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America Now: Mental Health

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America Now: Mental Health
Mental health is an important issue for Americans – now more than ever. Our 2021 Roundtable Presentation, America Now, offers insights that help explain how Americans are feeling about mental health and what brands can do to support them. Read on to learn more.

May 6, 2022
Sudipti Kumar – Associate Director

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Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are at an all-time high in the United States. Increased political polarization, heightened racial tension, and the ongoing pandemic are just some of the reasons that contribute to a lower overall sense of well-being for Americans. In a recent survey we conducted, we found that Gen Z Americans are the least likely to be satisfied with their physical and non-physical well-being, including their mental and emotional health.

In addition to the factors affecting all Americans, social media likely has an outsized impact on Gen Z’s mental health. Our survey data reveals that Gen Z is the least likely to feel confident in themselves, while also being the most likely to compare themselves to others on social media. And then there’s recent research, including Instagram’s internal research, that highlights the potentially negative impact of social media on younger people(1).

Something else that likely adds to young Americans’ struggles with mental health is the belief that they can’t show their emotions.  In fact, almost 50% of Gen Z Americans agreed with the statement: “I can’t show my emotions because society tells me I need to be strong”, compared to only 22% of Boomers.

But here’s the good news—despite their struggles, Gen Z’ers want to improve their mental health. When asked where they are most focused with respect to their health and wellness, over 40% of the segment chose improving their mood/mental health. This suggests improving mental health is a top priority for Gen Z, even higher than improving their diet and increasing physical activity.

Now you may be thinking, how can my brand help improve people’s mental health? It turns out there are several ways you can play a positive role and connect with consumers in the process.

  1. Support and amplify influencers sharing openly about their mental health struggles
    Many young Americans (~80%, in fact!) think it’s admirable when a public figure shares about their mental health struggles. Brands that show support for these individuals and amplify their voices will likely capture consumer attention and create affinity. Consider Cartoon Network’s shout out to Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles, and ESPN highlighting the many athletes that have spoken up about their mental health struggles including Michael Phelps and Demar Derozan.
                 

  2. Provide supportive resources
    Many brands are creating resources that consumers can use to improve their mental health. For example:
    – Athleta, Simone Biles’ sponsor, launched a new platform dedicated to women’s wellness called AthletaWell just days after Biles withdrew from the 2021 Olympic team finals for mental health reasons.
    – Maybelline New York launched the “Brave Together” program, an online platform to open the conversation around anxiety and depression.
    – JanSport has developed a fully integrated brand effort called #Lightentheload to connect Generation Z with resources to tackle the mental health challenges they face.

  3. Donate to causes
    There are important causes that aim to improve the mental health of young Americans. Stella and Bow donates proceeds of their Rainbow Connection necklace to a charity focused on helping people with depression and addiction. And Philosophy has donated over five million dollars to mental health initiatives via their hope & grace initiative. Consider donating to one or more mental health causes and then use social media and other marketing efforts to let your market know they too can have a positive impact by donating.

Contact us at the form below to learn more about how you can gain access to these diverse consumer insights and much more in our Cultural Intelligence Platform.

Sources:

(1) NPR, “Instagram Worsens Body Image Issues And Erodes Mental Health”, https://www.npr.org/2021/09/26/1040756541/instagram-worsens-body-image-issues-and-erodes-mental-health

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Sudipti Kumar
Associate Director

Sudipti is an Associate Director on Collage Group’s Product and Content team. She is a graduate from NYU’s Stern School of Business where she studied finance and marketing, and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs where she received her Masters in Public Administration. In her spare time, Sudipti enjoys reading, cooking, and learning to crochet.

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America Now: Life Priorities Across Generations

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America Now: Life Priorities Across Generations

This research is part of a series that expands on our 2021 Roundtable Presentation, America Now. Read on for a snapshot of American generations’ current priorities in life.

Understanding Americans’ priorities and life values offers crucial context into how consumers make choices. Personal values often stem from cultural context, such as each generation’s unique upbringing. While one’s outlook on life usually remains stable over time, the pandemic sparked a massive reevaluation of priorities as Americans grappled with uncertainty and unexpected life changes. Brands must stay abreast of these changing consumer tides by getting back to basics: understanding their target consumers on a core level through current attitudinal and values-based data.

Fill out the form to view a sample from our research presentation,  America Now: How We Have Changed Since 2020.

America Now

In a recent study, Collage Group asked Americans about the top three things they consider important to living a good life (such as good health, financial stability, healthy relationships, a job that they love, being well-educated, or experiencing new things). Our data shows that younger Americans tend to desire a more well-rounded lifestyle, spreading priorities across many of these areas of life. Older generations, by contrast, approach life more traditionally—strongly valuing health and finances while de-emphasizing other topics.

These generational differences can be partly explained by socio-historical context. Boomers and Gen Xers grew up during a time period where the ethos was the “American dream.” Hard work was—and still is—highly valued by them and viewed as a direct path to success.

Just decades later, Millennials and Gen Zers each came of age in a rapidly changing world with turbulent political and economic circumstances (Millennials, the 2008 recession; Gen Z, the COVID-19 pandemic). This upbringing tainted their worldview, calling the “American dream” into question entirely. In turn, younger generations cope with cynicism by taking on a “YOLO” (“you only live once”) attitude. They try to enjoy life while they can rather than wasting too much of their life working towards a version of success they’ll never attain.

While historical context explains a core part of each generation’s outlook on life, it doesn’t mean that people’s attitudes and values are locked in permanently. Times of massive change and uncertainty, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can be the spark for deep realignment of social values. We are already seeing this trend in our data.

For example, Gen X and Boomers, two generations that have historically valued more traditional life goals and prioritized work over happiness. When asked explicitly about how their personal and professional priorities changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two-thirds say that being happy and healthy is more important than it was a year prior. In fact, the data is on par with Gen Z and Millennials. This is evidence of values shifting and even converging across generations. Moreover, this data point indicates that wellness is a growing area of opportunity for the total market despite conventional wisdom that it’s a Gen Z and Millennial fad.

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America Now: Acculturation and Afro-Hispanic Identity

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America Now: Acculturation & Afro-Hispanic Identity

This research is part of a series that expands on our 2021 Roundtable Presentation, America Now. Read on to learn how acculturation and race impact Hispanic identity.

As more Americans embrace intersectional identities, you may be wondering what that means for the Hispanic population which is anything but monolithic. One of the most talked about intersections in recent years are Afro-Hispanics (sometimes referred to as Afro-Latinos), individuals with origins in Spanish speaking countries that identify as black or African American.

Fill out the form to view a sample from our research presentation,  America Now: How We Have Changed Since 2020.

America Now

According to recent data from the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of Hispanic adults self-describe as having darker skin. This proportion largely tracks with Collage Group’s data from September 2021, in which 22 percent of Hispanic respondents do not identify as “White” and about 12 percent identify as Black or African American.

Within this sub-set, Black Hispanics balance the importance of their racial identity and Hispanic heritage. Among respondents identifying as both Black and Hispanic, 45 percent – almost half – say their race is one of the most important components of the way they describe themselves. Just over half – 51 percent – say the same of their Hispanic or Latino heritage.

For these Black Hispanics, racial identity is important partially because they believe it puts them at a disadvantage in society. Pew finds that about 6 in 10 Hispanic adults agree that:

    • Having a darker skin color hurts Latinos’ ability to get ahead
    • Having a lighter skin color helps Latinos’ ability to get ahead
    • Skin colors shape their daily lives and experiences

Given these high numbers, and recent controversies over colorism in the casting in productions like In the Heights and Crazy Rich Asians, it’s essential for brands to recognize the importance of diversity within multicultural segments. And it’s clear that Afro-Hispanic Americans aren’t impressed with how they’re currently being portrayed.

While a slim majority of Hispanic Americans say they’re satisfied with how their ethnicity is portrayed in advertisements, most Black Americans are not, and even fewer Afro-Hispanic Americans say they like what they see when it comes to seeing themselves in ads. Further, Afro-Hispanics’ dissatisfaction with their portrayals in advertisements demonstrates the importance of telling diverse, culturally-nuanced stories in marketing content. Even though a brand may be working towards creating content more inclusive of Hispanic and Black consumers, that might not translate to intersectional identity segments of Americans.

Here are three suggestions for marketing to consumers who navigate between their Black and Hispanic identities:

    1. Don’t make them choose. Black and Hispanic identity are both salient for this segment, but many feel “forced to choose” between their identities. Reinforce the empowering idea that they can identify as both fully Black and Hispanic.
    2. Find country-of-origin intersections. Many Caribbean and Latin American communities are predominantly Black, challenging American conceptions of race and ethnicity. Tell stories from their perspective to ensure they feel authentically portrayed.
    3. Be inclusive of the overlap. Black Hispanics are just as much part of the Black community as they are the Hispanic community. Represent this segment and their needs in marketing to both Black and Hispanic consumers.
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Other Data Notes:

Among Biracial Hispanic/Black Americans, 58% say their race is important to their identity, while only 15% say their Hispanic/Latino heritage. Race is the most important identity consideration for this population, at 32%, and 13% say Hispanic/Latino heritage takes first spot.

Acculturation associates with increased importance of Ethnicity, lessened importance of race. Unacculturated/Bicultural Hispanics are MORE likely to say being Hispanic/Latino is important to them.

Gen X is most likely to say Hispanic/Latino heritage is the most important identity consideration (49%).

Source: Pew Research, “Majority of Latinos Say Skin Color Impacts Opportunity in America and Shapes Daily Life,” November 4, 2021

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America Now: Economic Inequality

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America Now: Economic Inequality

This research is part of a series that expands on our 2021 Roundtable Presentation, America Now. Read on to learn how Americans feel about income inequality in the United States today.

Income inequality is a significant issue in the United States today, especially for many non-White Americans. Data from the Federal Reserve shows that the top 10 percent of earners in the country hold almost 70 percent of the nation’s wealth. And findings from the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances reveal that White families’ median wealth ($188,200) is almost eight times that of Black families ($24,100) and five times that of Hispanic ($36,100) families. Brands and companies have an opportunity to connect with diverse America by understanding their perceptions on income inequality and taking steps to address the gap.

In a recent survey, we asked Americans how serious of a problem they feel economic inequality to be in the country today. While almost half of all Americans believe it’s a “serious problem”, Black and Hispanic Americans were much more likely to hold this belief. Non-Hispanic White respondents are clearly divided on this issue based on party affiliation – with 60% of White Democrats viewing it as a serious problem compared to only 26% of Republicans.

Multicultural Americans – Especially Black Americans – Are More Likely to See Economic Inquality as a Serious Problem in the Country

White Democrats Are Far More Likely than White Republicans to View it as Such

% of respondents who rated economic inequality in the country today as a very serious problem

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* White demographic breakdown: Democrat 60%, Republican 26%, Other 40%

Further, when asked what political and societal issues were most important to them in today’s climate, 27% of Black Americans named reducing economic inequality followed closely by Asian Americans (24%) and Hispanic Americans (22%). For White Americans, the percentage who listed reducing economic inequality as a top three priority issue, was far lower. However, far more White Democratic Americans listed it as a top issue.

Multicultural Americans Are Also More Likely than White Americans to Believe that Reducing Economic Inequality is Personally Important 

One reason may be the wealth gap between white American and black and Hispanic Americans. 

Reducing economic inequality is one of the three most important issues to me:

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* White demographic breakdown: Democrat 24%, Republican 8%, Other 14%

And it is not just that multicultural Americans are more sensitive to income inequality—they’re also more willing to reward brands that take active steps to reduce it. In fact, 40% of Asian Americans, 39% of Black Americans, and 34% of Hispanic Americans share this sentiment, compared to just 27% of White Americans. Again, White Democrats are more closely aligned to the multicultural segment – 43% of White Democrats are more likely to buy from brands who support reducing income inequality, compared to only 15% of White Republicans.

And They Are More Likely to Reward Brands that Step Up in this Space

White Democrats align closely to the Multicultural Segment in their preferences; 30% of Americans are more likely to buy from brands that support reducing income inequality.

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* White demographic breakdown: Democrat 43%, Republican 15%, Other 24%

Now you may be thinking, what can my brand do to address a systemic issue as challenging as income inequality? The answer: quite a lot! Below are some examples of what brands and companies are doing.
    • Costco, among other retailers, recently raised their minimum wage way above state and federal mandates. The move resulted in significant media attention.
    • Mastercard has launched the Center for Inclusive Growth ; their twitter page (@CNTR4growth), provides daily updates and insights for the public.
    • Noodles & Co teamed up with the app Even to offer instant pay options to their employees as well as a suite of financial wellness tools that include budgeting and organizational guidance.
Sources:
    • Federal Reserve Data. “Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S. Since 1989.” October 2021.
    • Federal Reserve Data. “Disparities in Wealth by Race and Ethnicity in the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances.” Sept 28, 2020.
    • ABC News. “Costco raises minimum wage to $17 an hour as businesses hike pay to retain workers.” October 28, 2021.
    • Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Mastercardcenter.org
    • Payments Dive. “Noodles & Co. teams with Even.com on financial wellness benefits.” September 16, 2019.

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America Now: Gen Z Women Key Issue – Sexism

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America Now: Gen Z Women Key Issue – Sexism

This research is part of a series that expands on our 2021 Roundtable Presentation, America Now. Read on to learn how Gen Z women stand out for their prioritization of reducing sexism.

2017 was a pivotal year for women in the U.S. The day after President Trump was inaugurated, millions of Americans across the U.S. participated in the largest single-day protest – The Women’s March – to support gender equality and protest the President’s anti-women statements. Later that year, the #MeToo movement gained momentum as more women broke their silence as survivors of sexual abuse and revealed the prevalence of sexual violence against women. With increased visibility on women’s issues, women have reported that their gender identity has become more important to them over the past few years. This is especially true of Gen Z women; 55% agree that their gender is now a more important aspect of their identity than it used to be. Brands can better engage with consumers by understanding how Americans’ identities shape their views on social and political issues, and what they expect from brands like yours in engaging with these issues.

In a recent study, Collage Group asked Americans what three social and political issues are most important to them and found that Gen Z women are unique in wanting to see the reduction of sexism in society. 33% of Gen Z women feel reducing sexism is one of the most important social or political issues today, compared to just 10% of Millennial women, 7% of Gen X women, and 3% of Boomer women.

Gen Z women’s perceptions on the importance of reducing sexism is even more pronounced when it comes to their support of brands. Over half of Gen Z women will reward brands that support reducing sexism. And while older women tend to prioritize other social and political issues over sexism, many are still more likely to support brands that will confront sexism.

Across generations, women want brands to address sexism by paying them equally to men for the same jobs and offering training for employees so they can identify sexism and combat it. Gen Z women, however, stand out from older women by wanting brands to address sexism in other ways too. Half of Gen Z women also want brands to hire women to leadership positions. And over one in four want brands to make public statements about sexism and donate money to organizations that work to reduce sexism.

Contact us to find out how you can access the full America Now report with these insights and much more.

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America Now: Younger LGBTQ+ Americans Have High Expectations for Brands

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America Now: Younger LGBTQ+ Americans Have High Expectations for Brands

This research is part of a series that expands on our 2021 Roundtable Presentation, America Now. Read on to learn more about LGBTQ+ consumers, their perspective on gender and sexual identities, and what they expect from brands like yours.

Brands can better engage with consumers by understanding how they view different aspects of their own identity. Race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, and gender are just a few of the many elements of a person’s identity impacting how people see themselves and shaping their expectations for brands. LGBTQ+ Americans, especially those who are younger, tell us that their sexuality is becoming an increasingly important aspect of their identity. As a result, brands have to step up their inclusive marketing practices and oftentimes that means deftly engaging with social and political issues.

In a recent survey, Collage Group asked people to choose the most important aspect of their identity. Personality came out on top, followed by race, and country of origin. Just 8 percent of LGBTQ+ people responded that sexuality is the most important aspect of their identity. However, the importance of sexual identity is on the rise for this segment. Over 50 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents agree that their sexuality has become an increasingly important part of their identity in recent years. This is especially true for those between the ages of 18 and 40 years old. Younger LGBTQ+ are also significantly more likely to say their sexuality plays an increasingly important role in their identity than older LGBTQ+ Americans.

Importance of Sexual Identity for LGBTQ+ People

As sexuality becomes a more important element in how LGBTQ+ see themselves, brands must improve their efforts to accurately represent sexuality and gender in advertising — especially when targeting younger and multicultural LGBTQ+ consumers. Only 39 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents say they’re satisfied with portrayals of their sexuality in advertising, significantly less than the approximately 53 percent of non-LGBTQ+ respondents who agree. Seeing their own sexual identity portrayed in advertising matters a lot to 42 percent of young LGBTQ+, significantly higher than older LGBTQ+ respondents. Similarly, for gender portrayals, over a third of all LGBTQ+ say it matters a lot to see advertisements with people of the same gender identity. Doing this comes with great benefits, as young LGBTQ+ are more likely to buy products and services from brands that challenge gender stereotypes in their advertisements.

LBTBQ+ Americans identify more with their sexuality

Beyond mere representation in advertising, LGBTQ+ consumers also desire to see brands engage in social and political issues impacting their community. About 40 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents agree that brands should focus on social and political issues even if they don’t directly relate to their products and services. 

Overall, most LGBTQ+ respondents prefer brands to get involved by educating consumers about LGBTQ+ rights and discrimination. However, young LGBTQ+ consumers would also like to see brands hire more LGBTQ+ in leadership positions and donate to LGBTQ+ causes.

America Now - LGBTQ and Identity - Collage Group

Contact us to find out how you can access the full America Now report with these insights and much more.

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