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Serving Up Authenticity in Food and CPG

Food in America is multicultural. It’s a fusion of various tastes, ingredients, and cooking styles from around the world that culminate into a rich flavor profile of cultural diversity. But at its core, it’s American food, representing the swiftly changing demographics in the U.S. as it trends toward a majority-minority nation.

Brands in the food and CPG space are tasked with understanding the consumers driving these trends and showing up authentically, in-person and online. It's becoming increasingly important for brands to take intentional actions like staffing stores and restaurants to mirror the communities they’re serving. Birria lovers craving authenticity, for example, may give a restaurant a side-eye if no one in the kitchen serving up these tasty tacos is Latino. To them, insiders serve as translators, a bridge between the brand and the consumer communicating the needs and desires of the community.

But authenticity often gets misinterpreted in food. Dishes made generations before will naturally evolve based on what is available now and life experiences. Yet authenticity does drive purchases in CPG and food, from ingredients to labeling, especially among Hispanics and African Americans.

Luis Cachua, Director of Multicultural Strategy and Brand Partnerships at Food Beast, stops by The New Mainstream podcast to discuss the importance of authenticity in the food and CPG space and the love of birria tacos!

Listen to the The New Mainstream podcast.

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Brand Allies: Seeing Multicultural Consumers As People First, Not Dollar Signs

Multicultural marketing is finally being embraced as a necessity, not a nice-to-have. Marketers have traditionally been interested in marketing to diverse audiences around the release of Census data when they realized the changing demographics of American consumers.

That’s changed within the last two years. Consumers have been more vocal, taking brands to task for cultural insensitivity and stereotypical themes. In response, there has been a more consistent focus on multicultural.

That focus extends beyond just reaching consumers to engaging minority-owned companies, particularly media companies. It's unlikely that a brand can fully engage a diverse group if they are not supporting companies within that group. For example, it would be beneficial for a brand targeting Black consumers to work with a Black-owned media company with access to Black consumers. Understanding that many minority-owned firms may be smaller and unable to deliver the reach necessary makes collaborating with larger firms essential, opening the door for robust supplier diversity programs.

But it’s important to note that building relationships with diverse audiences is a long game. Loyalty comes over time and engaging multicultural audiences thoughtfully and respectfully builds goodwill. Consumers want brand allies who care about what they value and stand in solidarity with them, not brands that just see them as dollar signs.

Tune in to this episode of The New Mainstream podcast where Marina Filippelli, CEO of Orci, discusses the importance of brand allies to building consumer loyalty and why partnering with minority-owned media companies matters.

Marina drives both business strategy and day-to-day operations for multicultural initiatives at Orci, working closely with her team to deliver engaging, effective campaigns that help global brands like Honda, Acura, Dole, VCA, Anheuser Busch, Chevron and ExtraMile build meaningful relationships with diverse targets in the U.S. and Latin America.

With roots in Mexico and Argentina, she has been passionate about communicating with the Latinx community since she first launched her career at Orci, ultimately returning after leading the multicultural division of Heat and client teams at Zubi Advertising and Conexión.

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ThinkNow Pulse: Consumer Confidence Rebounds As U.S. Economy Recovers

Two years ago, the global shutdown sent the economy reeling, and many Americans, especially lower-income households, experienced a seismic shift in their financial security. Consumers reported worsening personal finances and a feeling that the economy was weakening. Their outlook for 2021 was equally as dim, with fewer Americans feeling optimistic about improvements in personal finances for the coming year. Uncertainty about the pandemic, unemployment, and higher prices threatened to thwart the comeback story of the American consumer. But with the mass distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, better protocols and treatments, and the distribution of trillions of dollars in federal stimulus, consumer sentiment has returned to pre-pandemic levels. (more…)

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Coming Into Focus: 2021 Year In Review

This time last year, America was fresh off the high of a change in executive leadership. Americans started rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccinations, and the nation was undergoing a racial awakening generations in the making. Then a week into the new year, democracy was breached, and the ensuing fallout would test the ideals of what it means to be American. In our 2021 ThinkNow year-end report we examine the economic highs and lows of the past twelve months, and how consumers, in their resilience, have weathered the storms by tapping into their power and wielding it to demand a fair and just society for all. (more…)

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The Black Consumer Project Finds Black Consumers Resilient and Optimistic

Mainstream media coverage of Black Americans often focuses on the economic and racial disparities that plague Black communities. These pressing societal issues, however, are not the only stories to tell. Black Americans have endured centuries of hardship yet have emerged vibrant, resilient, and optimistic, contributing culturally and economically to the prosperity of America. We explore this story in The Black Consumer Project. WATCH the playback here.

The Black Consumer Project

ThinkNow and Quantasy + Associates have teamed up to share the narrative of Black Americans as we see it through the lens of our consumer insights and ad agency work. Per the 2020 Census, 46.9 million Americans identify as African American or Black alone or a combination with another race. They contribute $1.4 trillion in annual spending, making them one of the country’s main economic drivers. Fortune 100 firms frequently retain our services to bring authenticity to marketing and media plans targeting Black consumers. But perhaps, more importantly, that authenticity gives a voice to a community that has been misrepresented in advertising since the dawn of the ad age. So, we launched The Black Consumer Project – a series of nationally representative surveys capturing the opinions of over 1,000 Black Americans and 500 non-Blacks to articulate the narrative of one of America’s most vibrant but often misunderstood consumer segments. The project uncovers the unique perspectives, behaviors, and preferences among African American consumers. The first of the several waves, Black Identity, releases in December 2021, focusing on values, self-perception, belief in “The American Dream,” and attitudes held by emerging Black affluent consumers. Future waves will focus on industry specific verticals such as Media & Entertainment, Financial Services and Health & Wellness.

Black Identity

We use the terms African American, Black American, and Black interchangeably throughout the research. In Wave 1 of The Black Consumer Project, we delve into how these terms are viewed by different segments of the Black community as well as more recent terms like Person of Color (POC) and American-Born Descendant of Slaves (ADOS). Rightly or not, race affects how Black Americans navigate our society and how they choose to spend money. We delve into whether Black Americans consider that their race/heritage defines them. The answers are enlightening and vary considerably by demographic segment. Like most consumers, African Americans appreciate being seen and heard by the brands and companies they support. We, therefore, ask Black consumers whether they have boycotted a company or brand that they felt did something unethical towards the Black community and whether they feel it’s important that companies and brands support diversity and inclusion. Race, however, is just one of many factors that play into Black identity. Included in the study are questions about personal values, how Black consumers would describe themselves, and what their dreams for the future are.

The American Dream

The belief that upward mobility and success is possible in America is shared across all races. What defines success, however, varies. There is considerable difference, for example, within the various age cohorts of the Black community in terms of how they view the American Dream and whether they feel pride in being an American. Income and other demographic differences also affect these views. There are also distinct differences between how Black Americans feel about upward mobility and success when compared to non-Black consumers. The Black Consumer Project, Black Identity, launches December 7th with an online streaming event featuring Associates’ Melanie Williams and ThinkNow’s Roy Eduardo Kokoyachuk, who’ll dive into the data, and a panel discussion featuring Rashad Drakeford (Global Head of Content Marketing, Robinhood), Dom Brown (Sr. Manager of Culture + Community, Instagram) and Diaundra Jones (Co-Founder, Seventh Ave), and moderated by the Julian Mitchell. Don’t miss the first wave of The Black Consumer Project.

Stream The Black Consumer Project here.

 

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ThinkNow Smart Fitness: The Rise of Connected Fitness and Community

The pandemic has accelerated the shift from traditional in-person gym memberships to broader acceptance of at-home connected fitness equipment. But a recent ThinkNow study shows that the gym isn’t dead, and connected fitness has a long way to go.

For our 2021 ThinkNow Smart Fitness Report, ThinkNow conducted a nationwide online survey of American adults ages 18 to 64 to understand consumer usage of internet-connected fitness equipment and perceptions of connected fitness brands. (more…)

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Redefining Identity: New Rules for Sampling in Market Research

How consumers choose to identify is changing, breaking away from conventions historically used to categorize and hypothesize about who people are and how they live their lives. Yet, traditional constructs aren’t keeping pace with the evolution of identity and leaves no room for the grey areas an increasing number of consumers choose to live in. (more…)

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