Diwali 2021: What Should My Brand Do?

Diwali 2021: What Should My Brand Do?

It’s not too late to activate! With two thirds of Indian Americans celebrating Diwali, brands will want to make their mark on this important holiday. Keep reading to learn what Asian consumers expect from brands like yours on this festival of lights.

Diwali is one of the major festivals celebrated among Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and many Buddhists. The holiday lasts five days, and it coincides with the Hindu New Year according to their lunisolar calendar. Though it falls on November 4 this year, Diwali has some similarities to other winter and New Year’s celebrations, and comes with distinct cultural traditions.

Read on for key facts about the holiday, insights on how Asian American consumers celebrate, and ideas for how your brand can get involved.

What is Diwali?

Diwali honors the conclusion of the Ramayana, a key Hindu text and one of two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. It celebrates the triumphant return of Prince Rama after a 14-year exile, the rescue of his wife Sita, and his coronation as king. Rejoicing in Rama’s victories, Diwali celebrants honor light itself amidst the darkness of coming winter.  And for many Asian Americans, Diwali is an explicitly religious holiday, with the Goddess Lakshmi – symbolizing wealth and purity – a key focus.

Traditions of Diwali​

    • Candles and firecrackers are popular in Diwali celebrations, with diya oil lamps one of the more traditional means of proving light in the darkness
    • Rangoli is an art form common in Diwali preparations, where colored sand, flower petals, rocks, and powdered stone are arranged in colorful, patterned designs on a flat surface
    • Sweet foods are a traditional component of Diwali celebrations, with many preparing malpua pancakes, laddu balls, and other fare to eat and share
    • Puja is a worship ritual common among Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. On Diwali, offerings of light, flowers, sustenance, or song accompany these rituals, largely directed towards the Goddess Lakshmi

Among Indian Americans, having special food and drink is the most common way to celebrate Diwali. Eating and gifting sweets is therefore a key component of American Diwali, but many other customs – including fireworks, clothing, decorations, and religious ceremonies – are also popular.

Key Consumer Insights

According to Collage Group’s 2021 Holidays and Occasions study, 13% of the Asian American population celebrates Diwali, with 67% of Indian Americans making up the bulk of celebrants. Diwali therefore has a niche, but dedicated market.

Which means many brands may be wondering if they have permission to play.

Among Indian Americans, brands largely have a green light to focus on education. Most Indian Americans say brands should use their Diwali activations to explain what the holiday is and why it’s important, given that half of Americans – and 42% of Asian Americans – are not familiar with the festival at all. And Many Indian Americans also support brands sharing stories of people observing the holiday, as well as showing others what they can do to help celebrate.

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Transform Change into Opportunity: 2021 Virtual Members-Only Roundtable

Transform Change into Opportunity: 2021 Virtual Members-Only Roundtable

Explore how America’s diverse consumers have changed since 2020, specifically amidst unprecedented social and economic upheaval

The past 18 months have been a period of unprecedented change in America. The lingering COVID-19 pandemic coupled with social movements both embracing and resisting America’s increasing cultural diversity have created a set of new challenges for brands. These modern dilemmas include changing consumer expectations, deep polarization, and an urgent need to better connect with a diversifying America. Fortunately, these challenges are not insurmountable, and offer new opportunities to better connect with American consumers.

Collage Group is pleased to support more than 200 of America’s leading brands as they work to confront these challenges and transform change into opportunity. On November 3 at our 2021 Members-Only Roundtable, subscribers to our cultural intelligence platform(s) will learn how to leverage our cultural insights and tools to connect with the dynamic American consumer. The 2021 Roundtable will provide attendees with new research and engaging panel discussion focused on leveraging cultural insight to effectively navigate both today and tomorrow’s changing consumer landscape. Learn more in the agenda.

Attendees will learn:

    1. How consumers’ perspectives and behaviors related to COVID-19, racial justice, cultural diversity, and brand action have changed since 2020
    2. Which changes are likely to sustain into the future (and which might not)
    3. How to leverage cultural insights to connect across consumer segments
    4. Which brands and ads are on track to win with consumers and why

Presentations Include:

America Now: How We Have Changed Since 2020

We explore changes to diverse consumer attitudes at this key juncture in American history. Attendees will obtain exclusive insights into diverse consumer perspectives on climate change and polarizing issues, such as racism and the pandemic, compared to 2020. These learnings are key for 2022 planning.

CultureRate: Features of Winning Brands & Ads

Our analysis of hundreds of brands and ads reveals insights into the drivers of brand Cultural Fluency and how to transcend the tradeoff between targeted and general market ads. We conclude with a dive into the application of “lookalikes” to help brands improve targeting of diverse consumers.

Member Panel

Learn from America’s preeminent brand leaders in a discussion centered on actions internally and in marketing to stay ahead of the rapid changes underway in America. Hear how leaders from Pernod Ricard, McDonald’s and GSK are navigating the evolution of the modern American consumer.

Contact us today to learn more about how you can gain access to Collage Group’s 2021 Roundtable. You won’t want to miss this chance to learn where there is no going back and how you can ensure that your brand effectively marches into the future.

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Multicultural Consumer Media Consumption

Multicultural Consumer Media Consumption

Optimize your brand’s connection with consumers across multicultural segments by understanding where they consume media content, and why they go where they do. Keep reading for key insights on social media, visual entertainment, and audio streaming, with downloadable deck and webinar replay.

Media is a major aspect of consumers’ everyday lives. Americans spend a significant amount of their time and attention consuming social media, visual entertainment, and audio streaming content. For brands and advertisers across industries to succeed, they need to understand where people are going to consume media content, and why they’re going there.

    • Are they following specific topics?
    • Are they following influencers?
    • Are they looking for products to purchase?
    • Are they just killing time?
    • Is it device dependent?
    • Does it depend on the race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender of the characters or hosts?

Collage Group’s 2021 Media Study answers these questions by providing granular insights across multicultural segments. Our research reveals the specific platforms American media users go to, and what they’re using them for. The data dives deep into content and platform drivers—spanning categories, passion points, and identity attributes.

Fill out the form below to access the Media Consumption in Diverse America ranked as part of our CultureRate research.

Media Consumption in Diverse America

Social Media

Key Insight: Across age cohorts, multicultural segments are more likely to engage in consumer journey behaviors on social media.

Not only are multicultural Americans more likely to use social media in the first place, they’re also more likely to be power-users, engaging with brands and products alongside friends and family. These relative differences are most pronounced for the 41+ Hispanic segment, where they uniquely over-index in finding new products, communicating directly with brands, finding coupons, and participating in competitions on social media.

Video Media

Key Insight: Black and Hispanic Americans are most likely to add subscriptions for specific content

Over half of Hispanic Americans, and about a third of Black and Asian Americans, listen to podcasts or radio shows in a non-English language. And for Hispanic and Asian consumers, the primary resource they use is social media, on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. Hispanic Americans also over-index on AM/FM radio, Spotify, and Pandora for non-English audio content.

Audio Media

Key Insight: For non-English radio shows and podcasts, social media and AM/FM radio are multicultural consumers’ go-to sources. 

Over half of Hispanic Americans, and about a third of Black and Asian Americans, listen to podcasts or radio shows in a non-English language. And for Hispanic and Asian consumers, the primary resource they use is social media, on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. Hispanic Americans also over-index on AM/FM radio, Spotify, and Pandora for non-English audio content.

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Fill out the form below to access the Top 20 Brands and Ads ranked as part of our CultureRate research.

Revealed: Top 20 Ads and Brands Resonating Across Diverse America

Revealed: Top 20 Ads and Brands Resonating Across Diverse America

Lysol, Netflix, Google, and Band-Aid rank among the most Culturally Fluent brands in our analysis of more than 500 brands and 200 ads across the last 18 months.

Collage Group is pleased to unveil our rankings of the more than 500 brands and 200 ads evaluated as part of our extensive CultureRate:Brand and CultureRate:Ad database. Lysol, Netflix, Google, and Band-Aid rank among the most Culturally Fluent brands, while Dove, National Geographic, Oreo and Campbell’s produced the most Culturally Fluent ad creative.

Fill out the form below to access the Top 20 Brands and Ads ranked as part of our CultureRate research.

Top Ten Ads and Brands

The research includes more than 20 industries across 100 subcategories, and is organized into 10 broad sectors, including: Alcoholic Beverages, Automotive, Education, Financial Services & Banking, Food & Beverages, Health & Wellness, Household Products, Media & Telecom, Personal Products, and Retail & QSR.

The rankings follow the release of new U.S. Census data that shows America is much more racially and ethnically diverse than ever. For example, the multiracial population (individuals reporting more than one race) jumped 276% over the past decade—from 9 million in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020.

“Consumers are expecting more of brands as cultural transformation of the American consumer accelerates,” says David Wellisch, Collage Group Co-Founder and CEO. “Given the rapidly changing demographic landscape, a deep understanding of cultural resonance and its drivers is an essential capacity to create a winning brand strategy in diverse America.”

Collage Group’s proprietary measurement and benchmarketing tool, CultureRate, offers brands a superior way to measure brand and ad Cultural Fluency–the organizational ability to use culture to efficiently and effectively connect across consumer segments.

CultureRate research centers on a key metric referred to as the Cultural Fluency Quotient (CFQ). CFQ scores are designed specifically to measure cultural resonance across segments for both brands (B-CFQ) and ads (A-CFQ). Researchers developed the measurement by testing 20 distinct components scores in multiple combinations to accurately measure cultural resonance while providing predictive insight into higher purchase intent and brand favorability. CFQ scores provide marketing and insights professionals with a tool to gauge their brand or ad cultural fluency and evaluate the competitive landscape.

Top Ten Brands for Cultural Fluency* include:

1.   Lysol

2.   Netflix

3.   YouTube

3.   M&M’s

3.   Clorox

4.   Band-Aid

4.   Dawn

5.   Google

6.   Amazon

7. Hershey’s

Top 15 Ads for Cultural Fluency* include:

1.   Dove: All Hair is Beautiful

2.   Oreo: Stay Home, Stay Playful

2.   National Geographic: Reimaging Dinosaurs

2.   Dove: Skin Stories

2.   Lysol: Questions Need Answers

3.   Frito-Lay: Let’s Summer

3.   Campbell’s: Snowbuddy

3.   Disney: Magic is Here

4.   Tropicana: Breakfast Across America

4.   Dunkin’: Welcome to Dunkin’

4.   Clorox: Caregivers – Bodega

4.    Subaru: Crosstrek Girl Trip

4.   Coca-Cola: History Shakers

4.   McCormick: Taco Night

4.   Cascade: Do It Every Night With Cascade Platinum

*Only brands with an average awareness of over 60 respondents per segment are included to avoid low sample issues. Several brands and ads tied for the top rankings. Collage Group’s CultureRate Explorer tool includes all rankings.

CFQ reports ranking the top brands and ads are now available for each major industry in Collage Group’s CultureRate Explorer tool, with deep dive reports available exclusively for subscribers of Collage Group’s cultural intelligence platforms. Each deep dive report includes overall category CFQ rankings by consumer segment and acculturation levels, as well as Cultural Reach scores that show how many segments with whom an ad or brand is resonant. Where a robust sample is available, sub-category rankings are also included.

“These reports are just one of the many ways Collage Group supports its members,” says David Evans, Collage Group Chief Product Officer. “When coupled with Cultural Traits, Passion Points and the combined 78 million insights in our cultural intelligence platform, more than 200 of America’s leading brands are leveraging CultureRate to effectively and efficiently leapfrog competitors to engage and win America’s diverse consumers.”

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How Brands Can Break Through a Polarized America

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With the rise of multiculturalism and a chaotic political climate, brands have found themselves in a tough balancing act. Often, they need to decide if they should stay on the sidelines or take action, at the risk of becoming a punchline.

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Identity Demographics Drive Where Brands Should “Take a Stand”

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In 2018, it can seem like a brand expressing a political or social opinion can be equivalent to stepping on a minefield. On Twitter and beyond, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Backlash can come quickly from either side of the political aisle. Our clients are increasingly asking us for guidance on when their brands should take a stand, and which areas are no fly zones.

To help answer this, we launched an initiative examining polarization in America. So, what social issues do consumers want brands to talk about?

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Advertising that Works with Gen-Z & Millennials (Part 2)


In the first part of this series on standing out and winning with young Americans, we confirmed that millennials and gen-z are in fact harder to engage through advertising. In part 2, we’ll touch on some elements that actually work to increase engagement.

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Breaking through the Clutter: Advertising that Works with Gen-Z & Millennials (Part 1)


By nature the digital world is a fractured ecosystem. The proliferation of screens, rise of social media, and creation of new digital media outlets have converged to create unprecedented stimulation. This is acutely felt for gen-Z and millennials.

So how do brands break through the clutter? In the hyper-competitive landscape of screens and messages, how do they stand out and win with young Americans. This is the question at the core of Breaking through the Clutter, the latest work unveiled at our executive roundtables, co-hosted by Google and A+E Networks.

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Casting in Advertising: The Do’s and Don’ts of Culturally-Authentic Content

What does it mean to be authentic in today’s world? How can companies create content that truly resonates with key consumer targets?  There are four critical areas that marketers need to assess to create compelling campaigns: casting, language, passion points, and situation.

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Activating with Cultural Fluency

Can a brand be culturally fluent? Is there such a thing? If so, when does a brand achieve this and and why is this important?

We look at the framework through a brand lens to inform activation choices for marketers. If you’re new to this idea, start with Cultural Fluency: A Framework for Winning in Today’s America.

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