Fundamentals of Generational Marketing: Passion Points

Fundamentals of Generational Marketing: Passion Points

Passion Points are the activities and areas of life people are deeply interested in.

They are the “things” that people prioritize when spending their time, money, and attention. They are concrete expressions of culture. This research offers brands and marketers important insights to win over consumers from all generational cohorts.

Learn more in this download from our “Engage Gen Z and Millennial Passion Points” presentation.

Engage Gen Z and Millennial Passion Points

What matters most to Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z?

Our topline results show that consumers generally opt for TV and Movies, Music, and Food. Boomers and Gen Z consumers tend to have more fluctuations in their passions with higher peaks and lower valleys than Gen X and Millennials. Boomers are more likely to say they are interested in religion, while Gen Z over-indexes in music and games. Gen Xers often find themselves between Millennials and Boomers, such as their passion for traveling. 

Millennials, known for their love of new experiences, are significantly more interested in staying active than the older two generations.

Beyond these top-line results, we have much insight as to which generational cohorts over or under-index on various topics such as movies & tv shows, music, food and travel.

Here are four important data points from the study:

1. Movies & TV Shows

On the left, you see the favorite movie genres for the total population. Comedy and Action/Adventure are the overall winners. On the right, though, we see the responses of each generational cohort.

Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to prefer genres like horror (Gen Z), fantasy, and animation, including anime. Gen X and Boomers, however, are more likely to choose a drama, thriller, or science fiction option.

2. Music & Audio

Looking through the chart, you’ll see that the generations have distinct tastes in music genres – at least between older and younger generations. For the total population, Rock is most popular, with 42 percent of consumers saying it is in their top three music genres. But both younger generations under-index on rock music. Especially Gen Z, where only 25 percent say they choose rock. Gen Z and Millennials over-index on liking Hip-Hop and R&B and are more open to K-pop as well.

This is aligned with what we know about younger generations generally – they’re more racially and ethnically diverse, and this is reflected in their diverse music tastes as well.

3. Food

When it comes to food, one big question is whether American consumers consider themselves “foodies,” who prioritize taste and experiential eating, or “health nuts,” who prioritize nutrition and diets. 

Here, we see that more Americans consider themselves “Foodies” than “Health Nuts.”

We also see some interesting generational variation here.

On the left, we see that about half of Americans consider themselves “Foodies,” and that Millennials – at 61 percent – is more likely than all other generations to believe this.  And on the right, we see that less than a third of the total population considers themselves “health nuts.” Gen Z and Gen X consumers hold to that average, but the big differences lie between Millennials and Boomers. 

So far, we’ve seen a lot of trends hold to a younger vs older dichotomy, but when it comes to food-related identity, Millennials really stand out as being food-focused. Boomers are not as focused on considering themselves a foodie or a health nut. While most Americans call themselves “foodies,” Millennial Americans lead the “health nut” trend.

4. Travel

For many people, the main tossup is between domestic versus international travel.

On average at the total population level, consumers are pretty split between the two, but preference for domestic taking a slight lead.

However when we break the data down by generation, we see a pretty clear pattern amongst consumers. 

Younger people have a distinctly stronger desire to travel abroad – especially Gen Z, at 61%, they are significantly more likely than all other generations. Millennials are an even split. Older generations are where we see a stronger preference for domestic travel. Boomers are the most likely generation to prefer traveling within the US over traveling abroad – about three in four. Perhaps driven by a desire to stay closer to home.

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Principles for Engaging Younger, More Diverse Consumers: Deep Dive into Gen Z

Principles for Engaging Younger, More Diverse Consumers: Deep Dive into Gen Z
Understanding America’s Diverse Consumers

Gen Z, the generation born from 1997 to 2012, is one of America’s most influential consumer segments.

One in five Americans are part of this generation and it is the second largest: at 75.6 million people, Gen Z is only slightly smaller than the Millennial generation at 75.8 million. These younger consumers, now 8-to-23 years old, are highly invested in their beliefs and passions, and orient toward inclusion and diversity not seen in older generations.

How can you capture the growing influence and expenditure of this influential, younger consumer segment and earn their loyalty for years to come?

Understanding the unique characteristics of Gen Z Americans – from trends and experiences to expression and entertainment – can help you authentically engage. In April 2021, Collage Group’s Chief Product Officer David Evans explored key areas of our consumer fundamentals for Gen Z in this deep dive presentation hosted by the Insights Association.

Fill out the form to watch the full presentation and download an excerpt of the deck.

In the full presentation you’ll find a deep dive into Gen Z demographics and economic opportunity, identity-related marketing expectations, cultural traits and passion points. Read below for a five key insights into Gen Z consumers.

1. Gen Z is coming of age in an intrinsically diverse society, with multicultural consumers representing nearly half of all Gen Z Americans.

This generation is among the first in American history to be defined by the multicultural experience, and 27% of Gen Z are first- or second-generation Americans. You cannot appeal to Gen Z Americans without respecting their complex set of identities.

2. Younger generations, specifically Gen Z, are increasingly likely to identify as LGBTQ+.

This is an interesting phenomenon we identified in our research on consumer identity, which suggests that as society is more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, and people discover the myriad possible identities out there, young people are more willing to embrace their LGBTQ+ identities.

3. Gen Z is on track to be the most educated generation, but this comes at the steepest price in history.

Those entering collage now face approximately $37,650 in tuition and fees for attending a private, nonprofit four-year university.

The confluence of high levels of education, at a high cost, and the difficult economic and social realities of our current climate play into the cultural traits we’ve identified for Gen Z, specifically “pressured” and “skeptical”.

4. Gen Z has grown up in a period of unprecedented uncertainty, adding even more layers to the stresses of adolescence and young adulthood.

Most recently, amid pandemic, economic recession, political polarization and social justice movements, Gen Z has had a lot to bear within a very short span of time. Unsurprisingly, Gen Z is struggling to find balance between meeting others’ expectations and living their desired lives – and much more so than other generations.

5. Gen Z Americans see many challenges standing in the way of their futures that society has failed to address.

These young consumers tend not to trust many institutions and believe brands and corporations should play a role in addressing the problems they face.

Are you interested in learning more about Gen Z consumers and how to apply these insights to your campaigns?

Collage Group’s consumer research database now contains insights from hundreds of studies, thousands of questions and millions of data points on American consumers across ethnicity, generation, sexuality and gender. With more than 35 original studies released each year, you can dive deeper into the cultural traits, identity, passion points and more of Gen Z Americans, as well as other high-grow diverse consumers.

Through our Generations consumer research platform you can access to the insights you need to understand and engage the attitudes, behaviors and values of all generational segments: Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X and Boomer. Contact us to learn more.

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Five Essential Things To Know About Gen Z Consumers in 2021

Five Essential Things To Know About Gen Z Consumers in 2021

Want to better connect with Gen Z? Read on for 5 takeaways and a presentation centered on enhancing your brand's ability to authentically connect with the Gen Z generational cohort.

Collage Group’s Essentials of Gen Z consumers presentation explores three areas of our consumer fundamentals research for the generational: demographics and economic opportunity, identity related marketing expectations, and Cultural Traits. Read below for several takeaways and then fill out the form to download an excerpt of the study.

1. Gen Z (aged 8-24yrs old in 2021) are more diverse than older generations. In fact, Gen Z is on the doorstep of becoming a majority minority cohort; 49% of the generation are people of color. Gen Z’s intrinsic diversity equates to greater expectations for inclusive marketing practices.

2. Gen Z is also significantly more likely to identify as LGBTQ+ than older generations. The difference between older Millennials (31-39 yrs. old) and older Gen Z (18-23yrs old), alone, is sharp: almost twice as many older Gen Z Americans identify as LGBTQ+ than their Millennial counterparts.

3. New Wave generations – Gen Z and Millennials—are more likely to say they go out of their way to support inclusive brands. Gen Z were also the only generation that included looking for brands that support LGBTQ+ and racial justice in their top five priorities.

4. Gen Z is uniquely open about their sexuality. This is even significantly different from Millennials. 20% Gen Z claim their sexuality as a primary means of self-identification. That’s a stark break from previous generations, where sexual identity is more of a taboo subject.

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Four Group Traits That Best Characterize Millennial Consumers

Four Traits That Best Characterize Millennial Consumers

Our newly updated Millennial Cultural Traits provides powerful new insights into America’s largest generation and one of its most diverse.

One in five Americans are Millennials, the generation born from 1980 through 1996.

As of 2021, this segment is now ages 24-41, with the entire generation of working age, and many now entering parenthood. To capture the growing influence and expenditures of this consumer segment, brands and marketers must deepen their understanding of Millennials.

Which Group Traits best characterize Millennials?

The four Group Traits which best characterize the Millennial segment are AmbitionGo-with-the-Flow, Cosmopolitan, and Tuned-in.

1. Ambition

People sharing the Group Trait of Ambition are driven to succeed, and to focus on the necessary steps towards achieving their goals.

These individuals are most attuned to the future impacts of their daily choices, especially when they know what might make or break their grand aspirations.

Millennials are a generation that’s been dealt a heavy hand. They’ve now lived through not one, but two economic recessions. Many came of age in a poor job market in the late 2000s, stunting their career. And on top of it all, they face rising costs such as tuition, healthcare, and housing. These circumstances have necessitated a “sink or swim” attitude, and Millennials responded by acting towards securing a better future for themselves. They’re the most educated generation to date, they’re borderline “workaholic,” and they take their side hustles seriously – all in pursuit of security.

Although Hispanic Americans firmly believe in keeping and cultivating their cultural heritage, they have had to adapt culturally as immigrants and minorities. As a result, duality is their reality—they seamlessly navigate both worlds with a cultural fluidity that is easy and authentic.

Millennials are always on the grind, so it’s important to offer them ways to be more efficient – to get even more accomplished with less time or effort.

Position your brand as a resource to help them overcome obstacles and achieve success. Celebrate Millennials’ intense dedication, something they probably don’t hear enough amidst the “lazy” and “entitled” stereotypes. And finally, remind them it’s okay to take a break, practice self-care, and treat themselves.

2. Go-with-the-Flow

People sharing the Group Trait of Go-with-the-Flow feel a resilience and contentment towards life.

These individuals are more likely to express a “ce’est la vie” attitude towards their personal situations, accepting that their fates are largely out of their own hands.

Millennials are keenly aware of the twists and turns of life. While many grew up during the booming 80s and 90s, they’ve now experienced several decades of rapid and dramatic change including the 9/11 attacks, the Great Recession of 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing recession of 2020. Facing uncertainty is a defining factor of their lifetimes. These young Americans have learned to go with the flow of life and expect the unexpected. They’re resilient and take what life throws at them, while remaining staunchly optimistic.

At the core of it all, Millennials want empathy, so show sensitivity to their unique struggles.

Take a realistic tone when appealing to them. Encourage hope without discounting the realities of the world. And don’t be afraid to use humor to diffuse the tension – to them, this shows that you understand what they’re going through.

3. Cosmopolitan

People sharing the Group Trait of Cosmopolitan value spending time with people of diverse backgrounds and walks of life.

These individuals are more likely to seek out opportunities to engage with people from different cultural backgrounds than their own.

Millennials are an inherently diverse generation that craves novelty and wide-reaching experiences. Many Millennials seek to understand their own diverse heritage as a way to find meaning in a world that has proven unpredictable. And they welcome cultural and personal diversity in their social circles, hobbies, and activities as a way to experience the world in its full complexity.

There’s never been a better time to lean into diversity, and when you do, Millennials will be here for it!

Millennials are often known as the “experiences” generation, and much of what’s driving their thirst for adventure is a desire to experience other cultures. Whether through food, music, history, or more, give Millennials a reason to step outside the box of their everyday lives. Position your products as a way to learn about and experience other cultures.

4. Tuned-In

People sharing the Group Trait of Tuned-In want to keep up with the current cultural moment, especially when it comes to entertainment.

These individuals are more likely to seek out and participate in the latest of trends and popular culture, and to have little shame in going along with “mainstream” tastes.

Millennials—like previous generations their age—desire to be in-the-know when it comes to trends and pop culture. But unlike previous generations, Millennials grew up through the transition of unparalleled technological innovations, inciting a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and a need to keep up with their changing world. Along the way, technology offered them greater access to culture, trends, and news, spawning deep interests across a variety of topics.

Brands have ample opportunity to play in this space.

This can be as simple as building hype around brand or product news, even if it’s small, to give Millennials something to be excited about. Stay up to date on the pop culture trends Millennials are into so you can connect with them on topics they’re passionate about. And finally, repackage your content in multiple formats, like shows, podcasts, memes, and social media posts to reach Millennials through the multitude of channels they use to stay in-the-know.

Fill out the form below to learn how we can help your brand achieve Cultural Fluency.

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Four Group Traits That Best Characterize the Gen Z Consumer Segment

Four Group Traits That Best Characterize the Gen Z Consumer Segment

Our Gen Z Cultural Traits research provides powerful new insights into America’s youngest and still-emerging consumer demographic. Read on to discover the four essential traits you need to know about Gen Z consumers.

One in five Americans are members of Gen Z, the generation born from 1997 through 2012. As of 2020, this segment is now ages 8-23, with many now finishing their education and (attempting to) enter the workforce. To capture the growing influence and expenditures of this consumer segment, brands and marketers must deepen their understanding of Gen Z.

Download an excerpt from our presentation, Appeal to Gen Z Cultural Traits:

Across the last several years, Collage Group has been developing powerful new tools to help brands become more Culturally Fluent. Our Cultural Traits are central to this effort. These data-driven tools provide measures of cultural variation that reveal insights into the similarities and differences across consumer segments.

Which Group Traits best characterize the Gen Z segment?

The four Group Traits which best characterize the Gen Z segment are Pressured, Skeptical, Recognition-Seeking, and Self-Expression.

1. Pressured

People sharing the Group Trait of Pressured tend to feel overwhelmed by their many obligations.

A major source of tension with these individuals is balancing the expectations of achieving external measures of success with the desire to live life the way they truly want to.

Gen Z faces a variety of life-stage pressures which manifest in ways no generation has seen before. Family pressures can be rather intense in the face of households navigating multiple economic disasters in the span of only a decade. Social pressures are more pronounced in the age of social media, where “fitting in” requires constant participation in the editing and filtering of one’s everyday life. And pressures to succeed academically and in the workforce have just recently hit a major roadblock in the combined recession and social distancing of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amidst these pressures, it is important to remind Gen Z consumers that they need to take care of themselves. Despite “self-care” having youthful connotations, America’s youngest consumers are the least likely to prioritize their health – physical, mental, or otherwise. 

2. Skeptical

People sharing the Group Trait of Skeptical lack confidence in their own specific futures and life journeys. Not seeing much to be hopeful for in the world around them, these individuals are more likely to fear the worst and worry about whatever lies ahead.

From Gen Z’s perspective, it makes sense to be worried about the future. From the ever-looming existential threat of climate change to increasing awareness of racism, sexism, wealth inequality, and gun violence, much seems to stand in the way of young consumers living happy and fulfilling lives. Gen Z doesn’t have faith in many traditional institutions as they currently operate, and they are on the lookout for new and innovative solutions.

And Gen Z is very open to brands being part of these solutions. These young consumers are most likely to say that companies and organizations should play an active role in addressing social issues, even if there is no direct relation to their product or category. 

3. Recognition-Seeking

People sharing the Group Trait of Recognition-Seeking are proud of their accomplishments and want to receive external recognition for their good work. These consumers are therefore more receptive to positive reinforcement, through reminders of what they have already accomplished and what they still stand to achieve.

Amidst all of today’s challenges and uncertainties, Gen Z wants to know they are on the right track. Moreover, these young consumers know they will have to distinguish themselves to get ahead in an increasingly competitive and specialized workforce. As a result, Gen Z prizes being perceived as intelligent, interesting, and successful at what they do.

But these young consumers also recognize the essential contributions others have had in their success. In the digital age, there is a growing awareness of reliance on shared platforms for educational, professional, and personal achievement. 

4. Self-Expression

People sharing the Group Trait of Self-Expression have talent and creative potential they can’t wait to share with the world. These individuals know they have something special to offer, and they are therefore more likely to take whatever opportunities they can find to broadcast their craft and artistry.

For Gen Z, Self-Expression is an important means of exploring and refining their individual senses of identity. Gen Z is more likely than any other generation to describe themselves to others based on their hobbies and special interests. Expressing these interests through creative outlets – including social media – is therefore a more personal affair than it might be for older consumers. Brands have ample opportunity, then, to facilitate Gen Z’s exploration and expression of identity.

Fill out the form below to learn how we can help your brand achieve Cultural Fluency.

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The Self-Aware Generation: How Gen Z Consumers Choose to Self-Identify

The Self-Aware Generation: How Gen Z Consumers Choose to Self-Identify

From sexuality to star signs, Gen Z self-identifies in more ways than older consumers. Here’s what brands need to know to activate on the many ways America’s youngest consumers self-identify.

Gen Z has grown up in an increasingly diverse and polarized America. At the same time, social media continues to generate new universes of micro-communities, each creating new ways to self-identify. As a result, these young consumers embrace more and more what makes them different, as individuals, rather than what makes them the same as everyone around them.

Given the vast landscape of identities open to Gen Z, it is essential for brands to understand what, if anything, these young consumers do hold in common. Here are some key insights to get you started:

1. Gen Z is the most self-aware of its status as a “generation”.

All individuals born from 1997 through 2012 can claim membership in Generation Z. which follows Generation Y, or the “Millennial” Generation. While there is not yet final consensus on whether Gen Z will receive such a title, we see tremendous interest within the generation in using whatever words are available for self-identification. Almost half of Gen Z consumers use their generational identity to describe themselves to others, with statistically significant differences from each of the other generational segments. With phrases like “ok boomer” and “zoomer humor” ever-present in the Gen Z lexicon, generational identity is very real for these youngest of adult consumers.

2. Gen Z is most likely to think sexuality is important to identity.

Today’s young consumers live in a world which not only accepts sexual identity, but also encourages individuals to celebrate and explore their own sexualityGen Z is the most likely generation to identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. And 1 in 5 Gen Z consumers say that sexuality is one of the most important aspects of their identities for self-description, with statistically significant differences from each of the other generational segments. Understanding the LGBTQ+ segment will only increase in importance for brands hoping to earn market share with this segment.

3. Gen Z continues the Millennial trend of embracing “alternative” sources of identity – astrology included!

While they’re not likely to be checking the morning papers for their daily horoscopes, roughly 2 in 5 Gen Z and Millennial consumers leverage the Western zodiac as a tool for self-identification. Apps and online resources allow consumers to gain hyper-personalized “insight” into their astrological identities through star charts and compatibility analysis with contacts who also use the same platforms. Additionally, the Gen Z meme ecosystem provides (often humorous) content which reinforces associations between star signs and individual personality. These webs of association also offer plenty of space for brands to make connections with their product offerings.

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Collage Group Puts Brands and Ads at the Center of Membership in 2020

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Collage Group 2020: Putting Brands & Ads at the Center of Membership
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Three factors are leading us to change our research model to put your category, brands and ads at the center of everything we do.

Learn more about our 2020 research agenda and how our syndicated research platform can help you save money and time.

Factor 1. Every Brand Now Faces Three Moments of Truth with Multicultural America

When it comes to high likelihood that your next consumer is multicultural, ask yourself these questions. 

Do you really understand this consumer?  Do you understand her category-specific motivations, behaviors and needs?  And finally, are you activating with culturally fluent brand equities that drive cross-over appeal?

Factor 2: The Rise of the “New Wave,” The First Generation That is Intrinsically Diverse

We recognize that the evolving population dynamic in America has now firmly placed multicultural at the center of all marketing. It’s not just that Multicultural is big, it’s that Multicultural influences all other demographics.

This is especially true for the generation of Americans between 18-39, which we call the “New Wave.”  This generation is the first to grow up in what we call an intrinsically diverse environment.  While far more diverse, the New Wave share an orientation toward inclusion and diversity not seen in older generations.

And they are now rapidly increasing their spend.

Factor 3: The Cultural Fluency Imperative

Our mission is to help our members increase Cultural Fluency, not just better target specific ethnic segments.  Cultural Fluency is the ability to use culture to connect effectively and efficiently across segments.

We have therefore now invested heavily to offer three new research initiatives that place category, brands, and ads at the center of everything we do.

The Category Essentials: Insights into How Diverse America Views Your Category

With our sharp understanding of cultural variation at the category level, we can reveal distinctive behaviors, motivations, and usage patterns that arise due to culture.

We will extend the reach of our cultural attributes and group traits methodology to help brands better understand the efficiencies and opportunities that stem from putting culture at the center.

“CultureRate:Ad and CultureRate:Brand:” Measuring the Cultural Fluency of Your Ads and Brands

Our vision is to build a database that measures the Cultural Fluency of both our member’s brands, their advertising and their category peers.

By building a database on the Cultural Fluency of America’s leading brands and ads we hope to motivate more inclusive advertising that drives up Cultural Fluency across every category. Using CultureRate:Ad and CultureRate:Brand to measure performance is a critical first step to Cultural Fluency.

Cultural Fluency Solutions

Finally we recognize that even this new level of detail about your categories, brands and ads will not answer all your questions, nor should it. For this reason, we are upgrading our entire suite of custom engagements to put cultural fluency at the center, to extend the authenticity and impact of all your marketing.

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Amplify Word-of-Mouth Impact in the New Wave

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Amplify Word-of-Mouth Impact in the New Wave
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The New Wave—the young, diverse segment of Americans aged 18 to 39—value word-of-mouth and engage it more than older Americans. In this study, we share two steps and five tactics that brands should leverage to drive word-of-mouth in this segment.
As part of our 2019 Roundtable research, we took a deep dive to understand what drives word-of-mouth influence in the New Wave, the young, diverse segment of Americans aged 18 to 39. We found that New Wavers are much more likely to rely on word-of-mouth when seeking out new products than their older counterparts. And it’s become an expectation and necessary step on the path-to-purchase for many of these young, diverse consumers.

Learn about our 2020 research agenda and how access to our syndicated research platform can help your brand connect with the New Wave.

The New Wave is also more likely to engage in word-of-mouth—both online and offline! This is good news for brands—it means you don’t have to work as hard to get these people sharing. The challenge, of course, is making sure that when they share it’s about your brand, and that sentiment is positive.

Our 2019 Roundtable research provides two steps to keep you top-of-mind and at the center of discussion.

  1. The first step is to quantify influence so you can identify the most influential segments in the new wave. We employ two methods to help you quantify influence and identify segments to target. The first uses factor analysis to identify the segments most likely to exhibit attitudes and behaviors related to word-of-mouth.  The second uses an ego-based social network analysis to understand how far influence is likely to spread given the makeup of each segment’s social networks.

  2. The second step is to activate the New wave to share. We provide two tactics to help you amplify word of mouth in the most influential New Wave segments and three tactics to drive word-of-mouth across all New Wavers.

Download the attached PowerPoint deck for insights and executional examples to help you harness the influence power of the New Wave.

If you are interested in joining peer-to-peer calls with non-competitive members to share insights and discuss strategies to manage this issue, exploring custom qualitative or quantitative research for your brand or category, or having an initial conversation with our consulting team about methods to deal with this topic, please fill out the form below. 

Read more about the new wave

Principles for Engaging Younger, More Diverse Consumers: Deep Dive into Gen Z

One in five Americans are part of this generation and it is the second largest: at 75.6 million people, Gen Z is only slightly smaller than the Millennial generation at 75.8 million. Read on the learn why these younger consumers, now 8-to-23 years old, are highly invested in their beliefs and passions, and orient toward inclusion and diversity not seen in older generations.

Superbowl LIV Halftime Proves Brands Can Use Hispanic Culture to Win the General Market

Superbowl LIV Halftime Proves Brands Can Use Hispanic Culture to Win the General Market
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Our post-Superbowl survey on the halftime show found that Hispanic, Black, and White consumers in the “New Wave” (ages 18-39) are receptive to Hispanic culture and messaging. This data further supports our claim that brands can win across this segment with a multicultural message.

Learn how these insights can be applied to your brand.

“I don’t know what [NFL commissioner] Goodell was thinking,” confided a colleague after reflecting on the Superbowl LIV halftime extravaganza featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. “Frankly, I’m shocked he signed off on that thing.”

Google “super bowl halftime controversy 2020” and you’ll get over six million results.  It seems a lot of people shared my friend’s view that Roger Goodell’s decision to feature the Latina superstars was suspect. But many more would likely champion the decision based on the massive positive press around JLo’s celebration of Puerto Rico, Shakira’s nod to her middle eastern heritage, and of course the spike in both artists’ record sales and online streams.

But anecdotal evidence only provides limited insight. To really understand what consumers thought about this culturally charged event, brands need data. So, we fielded a survey to 284 Hispanic, Black, and White consumers age 18-39.  We call this segment the “New Wave,” defined by an experience of growing up in an intrinsically diverse America. The findings from this survey and what they mean for brands are below.

First, and most importantly, the New Wave was exceptionally positive about the halftime show. In fact, almost 80% or more of each segment said they enjoyed the show.

When asked what they liked most, respondents repeatedly mentioned Latinas and Latin culture, as you see in the quotes below.  If Goodell’s intent was to ensure the NFL’s relevance to the 25 million Hispanic NFL fans who are part of America’s fastest growing demographic, then his decision to celebrate Hispanic culture and its growing influence on America was a no-brainer.

Second, almost 70% of women surveyed thought the halftime show empowered women. 23% of White women felt the show objectified women, while less than half that percentage of Hispanic and Black women felt the same. One caveat: Unacculturated Hispanics were slightly more likely (21%) to think the show objectified women.

Third, over 80% of Hispanics thought the show represented Hispanic culture well. And 60% of these individuals also agreed that it represented American culture well. What’s really interesting is that non-Hispanic segments were even more likely to hold this view. Over 80% of the Black respondents and 62% of the White respondents who thought the show represented Hispanic culture well also thought the show represented American culture well. These data reveal that a majority of people can view something as both strongly Hispanic and strongly American – these are not trade-offs.  And you don’t even have to be Hispanic to hold that view.

Our data indicate that the vast majority of the New Wave—18-39 year old Americans—did not find the show particularly controversial and were thrilled about the inclusion of superstar Latinas. This finding is further evidence that brands looking to take the next big step in marketing, which is to lead with multicultural, will be well-positioned to win with the New Wave. Your brand should follow the evidence and lean into the multicultural space to ensure you capture your share of this segment’s attention and loyalty.

Diverse Representation in Ads Is Not Enough to Win The “New Wave” of Diverse, Young Americans

Diverse Representation in Ads Is Not Enough to Win The “New Wave” of Diverse, Young Americans
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Across 2019, we analyzed almost 150 ads, gathering almost 100,000 surveys and 20 million datapoints. Using this data, we developed the Cultural Fluency Quotient, a new metric to predict brand favorability and purchase intent, and ran machine learning on the data to derive powerful new insights into what matters for every demographic.  Read on for critical insights into the creative strategy you need to win the New Wave.

Access the Presentation 

Keys to Culturally Fluent Creative for the New Wave

In a climate of increasing tribalism exacerbated by social media polarization, advertisers must appeal to the most complex mix of demographics in American history while steering clear of unintended backlash.  Every quarter has its walk of shame for one or more brands, most recently Peloton for its widely reviled holiday commercial “The Gift that Gives Back” that tanked the stock by over 10% in early December 2019.

As many members know, we have been building a capability we call CultureRate:Ad leveraging a database of consumer response to ads. Across the last 18 months, we have been conducting research based on a new way of looking at brand favorability called Groundswell and Backlash, and applied machine learning to reveal powerful insights into how people from different cultural backgrounds process ads.

As the database grows, our ability to derive deeper insights and develop more predictive metrics increases.  For this study we developed the Cultural Fluency Quotient (CFQ), a weighted combination of three factors that best predict post-view brand favorability and purchase intent, which is then indexed for each demographic.  We ranked ads on CFQ for each demographic and ran machine learning on the top and bottom performing ads to derive the factors that best predict both high Cultural Fluency and what to avoid.

One key insight here is to go beyond performance norms.  We therefore also look at how important a norm is to high CFQ.  After all, it makes no sense to focus overly on how well an ad’s visuals perform (for example), if visuals are not a driver of cultural fluency.  For this reason, we use our machine learning results to derive importance scores an dozens of attributes of ads.  We then plot the results on a 2×2, as shown below.  The winning ads do well (horizontal axis) on what matters (vertical axis).

When we run the numbers, the findings are similar for every demographic. The best ads tell a simple story using ONE multicultural perspective, with attention to authentic texture.  These ads avoid the trap of representing every demographic at once, and ensure the viewer is not confused by the relationship between the product and the story.

The top two insights from this analysis imply:

  • It’s Not Just Casting: Creating common ground is not just “representation.”  You see that in the chart below that People & Characters are not as important as Story and Message. Diverse representation is necessary but it’s only price of entry.

  • The Story is Everything: Storytelling is by far the most impactful way to build cultural relevance. No story, no cultural fluency.

Few ads better exemplify this point than US Banks “Hard Work Works: Flying Home.”