Companies en masse stepped up in 2020 decrying racism in America. But have those public declarations resulted in systemic changes in their diversity and inclusion practices, and how are consumers responding to those changes? To answer that question, ThinkNow conducted a nationally representative survey of Americans to understand the impact of companies that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion and how consumers voice their approval or disapproval of those companies with their wallets.
This past year, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked discussions around racism and inequality in America, prompting calls for social justice. Social injustice, however, is not limited to the inexcusable deaths of unarmed black and brown Americans. Disparities in financial resources also poke holes in the American Dream and keep many Americans struggling to get above the poverty line. While exploring the ThinkNow ConneKt platform, we discovered the LGBTQ+ community is a victim of financial inequality.
It’s Pride Month! Every year, in June, LGBTQIA+ communities worldwide celebrate the freedom to be authentically and unapologetically who they are. City streets erupt in festive expressions of Pride as enthusiastic, and often costumed patrons attend parades, concerts, and festivals decorated with brightly colored rainbow flags, streamers, and confetti. But the celebration doesn’t just bring people together for a good party. Instead, it shines a light on an underrepresented community, like other minority groups, who have struggled to be seen, heard, and included for generations.
Humans, in general, use metaphors to assign meaning to various aspects of our lives. By creating images in our minds, we make sense of the world around us and form associations that guide our behavior. Those associations can be aspirational, pushing us to pursue a certain status, or protective, warning us to steer clear of perceived danger. Understanding those associations is essential for marketers to activate consumer groups and deliver engaging content that meets them where they are. To do this, marketers can look to metaphoric research to analyze deep metaphors shaping the human psyche.
U.S. consumers adjusted their expectations last year as COVID-19, social injustice, and contentious presidential and senatorial races sent the country into a tailspin. Given the unprecedented disruption, the findings of our sixth annual ThinkNow Pulse™ Report, a national survey examining consumer sentiment across key demographics in the U.S., are especially relevant as marketers scramble to get a pulse on the post-pandemic consumer. Fielded in December 2020, Americans report worsened personal finances and a perception of a weakening economy, and the outlook for 2021 didn’t fare much better.
In what seems like a lifetime ago, we began the year full of ambition and resolve because 2020 represented more than a flip of the calendar. In pun worthy comparison, 2020 or “20/20” was supposed to be the year of great vision and clarity. We energized our sales teams with it and redirected our strategic plans. But now, just a month away from year-end, we realize that the clarity we sought didn’t elude us. We clashed with it violently in the streets and on the front lines. The past few months have been some of the most polarizing in recent history. A global pandemic decimated the economy, and the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd sparked a worldwide outcry for social justice.
At 13% of the U.S. population, Black Americans are key drivers of mainstream cultural trends. From music to sports, fashion, and the latest Tik Tok dances, the influence of Black American culture is evident in almost every facet of daily American life. But unlike other multicultural groups, African Americans are often still treated as a monolith by marketers. Faulty sampling methods and inadequate segmentation give marketers an inaccurate view of the Black American experience. And while social justice movements have pushed the needle of change forward for D&I initiatives, the complexities and nuances of Black American subculture are still widely misunderstood.
For many of us, our ideals and attitudes about who we are as individuals are shaped by our heritage and cultural experiences. As consumers, our affinity for certain brands pass through these filters resulting in purchase behaviors that tie back to our beliefs and how we see ourselves. Among multicultural audiences, this presents a unique challenge for marketers. There is no one size fits all solution to gaining buy-in from this diverse group. U.S. Hispanics hail from over 20 countries of origin, and Asian Americans, 40 countries. Understanding the importance of identity to multicultural audiences is essential to mitigating cultural bias in your marketing campaign strategy and delivering culturally relevant advertising.
Multicultural audiences are significantly driving mainstream identity and influencing emerging trends. According to UM’s Annual Cultural Dimension study, two out of five general population consumers indicate being influenced by Latino, Black, and Asian segments when it comes to passion points like music, fashion, hair care, food, sports, and more. As consumer behavior shifts in response to cultural identity and increased exposure to cultural norms via the internet and social media, brands work overtime to cultivate relationships steeped in the remix culture, which is primarily defined by a mindset, not the consumer. This paradigm shift is changing the fabric of what we know today as American culture.
From search to content consumption, purchase to advocacy, Hispanic consumers take a unique collective approach to e-commerce. The ethos of this collectivist culture greatly influences brand experience and purchasing behavior. Hispanic consumers conduct searches to assist spouses, friends and family members, both inside and outside their household. Marketers and advertisers need to learn how to better engage the “digital Sherpas” within Hispanic communities. To guide us, Maria Twena, Global Head of Consumer X at 9th Wonder Agency, returns to the New Mainstream podcast to discuss new research conducted by ThinkNow and 9th Wonder Agency on the dynamics of Latinx purchase behavior, including their online shopping habits – from the digital touchpoints they choose to the products they buy and their collective spend – and what it takes to facilitate brand fandom.