America’s youth, the first multicultural majority generation in U.S. history, is growing rapidly, adding over 2.3 million consumers (about twice the population of New Hampshire) to the population each year, making them a significant force to be reckoned with. These "mini-millennials” challenge brands to address societal stereotypes, particularly around gender identity, and use their influence to support or disapprove of brands’ diversity and inclusion efforts.
In our first report on diversity and inclusion last year, we analyzed consumer reactions to companies' public declarations of support for social justice in 2020. In our latest wave of ThinkNow Diversity & Inclusion: Brands and Consumer Purchase Intent, we find differences in perceptions and expectations among key demographic groups compared to last year’s report.
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As in 2021, most U.S. consumers equate diversity and inclusion with ‘racial equality.’ Among LGBTQIA consumers, however, 70% consider ‘LGBTQIA equality’ a stronger representation of D&I. Youth are more likely to see ‘gender equality’ as an example of diversity and inclusion.
African American and Hispanic respondents are the most likely to support a company that makes a public commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives, which differs significantly from non-Hispanic Whites. This metric has held steady over the past twelve months as black and brown audiences, galvanized by the events of 2020, seek out brands that “understand the assignment.”
Consumers who support inclusive brands do so in various ways, but the extent to which they do it has shifted. Overall, we’ve seen a slip in the percentage of consumers willing to share their support on social media. The polarity of the platforms is likely driving this drop. However, there’s been an increase in those willing to spend more money at these stores or go out of their way to shop there – even if they’ve never done so in the past.
We did see a dip in the percentage of consumers willing to break up with their favorite brands if they don’t step up.
At the micro-level, non-Hispanic Whites are more likely to say that they would share their support on social media. Compared to a year ago, fewer Hispanics would share on social media, but more would go out of their way to support a store they had never frequented.
The number of African Americans willing to spend more money at a store that publicly supports diversity and inclusion significantly increased from 2021 to 2022. In 2022, this segment is more likely than other segments to be willing to spend at least 50% more at these stores.
While Millennials have become less likely to spend at least 50% more at stores that show a commitment to diversity and inclusion, Gen Z, on the other hand, has become more likely.
While it may not be making headlines or spilling out into the streets, consumer expectations for more diverse and inclusive brands are holding steady, driven by America’s youth. From race to ability, sexual orientation to gender, consumers want to see themselves represented authentically and sincerely by companies and brands.
A brand’s ability to do that impacts consumer sentiment and purchase behavior. Brands unwilling to step up run the risk of alienating consumer groups and the spending power at their disposal.
To see additional insights, download the 2022 ThinkNow Diversity & Inclusion: Brands and Consumer Purchase Intent Report today.