Michael Adams


Michael Adams

Leading Market Researcher

One of Canada’s leading thinkers on public opinion, demographics, and trends, and the president of the Environics group of research and communications consulting companies, Michael Adams delivers ground-breaking social research, customising his talks to make his findings relevant to whatever type of organization he is speaking to.

 Adams is the author of numerous bestselling books, including: Sex in the Snow: Canadian Social Values at the End of the Millennium; Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values; and Stayin’ Alive: How Canadian Baby Boomers Will Work, Play, and Find Meaning In the Second Half of Their Adult Lives

Adams holds an Honours B.A. in Political Science from Queen’s University and a Masters in Sociology from the University of Toronto, and received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Ryerson University in Toronto.

He was named as one of the 100 most influential people in Canadian communications by Marketing magazine and he was made a Fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, the highest honour which can be bestowed upon a member, for his contribution to marketing and survey research in Canada.

Fire and Ice in the era of Obama and Harper: The surprising trajectory of social values among Americans and Canadians

In 2003, Michael Adams published the Canadian bestseller Fire and Ice in which he exploded the myth that Canadians and Americans are gradually becoming alike. Despite the two countries’ profound economic integration, their many historical, demographic, and geographic similarities, and the ubiquity of American popular culture, Adams used comprehensive social values research to make the case that Canadians and Americans increasingly see the world though different moral and motivational prisms.   A decade later, how are social values among Americans and Canadians evolving in a time with Democrat Barack Obama occupying the White House, and Conservative Stephen Harper firmly ensconced at Sussex Drive?  Michael Adams presents the latest social values research from both countries which reveals surprising shifts that help explain recent social and political events, and provide valuable insight into what we can expect in the future.   Michael offers insights on the trajectory of social values in both Canada and the USA give rise to different expectations and desires regarding in a range of areas, including public policy, consumer expectations, human resource planning, marketing and branding.

Stayin' Alive: How Canadian Baby Boomers Will Work, Play, and Find Meaning In the Second Half of Their Adult Lives

As Canada’s Baby Boomers prepare to enter the second half of their adult lives, leading pollster and thinker Michael Adams describes his generation’s thoughts on topics ranging from retirement and spirituality to sexuality and funeral plans. This fun and insightful presentation draws on more than twenty years of Environics social values data to illustrate how the four boomer social-values “tribes” (Disengaged Darwinists, Connected Enthusiasts, Autonomous Rebels, and Anxious Communitarians) are evolving in fascinating ways as they age.


Adams outlines each tribe’s approach to retirement, health, technology, family, consumption, spirituality, and politics; this tribal segmentation is an important corrective to analyses that treat Canada’s largest generation (over 9-million men and women) as a monolith all moving to a single drumbeat of aging and retirement. His playful accounts of the foibles of his own generation and its various tribes offer amusement as well as illumination. This truly unique collection of trends and insights will be invaluable to marketers, policy makers, human resource professionals and anyone else seeking to understand where Baby Boomers – and the rest of us – are headed in the years to come.

The Shape of Things to Come: The Changing Portrait of Canada's Demographic and Public Opinion Landscape

We all have a picture in our minds of Canada, shaped by our personal experiences and what we absorb from others we know and from the media. Rarely do we benefit from a wider view as experienced by representative survey samplings of Canadians over a long period, in this case the past 35 years or more. This presentation offers a unique portrait of Canada as painted by the empirical facts of changing demography and public opinion, showing where the country has been, where it is today, and the direction it appears to be heading.


Michael Adams offers a compelling analysis of who Canadians are as a people, as defined by the country’s evolving demographic mix, and collective public attitudes about such issues as the economy and taxes, the role of government, health care, immigration and multiculturalism, crime and justice, and Canada’s role in the world. In sharp contrast to the snapshot polls that blanket the media (generally presented without comparisons to other societies or across time), this presentation offers a rare depth and richness, reflecting on long-term trends in the context of unfolding events, both in Canada and in other countries.


This talk offers an immense repository of information on Canadian demographics and attitudes, combined with Michael’s unique perspective and humourous take on the nation’s enduring quirks and urgent dilemmas.

Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Multiculturalism

Canada has the highest immigration rate and the second-largest foreign-born population in the world. With so much internal diversity – and in a world where ethnic and religious strife seems to be proliferating rather than abating over time – is this country on a collision course with social disaster?


In this provocative talk, Michael Adams answers No: Canada’s so-called experiment with diversity is in fact a remarkable success. Using both demographic and public opinion data, Adams shows that the vast majority of newcomers to Canada are ready to integrate into their new society, and the vast majority of “old Canadians” are ready to welcome them. Considering both both social attitudes and economic outcomes, there is plenty of cause for optimism.


Accepting a quarter-million newcomers a year is not without challenges, but the anxious headlines in the morning paper are not telling the full story of diversity in Canada. This clear-eyed, data-driven talk (with data updated through 2011) will be invaluable to anyone striving to make diversity work in their own organization – and to anyone who dares flirt with optimism about Canada’s future.

The Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study

The 2006 Canadian census reported that for the first time a majority of Aboriginal people in Canada were living in cities. This large, young, and rapidly growing urban population is almost totally absent, however, from the public image of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people living in Canada.


The Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study (UAPS) is a landmark study of the identities, aspirations, values, and identities of a representative sample of this growing population amongst us. It reveals a population that is hugely diverse, but on the whole culturally vibrant, optimistic about urban life (despite experiences of discrimination), and strongly focused on education as a pathway to a better future.


The UAPS is one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted with Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples, and presentations can offer a broad overview of key findings, or a customized focus on particular topics (e.g., education, employment, identity, culture), identity groups (First Nations, Metis, Inuit) or cities (from a list of 11, spanning from Halifax to Vancouver). Presentations can also be arranged to include the participation of one of the study’s Aboriginal advisors.