100% electric vehicles are fantastic. They’re zippy, require less maintenance, save money on gas and are generally pretty cool. Given these attributes, it might seem logical to assume that every new car buyer would opt for an electric vehicle (EV). Yet only 5.8% of vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2022 were electric, and 94.2% of brand-new cars sold last year were not. Why?
As part of our Sustainability Study released in April 2023, ThinkNow conducted a nationally representative quantitative survey of 2,050 Americans and probed their reasons for buying or rejecting EVs. Here is what we found:
Cost is the single largest barrier to EV adoption. The lowest cost internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle currently on the market has an MSRP of $17,650. Over two dozen ICE vehicles are available for under $25,000. Meanwhile, General Motors announced that it was discontinuing the lowest-cost EV on the market, the Chevy Bolt (MSRP $25,600), in favor of producing higher profit-margin pickup trucks. Tax credits for EV purchases help, but they're limited to U.S. produced vehicles, and the low-cost options on that list are scarce. For EV adoption to take off, it has to be accessible to all car buyers, not just high-earning early adopters.
After price, charging is the next big barrier to purchasing EVs. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they wouldn't purchase an EV because they do not have charging available at home or work. This aligns with the 36% of American households living in rental properties less likely to have on-site charging than single-family homes. Public charging is part of the solution, but the availability of public charging varies considerably by city and state. Even in states with relatively high levels of EV penetration, like California, there are cities without a single non-Tesla public charging station (I'm looking at you Mammoth Lakes, CA). The U.S. currently has 56,256 charging stations with around 147,700 individual charging ports. Still, McKinsey & Company estimates that if the U.S. wants to reach the goal outlined in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recommending that 50% of all vehicles sold yearly be zero-emission by 2030, it will likely need 1.2 million public and 28 million private EV charging stations. It's important to note that this number falls short of what is required for achieving 100% EV adoption.
The following three barriers to EV adoption in our survey were "I don't know enough about them," "They take too long to charge" and "I don't think they're good for the environment." These three issues can be countered by better communicating the benefits. EV owners spend a lot less time charging their vehicles than people spend at gas stations. Most non-EV owners don't realize EVs typically charge overnight 2-3 times a week. Plugging and unplugging an EV takes less than 30 seconds. So EV owners spend fewer weekly minutes physically charging than ICE vehicle owners spend standing in front of gas pumps.
EVs are also unequivocally better for the environment than gas-powered vehicles. Most arguments suggesting otherwise are premised on faulty assumptions. One argument states that the electricity produced to charge EVs is worse for the environment than gasoline. While coal is still responsible for about 20% of U.S. power production, it is rapidly being replaced by wind and solar. Even accounting for current coal and natural gas-powered electricity emissions, research shows that an EV is typically responsible for lower levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) than an average new gasoline car. Battery manufacturing is also frequently cited as being bad for the environment because it takes energy to mine Lithium and manufacture batteries. Here's a comparison of a typical gas-powered car's lifetime greenhouse gas emissions and a 300-mile range EV.
Perceptions of EVs also vary by generation and ethnicity. Communication campaigns must address knowledge gaps within multicultural segments to ensure the successful adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). These communities may have limited exposure to information about EVs compared to other racial groups. For instance, our multicultural research indicates that Asian Americans, in particular, are more prone to experiencing range anxiety compared to other groups which may make them less likely to adopt EVs.
Making EVs more affordable and expanding charging infrastructure will help accelerate the transition to a greener transportation system. Clear and accurate communication about EV charging times and their environmental benefits is also essential in dispelling misconceptions and encouraging broader acceptance.
Policies must consider that renters and people of all income levels and ethnicities buy cars. EVs can't be playthings for the well-to-do and pipe dreams for everyone else. Addressing these challenges and promoting EV adoption is crucial for achieving the sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation system the U.S. and the world needs.
Implementing a multicultural marketing strategy is one of the most impactful ways brands can tap into the new mainstream. The U.S. consumer market is speeding toward a multicultural majority. Marketers are tasked with gaining a deeper understanding of these diverse consumer segments and crafting messaging that appeals to them and motivates them to action. Hispanics comprise the largest ethnic group, while Asian Americans account for about 7% of the U.S. population. Among them, Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese and Korean are the largest groups.
But marketing to Asian American consumers can be challenging for some marketers, as two-thirds of this group are foreign-born. This demographic difference means their motivations, preferences, and purchasing behavior may differ significantly from their U.S.-born counterparts. Similarly, researchers must be mindful of these differences when conducting consumer surveys and providing insights to marketers, as insights that apply to U.S.-born Asian Americans may not apply to foreign-born Asians.
In general, online sample providers have not kept pace with the consumer market's changing dynamics to the same extent as they have done to reduce fraud in the industry. Many researchers recruit survey respondents in English only from the general market, resulting in a lack of representation of diverse consumers on panels and low incidence rates.
On this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Iris Yim, Principal and Chief Strategist at Sparkle Insights and Board Member and Vice President of the Asian American Advertising Federation, delves into the mechanics of effectively engaging Asian American survey respondents and the impact it has on multicultural marketing.
Meet Iris Yim:
Iris is a seasoned researcher well versed in both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Her experience in research across different industries and cultural segments makes her a versatile researcher that approaches research in a holistic and innovative way to solve clients’ business problems and uncover insights.
The types of studies Iris have conducted include market opportunity assessments, customer satisfaction, attitude and awareness, ad testing, positioning, segmentation and new product development. She has experience in a wide range of industries including CPG, travel and leisure, financial services, automotive, and healthcare.
Iris is the Research Chair of the Asian American Advertising Federation and serves on the Supplier Diversity Committee of the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, affiliated with Association of National Advertisers. She is an alumna of the RIVA Training Institute and holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in public relations from the University of Southern California.
The racial reckoning of 2020 brought diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront, although the concept itself is not new. Unfortunately, many brands have taken advantage of this movement for their benefit, resulting in broken promises and hollow commitments that have undermined their reputation. However, for brands like LVMH, there is an urgent need to approach DEI with genuine commitment and intentionality, actively embracing cultural differences to enhance the employee experience and drive business results.
For Benefit Cosmetics, an LVMH brand, DEI expands beyond human resources to developing inclusive products and other elements that impact all facets of the organization. This culture shift is important as the U.S. consumer market becomes increasingly diverse, blurring the lines between DEI and multicultural marketing.
Implementing DEI is not only the right thing to do from a moral standpoint but is also a savvy business move. Brands that fail to tap into the purchasing power of diverse communities, particularly Black and Hispanic consumers, are missing out on a significant opportunity.
Yet, the beauty industry still lacks a broad spectrum of cosmetics that cater to the diversity within these groups. It's essential to look beyond race and gender and start meaningful conversations around other dimensions of diversity, such as ability and sexual orientation. Brands have a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the barriers that underrepresented groups face and use their privilege to empower them.
Mia Talavera, Director of Global Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Benefit Cosmetics (LVMH), stops by The New Mainstream podcast to share her insights on the urgent need for genuine commitment and intentionality concerning DEI at the organizational and product levels.
Meet Our Guest:
Mia Talavera is a high-performing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader passionate about inspiring positive culture change by designing and driving global DE&I strategies to promote and advance inclusion in the workplace. Mia has advised and consulted organizational leaders across various industries on leveraging innovative DEI initiatives, most recently driving real change within the beauty sector with Benefit Cosmetics.
Mia is the Director of Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Benefit Cosmetics (LVMH). She is also a certified Unconscious Bias Facilitator and earned a Bachelor's Business Degree and D&I certification from Yale Business School of Management.
Consumption has changed since the pandemic, as consumers consider their lifestyles more deeply. Companies and brands are following suit, studying how their actions, systems, and beliefs impact the consumer dynamic and striving to be more inclusive in their marketing and advertising. However, not all consumers feel seen.
Latinx consumers in the U.S. are not a homogenous group. Marketers are accustomed to segmenting these groups by factors like country of origin but often overlook the biculturalism that exists among niche groups, like Latinx consumers of Asian descent who immigrated from Latin America to the States in the past few decades.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Silvia Li Sam, founder of Slam Media Lab (Slam), talks about her experience as a Peruvian Chinese American and how marketers must leverage research to understand the complexities of the Latinx consumer market.
About Silvia Li Sam:
Silvia Li Sam is a Peruvian Chinese American founder, published writer, and expert on content marketing, web design, and SEO.
Li Sam was one of the youngest CEOs to start a multi-million dollar agency during the Great Resignation of 2021. Her award-winning agency, Slam Media Lab (Slam), focuses on SEO, Webflow, content marketing, and brand strategy for founder-led and mission-driven companies.
Before starting Slam, Li Sam was the first hire for digital & SEO at the XQ, the nation’s leading organization rethinking America’s high schools started by Laurene Powell Jobs. She scaled XQ’s marketing efforts from 0 to over 650,000 members in 3 years, and skyrocketed their SEO from 0 to 2MM searches. Li Sam has led multi-million dollar advertising and branding campaigns, managed and executed partnerships with all social media platforms, and led two successful TV shows (Graduate Together & XQ Super School Live) on the four major networks. The shows have reached over 2B people.
Li Sam is known for starting one of the largest startup publications in the world in three months, growing it from 0 to 250,000 readers with no budget.
Her work has been nominated for Webby and Peabody awards. Li Sam’s marketing strategies have been featured on Forbes, The Huffington Post, NBC, and more.
She is a Board Member at Wild Awake, a nonprofit that provides immersive outdoor learning experiences for youth and adults that bring us closer to the earth. She also serves as a tech and marketing advisor to two tech-focused nonprofits: Peer Health Exchange and LTX Connect.
Li Sam holds a B.S. in Business & Marketing with a minor in design from the University of Southern California.
She lives in the East Bay with her partner and her labradoodle and frequently bounces between San Francisco, Lima, Honolulu, Los Angeles, and New York.
The 2022 World Cup is scheduled to run from November 20th till December 18th. The tournament was moved from its usual June/July slot because of the intense summer heat in host-country Qatar. The temperature, however, is not the only heat surrounding the tournament. Human rights abuses by the firms building the stadiums and infrastructure to host the event have gotten as much, if not more, coverage than the qualifying matches that lead up to the tournament. Qatar's laws against homosexuality are also creating tension at a time when World Soccer is trying to become more inclusive.
These controversies, however, do not appear to have diminished fans' interest in the quadrennial event, especially here in the U.S., with athletes returning to the tournament after failing to qualify in 2018. This, along with an overall increase in interest in soccer in the U.S., will likely result in strong viewership. To gauge interest in the tournament and measure how the controversies might affect viewers' opinions of sponsors, we conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,550 respondents. We found that 44% of U.S. adults are either somewhat or very likely to view at least some matches. This is an improvement over the last time the U.S. qualified for the tournament, when 37% of respondents in our 2014 survey said they would be watching.
Download the report here.
As usual, Hispanics are the most likely to say they will tune in. Mexico's national team, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and (technically not Hispanic) Brazil, will be playing in the tournament. Those teams, along with Team USA, are expected to draw Hispanic viewers who would like to see the FIFA World Cup Trophy return to the Americas.
Forty percent of Millennials are soccer fans. They are twice as likely to be a soccer fan than Gen X and 25% more likely than Gen Z. Major league soccer matches in Atlanta, Seattle and Cincinnati regularly draw larger crowds than baseball games. Millennials are also the age group most likely to watch the World Cup.
When asked how they plan to watch, streaming edges out broadcast television by 52% to 48%. This holds true across racial groups, except for Hispanics who are slightly more likely to view on T.V. (56% vs 54%).
The only group to report a higher likelihood to watch games on regular T.V. over streaming are Baby Boomers at 69% vs. 34%. The rise in streaming's popularity is evident across all types of content. Sports, however, has been a holdout in that the major networks are generally viewed as the best place to view live events. However, the fact that the World Cup audience skews younger is bolstering streaming over broadcast. Fox Sports and Telemundo and their respective streams have the U.S. broadcast rights for the U.S. Likely viewers, however, are not yet aware of that since 52% of respondents said they would watch on ESPN vs. 35% on FOX and 21% on Telemundo.
Awarding the World Cup to Qatar has been controversial. Accusations of bribery being the reason the tournament was awarded and the fact that the country could not host the tournament in the summer because of excessive heat are concerning but their poor human rights record has garnered the most attention. Building the soccer stadiums in a country with summer highs of 108/109 °F and weak worker protections has caused the death of 6,500 foreign workers. Additionally, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to three years in prison and death under sharia law for Muslims. This has led some brands who normally sponsor the tournament to pull out of this year's event. Others have issued statements condemning the human rights abuses but have stopped short of pulling their sponsorship.
Fans, however, generally support brands that sponsor the World Cup. Fifty percent say that sponsorship positively impacts their impression of the brand while only 7% say sponsorship would negatively impact their opinion. Negative opinion towards sponsorship is in the single digits across all demos except for Gen Z. 22% of Gen Z say that sponsoring the World Cup this year would diminish their perception of a brand.
While controversy surrounds the 2022 Qatar World Cup, viewership in the U.S. is likely to remain strong and the potential for backlash against sponsoring brands will remain low. The fact that it will be played in the fourth quarter makes it difficult for brands to stay away since it's when most Holiday ad spending takes place. However, brands that choose to sponsor World Cup events this year should also demonstrate their support of the LGBTQ+ community and workers' rights to make it clear where they stand.
In a time when U.S. viewership of international sporting events like the Olympics is declining, more attention will be placed on the expanding World Cup audience. Americans will be tuning in, or more precisely, logging on. Brands that care about staying relevant need to be there with them.
Download the report here.
ThinkNow recently fielded a comprehensive quantitative study that compared attitudes and behaviors related to health and wellness among minority groups. After reviewing the survey results, I assumed I would write a blog about mental health issues impacting Black or Hispanic Americans. While there were certainly findings that I could have written about among those groups, the results that really struck me were specific to Asian Americans. The Asian American narrative usually revolves around the model minority myth promoting positive stories about education and financial success. However, mental health in the Asian community does not get as much press. The findings were eye-opening.
Statistically, Asian Americans are doing well collectively when it comes to educational and financial attainment. However, our data shows they lag other ethnic groups in seeking mental health services when needed.
Seeking help for oneself runs contrary to the collectivist ideal in Asian culture of placing the needs of others and society before one’s own. This is true in both East and South Asian cultures. The belief is so ingrained that some segments of the Asian American community, especially the foreign-born, don’t have the language to discuss mental health issues. They, instead, think of mental ailments as a physical condition without considering possible psychosocial origins. The concept of mental health was developed in the U.S. and Europe and mainly used western cultural concepts in diagnosis and treatment. The lack of connection to mental health awareness shows up in the data where most Asian Americans surveyed stated not perceiving mental health as a significant contributor to overall health and well-being.
Even when they recognize they might need help with mental health issues, Asian Americans are less likely to feel comfortable seeking that help.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among Asian American young adults ages 15-24. Asian youth can become overwhelmed by the expectations to succeed. Although the model majority myth may have its origins in Asian immigrants’ desire to succeed in the U.S., it is perpetuated in mainstream culture by teachers, business leaders, comedians, and the media. Asian students may perceive struggling with school pressures as letting both their parents and society down. Without good examples of what self-care looks like, fewer than 20% of Asian Americans know what to do to keep themselves mentally healthy.
Since fewer Asian Americans currently seek mental healthcare compared to other groups, they are less likely to see other people like them in places that could help them, such as student health centers or clinics. This inadvertently confirms their belief that they don’t belong there. Recognizing this disparity is the first step toward creating inviting spaces for Asian Americans to seek mental health services. Language is not as much of an issue for Asian youth but is a real barrier for older, foreign-born groups. Having in-language material and resources available can be lifesaving.
Training healthcare providers to recognize the additional barriers their Asian American patients may be experiencing can also help increase the uptake of services in this demographic group. Healthcare workers must be culturally competent, understanding the nuances impacting their Asian American patients’ decisions.
The model minority myth requires society at large to perpetuate it. Reflecting on our beliefs about what a scientist, artist or carpenter looks like can help open more doors for Asian Americans struggling to conform to certain ideals. Also, asking Asian Americans “where they’re from” is still far too common. What seems like an innocent question to get to know one better actually “others” that person for it makes assumptions about what an American should look like.
Finally, normalizing mental healthcare as something everyone in society can benefit from is vital. By sharing our own challenges, we can inspire Americans of all ethnic backgrounds to accept mental healthcare as an integral part of a well-rounded healthcare routine.
Keeping pace with culture can be challenging for brands. Consumer dynamics are evolving and becoming increasingly fluid, particularly around identity. Several factors influence how consumers see themselves and shape their attitudes, behaviors, preferences, and biases, including their heritage and culture. Through this lens, consumers make purchase decisions and establish brand affinities, requiring companies to develop a better understanding of the complexity of identity.
Multicultural consumers are often motivated by a desire to represent their culture in how they identify their race and ethnicity. In 2020, ThinkNow conducted a nationwide online survey among Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans ages 18 to 64 to understand how they prefer to identify themselves among peers and in marketing and media. This year, we conducted a follow-up study in which we found that the needle hadn’t moved much, with a few exceptions.
Download the report here.
In 2020, we found that the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino/Latina” were preferred by the majority of U.S. Latinos across different scenarios, in particular, when they or others (i.e., media, companies) referred to this population as a whole. That consensus holds in 2022, with the majority of Hispanics preferring the term “Hispanic” when used in most contexts, followed by “Latino(a).”
There was a noticeable shift in sentiment when respondents were asked about naming preferences “when describing yourself in a professional setting (job, interview, etc.).” In 2020, 36% preferred Hispanic and 26% preferred Latino(a). In 2022, 43% of Hispanics preferred “Hispanic” (increase), and 20% preferred “Latino(a),” a six-point decrease.
Interestingly, there is a five-point decrease in the use of the term “Latino(a)” when respondents were asked naming preferences “to use when describing or naming all people of Spanish or Latin American heritage in the U.S.,” from 30% to 25%.
Consistent with data reported in 2020, the term “Latinx” continues to exist in the margins. However, 3 out of 5 Hispanic adults have heard of the term, but it has yet to achieve broad adoption except among younger generations.
Among African Americans, we saw naming preferences become more nuanced. In 2020, 49% of African Americans preferred media, companies, and brands to refer to them as “African American,” and 33% said “Black,” accounting for 82% of respondents. This year, only 37% of African Americans prefer that companies, brands, and the media use the term “African American,” followed by “Black” (23%) and “Black American” (22%). While the total percentage of respondents is the same here, we saw an additional preference emerge not accounted for in 2020. While commonly used, the term “people of color” is not preferred in most cases.
Among Asian Americans in 2020, when asked about naming preferences “for the media/companies/brands to use when describing/naming,” 8% of respondents stated “My Country of Origin + American.” But in 2022, 14% held that preference. Very few Asian Americans prefer to solely be called “American.”
Across the three cohorts, the term “American” was among the least favored naming preferences indicating a desire among multicultural consumers to connect with their heritage. The onus is on media, companies, and brands to research to uncover cultural drivers underpinning multicultural identity and how these factors affect consumption habits.
Download the report here.