Why Culture Matters
How Race & Ethnicity, Generation, and Gender & Sexuality Impact Culture
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No marketer can be successful in the United States now without an understanding of the cultural transformation of the American consumer.
Between 2013 and 2018, the US multicultural population drove over 100% of the country’s growth. That population also drove 75% of spending growth, adding about $487 billion, almost equivalent to the total GDP of Maryland.
Understanding how to navigate this cultural transformation is challenging, even for the most seasoned and culturally aware brands.
Understanding culture begins by respecting its roots in race and ethnicity.
Individuals inescapably inherit a racial and ethnic culture at birth. The “strength” of the inherited culture (i.e., how closely it is connected to a specific racial and ethnic background) depends on childhood experience. America has long been unusual for its emphasis on assimilation into a mainstream, but this force has diminished considerably. Retained and even re-acquired cultural affiliation with racial and ethnic origins is now playing a larger and larger role in consumer identity.
But race and ethnicity are only the starting point. Cultures evolve through generational change.
Generational factors augment–if not transform–the inherited culture, which is then passed on to offspring.
The output of this process is an ever-changing cultural milieu that is driven by the interplay of racial, ethnic, and generational factors that generate new unexpected new identities and cultural forces.
Culture, Gender and Sexuality
Cultures also evolve through forces encompassing far more than than what has been defined by the historical choices of heterosexual men.
All cultures have been driven by the unique experiences of those individuals who historically have been on the margins of power regardless of race, ethnicity and age: women and members of the LGBTQ community.
These two segments each distinctly drive a complementary set of trends that profoundly influence all consumers in the general market, whether in fashion, music, entertainment, where and how to live and at all stages of life.