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.
As digital marketing continues to evolve, creating personalized marketing experiences for consumers has become critical to successful marketing strategy. In the past, marketers relied on tools like third-party cookies to personalize the customer journey. But with cookies going away in 2024, it’s more important than ever to collect zero-party data to create those personalized marketing experiences while respecting consumer privacy.
Equally as important, however, is the use of multicultural data. The U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse, with much of that growth driven by young consumers. Using multicultural insights helps to personalize their experiences, thus creating stronger bonds that ultimately improve business outcomes.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, multicultural consumers currently represent approximately 40% of the U.S. population and are projected to account for 55% of population growth over the next five years. Therefore, brands looking to succeed in the U.S. market must understand the needs and preferences of these consumers. It’s important to remember that people change, societies evolve, and cultures shift. Brands that stay attuned to national population trends and behavioral pivots and make efforts to understand the cultural drivers influencing them are in the best position to engage this consumer market successfully.
Personalized marketing experiences are no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a necessity. Consumers today expect to receive messages relevant to their interests and needs, and marketers who fail to deliver such experiences will be left behind. One of the keys to creating personalized marketing experiences is the use of zero-party data. Zero-party data is data that consumers intentionally and proactively share with companies. This type of data is valuable because it provides insights into what consumers want. As third-party tracking tools retire, zero-party data is becoming one of the most sought-after permission-based tools for engaging consumers more effectively.
Zero-party data, however, is just one piece of the puzzle. Another key component of personalized marketing is the use of multicultural data. ThinkNow research shows that multicultural consumers have unique needs and preferences, and understanding these nuances is crucial for creating effective marketing campaigns. For example, diverse cultures may have different values, beliefs, and traditions that can influence their purchasing decisions. By understanding these differences, marketers can tailor their messaging to resonate more strongly with multicultural audiences.
Multicultural data can also help brands avoid cultural missteps that could damage their reputation. ThinkNow research has shown that multicultural consumers are more likely to engage with brands that prioritize diversity and inclusion in their marketing efforts and are willing to stop frequenting a store that does not. From campaign strategy to execution, multicultural data can help brands build a deeper connection with multicultural consumers by helping them market in-culture, avoiding common mistakes that could prove very costly.
To effectively use multicultural data, it's important to ensure that it is collected and analyzed ethically and responsibly. Brands must take care to avoid stereotypes and assumptions when analyzing multicultural data and should work to understand the nuances and complexities of diverse cultures. Additionally, brands should be transparent about their data collection practices and ensure that consumers know how their data is being used.
Using zero-party and multicultural data to personalize marketing experiences has become a business imperative. Multicultural consumers are a diverse and rapidly growing segment of the population, and brands that don't consider their needs and preferences risk alienating a significant portion of their potential customer base. Cookies are on their way out, so the demand for zero-party data will only increase.
By using these types of data in an ethical and responsible manner, brands can create more authentic and meaningful connections with their audiences and drive business success.
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.
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.
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…)
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…)
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.
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.
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 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.