This guest blog post is provided by Statistics Canada who is responsible for producing statistics that help Canadians better understand their country — its population, resources, economy, society and culture.

As a business owner or a manager, you appreciate the importance of high-quality market intelligence. Understanding your present and prospective customers is one of the most important aspects of an effective business plan.

With the release of results from Statistics Canada's National Household Survey (NHS), Canadian businesses now have free access to yet another valuable data source on the socio-economic, education and cultural characteristics of the Canadian population. The 2011 NHS was the largest survey ever conducted by Statistics Canada, with some 4.5 million households invited to take part.

So how do you go about finding the NHS data you need? Let's say you manage a grocery store in a culturally diverse community. You want to diversify your products in order to tap into new customer bases. You are interested in the main ethnic origins of the population as well as the places of birth of recent immigrants who are now living in your community.

A very useful product to help you with your research is the NHS Profile. The profile presents information from the NHS for various levels of geography, including provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas/census agglomerations, census divisions, census subdivisions and federal electoral districts.

The profile allows you to search for an area of interest by typing its place name, browsing a list or by entering a postal code. Let's say your store is located in Burnaby, BC. To access the NHS profile for Burnaby:

1. Type 'Burnaby'
2. Select 'search'
3. Choose 'Burnaby (City)' 

Just like that, you now have hundreds of rows of data on residents of Burnaby, including their ethnic origin and selected places of birth of recent immigrants.

As you can imagine, this article has just scratched the surface of the NHS data. We invite you to discover more information on the NHS website.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call us at 1-800-263-1136 or e-mail us at