a recent EquiTrend non-profit study, released by Nielsen, examined Canadians’ views of non-profits to help charitable organizations understand the various donor segments and how to effectively engage them.

The Equitrend study segmented Canadians donors into five categories:

  • Sophisticates are active luxury seekers who have high standards in lifestyle and brand choices. Skewed toward self-employed entrepreneurs, with a higher level of education and household income, Sophisticates enjoy their financial independence, and they favour luxury automobiles and innovative technology brands.
  • Youthful Digitals are digital natives who connect early with the world through digital and social media and are strongly engaged with music, video streaming and technology brands. As early adopters youthful digitals prefer the digital wallet as their choice of payment. They shop online retailers as well as mass merchandisers to look for deals. They value creativity and freedom. Crowdfunding is where they exhibit and socialize their entrepreneurial spirit, obtaining funding and support for their personal and professional projects. 
  • Pragmatists represent the busy worker. This group skews male and is more likely to have young children. When it comes to brand choices, pragmatists look to practicability and reliability. They are bargain hunters, attracted to discount retailers, reliable electronics, and economical car brands. Wireless communication is especially important for this segment, as it keeps them connected with their work and family. Besides work and family responsibilities, they allow themselves to have fun, watching sports and traveling for leisure; however, they normally go with less-expensive and family-friendly options.
  • Sentimentals represent the mature, retired and socially active group. Retiring from work does not mean retiring from life. This female-skewed mature segment is still living an active social lifestyle. They are family-oriented and “nest-investors.” They’re also socially conscious and willing to give back to their community. They are enthusiastic about charities and especially moved by topics related to health, family and children. They keep themselves connected through mass media and charities. As “digital immigrants,” Sentimentals are getting used to acquire information from digital media. Facetime and email have become their way of staying connected with their families and friends. As shoppers, they value quality brands and loyalty programs.
  • Indifferents are not brand sensitive. This male-skewed segment is disengaged from brands for almost all categories. For them, it’s all about product features and functionality. They essentially relate to flagship Canadian sports teams, all around hockey.

Non-profits want to make a positive social impact, as doing so helps them strengthen their emotional connections with potential donors. The EquiTrend Non-Profit study used a five-level agree/disagree scale to examine Canadians’ views of non-profits, including perceived reputation, trust in the organization and perceived positive social impact. By evaluating consumer agreement, non-profit brands can determine how strongly or not their causes are recognized to contribute to society in general, beyond those they intend to serve.


EquiTrend non-profit study is based on a total sample of more than 10,000 Canadians aged 18+ and surveyed online in December 2015. Respondents had the choice to complete the survey in English or French. Respondents in the survey rated 411 brands across 60 categories.The data  were weighted to be representative of the entire Canadian population of consumers ages 18 and over based on age, gender, education, language, region, race and their propensity to be online.