The 2023 holiday shopping season kicked off strong, with Adobe Analytics reporting a record $9.8 billion in Black Friday online sales, up 7.5% from 2022.Cyber Monday numbers were even stronger, with consumers spending $12.4 billion, a 9.6% increase over last year. So, what does this mean for December sales and the rest of the holiday shopping season? ThinkNow recently conducted a nationally representative quantitative survey of 1,500 consumers revealing insights into what Americans buy and spend for the holidays. From shopping habits to spending patterns, let's delve into the top five trends shaping the 2023 holiday shopping season.
Download the report here.
The changing consumer landscape presents challenges and opportunities during the holiday season. Our findings suggest that businesses should focus on the following strategies to engage multicultural consumers during this time to build goodwill that could spill over to other peak spending seasons:
The 2023 holiday shopping season is starting strong, with several key trends emerging. Early birds are taking advantage of extra discounts and promotions, while spending sentiments are mixed due to economic uncertainties. Online shopping continues to dominate the landscape, with over half of consumers planning to purchase online. This presents a unique opportunity for businesses catering to multicultural consumers who are expected to drive significant growth during the holiday season.
Download the full report here for a deep dive into the findings and more cultural insights.
The past two years have been difficult for the LGBTQ+ community. Despite years of progress, a disturbing resurgence of intolerance threatens to undermine the hard-earned gains toward social acceptance. As part of our commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion, ThinkNow surveyed a nationally representative sample of LGBTQ+ Americans on their views of the current social climate, corporate support for LGBTQ+ causes, personal pronouns, and mental health care. Below are a few noteworthy findings from the study.
Download the full results of the quantitative survey here.
We asked our sample of 500 LGBTQ+ Americans if they felt that discrimination or prejudice towards the LGBTQ+ community had increased over the past year, and 67% said "yes." This perception appears to be rooted in reality. A recent Gallup Poll found that support for same-sex relations in the U.S. dropped from 71% in 2022 to 64% in 2023. That drop is likely driven by a loss of support among Republicans, dropping from 56% last year to 41% currently. A possible explanation for this drop is the rhetoric surrounding the 2022 "Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida that portrayed education about sexual identity as “grooming” children to adopt gay lifestyles. While politicians appear to be driving the current wave of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, only 29% of our respondents said they “only vote for candidates who support LBGTQ+ rights.” For most (58%), a candidate’s position on LGBTQ+ rights is just one of many key factors when voting.
Although recent controversies have surrounded Bud Light and Target's support for the LGBTQ+ community and their subsequent pullback of that support, LGBTQ+ consumers still believe companies should advocate for their causes. In fact, Target and Bud Light were two brands that respondents felt were doing a good job supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
However, using advertising to show support is not the only way respondents want brands to engage. Sixty-five percent want companies to train their employees in diversity, equity and inclusion, while 59% want companies to include sexual orientation in corporate nondiscrimination policies.
Thirteen percent of our sample used a pronoun other than “he/she.” The most common non-binary pronoun (18%) was “they/them.” Age was the primary factor that determined how important it was for respondents that people use their correct pronouns. Seventy-three percent of respondents between the ages of 18-22 stated that it was at least moderately important to them that people use their correct pronouns vs. 25% of those aged 55+.
While conservatives are boycotting Bud Light, Target, Kohl’s and even Chik-fil-A for supporting diversity, equity and inclusion ideals, the LGBTQ+ community is split on boycotts, with 43% saying they’ve boycotted a company because of their stance on LGBTQ+ issues. Interestingly, 59% of respondents in the 55+ age bracket say they’ve boycotted a company for their stance on LBGTQ+ issues, while only 34% of 18–22-year-olds have boycotted for that reason. Income also seems to be a factor, with 52% of those earning $80K or more supporting boycotts vs. 34% of those earning less than $35K a year.
“Forty-two percent of LGBTQ+ youth—and 52 percent of trans youth—said they seriously considered suicide in 2021.” One thing that a vast majority of our LGBTQ+ survey respondents (76%) agreed on was the need to “create safe, accepting, and supportive environments for LGBTQ+ youth on school campuses” to support mental health among young people. Most respondents also supported DEI initiatives, connecting youth with supportive peers and providing gender-affirming mental health care.
The past two years have presented significant challenges for the LGBTQ+ community, with a noticeable increase in discrimination and prejudice. Despite this setback, our survey highlights the unwavering belief among LGBTQ+ Americans that corporate support for their cause is crucial. The controversies surrounding brands like Bud Light and Target have not diminished the community's expectation that companies should actively advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
However, it is important to note that supportive advertising alone falls short. Respondents want companies to go beyond that by providing employee training in diversity, equity, and inclusion and including sexual orientation in corporate nondiscrimination policies. Lastly, the survey underscores the urgent need for mental health support for young LGBTQ+ individuals.
Overall, the findings highlight the persistent challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community and emphasize the role that acceptance, advocacy and allyship play in fostering their well-being and advancement.
The earth isn’t having a good 21st century. In terms of environmental health, the planet is deteriorating across all metrics, and most governments worldwide have failed to address this issue adequately. Politicians may be more willing to push for substantive policies on issues like climate change if they feel their constituents would support them, but they need the data. So, to commemorate Earth Day and Arbor Day, ThinkNow conducted a nationally representative quantitative consumer research study to identify sustainability policies that Americans support and to highlight their views on environmental concerns.
Download the study here.
Environmental concerns vary significantly by generation. For example, when asked about the importance of personally using renewable energy, 46% of Millennials said it was important, very important or extremely important (Top 3 Box response on a 10-point scale), whereas only 29% of Baby Boomers and 32% of Gen Z agreed. Millennial Americans were more likely to support and engage in every sustainability measure we asked about.
Millennials were also more likely to say they personally engaged in sustainability practices more than the general population and that those practices positively impacted the world.
However, sustainability can be expensive. Some policies increase the cost of goods and services, which is often cited as a reason politicians choose not to pursue them. But Millennials are willing to shoulder the expense more so than any other generation, with Gen Z a close second.
Some attitudes and behaviors surrounding sustainability appear to be influenced by ethnicity. Eighty-eight percent of Asian Americans, for example, say they take shorter showers to conserve water, whereas only 77% of non-Hispanic Whites say they do that. Non-Hispanic Whites were most likely to say they buy used/thrift items at 76%, while only 61% of Asian Americans were thrift shoppers.
Among the different ethnic groups, African Americans displayed the lowest level of concern regarding the planet's future, with only 68% expressing worry. On the other hand, Hispanics had the highest level of anxiety, with 76% expressing concern. This discrepancy could explain why Hispanics are also the group most willing to shoulder the financial costs associated with sustainable practices.
Income level is key in predicting an individual's likelihood to support or engage in sustainability practices. Opting to go green can get expensive, which explains why only 34% of individuals earning less than $40K per year believe that personally using renewable energy is important, in contrast to 50% of high earners who do. Additionally, certain practices, such as growing one's own food, are more feasible for individuals living in single-family homes than those residing in multi-unit buildings.
The infrastructure bill passed in 2021 aims to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road. However, 52% of our representative sample said they would not buy an EV in the future. This presents a problem if the U.S. hopes to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. At 64%, the main reason survey respondents gave for not planning to purchase an electric vehicle was cost. EVs are more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. Range, on the other hand, was a barrier a few years ago, but only 15% of respondents cited that as a reason today. A lack of charging accessibility was the second most likely reason respondents would avoid EVs, with 34% stating they had nowhere to charge at work or home and an equal 34% stating there aren't enough charging stations.
Sustainability and environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important to Americans, particularly younger generations. Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to support and engage in these practices, even if they come at a cost. The passage of the infrastructure bill in 2021 represents progress in decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels. However, the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle remains a significant obstacle for many Americans. To effectively address environmental degradation, policymakers must consider their constituents' attitudes, behaviors, motivators, and barriers when formulating policies to tackle this crucial issue. Further action is necessary to ensure that sustainable solutions are accessible and feasible for all.
Celebrations are positive ways for communities to connect and families to bond. How we celebrate differs by ethnicity, values, traditions, and even geography. In honor of Black History Month, ThinkNow conducted a national study of U.S. adults to understand Black Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward holiday celebrations and traditions and how they compare to other demographic groups. This report is one in a series of reports examining how Americans celebrate popular holidays throughout the calendar year. Here’s what we found.
Civil rights holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth are celebrated by 50% and 39% of Black Americans, respectively. This compares to 12% of non-Black Americans who celebrate MLK Day and 7% who celebrate Juneteenth. Black respondents indicated they were most likely to spend time with other family members on civil rights holidays. Click To Tweet
Twenty-two percent report attending parades on MLK Day, and 26% prepare a special meal for Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday since 1983 when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was enacted. While only 12% of the Total Market celebrates Juneteenth, growing pressure from consumers on brands to be more inclusive has stimulated interest in this holiday since 2020.
Despite racial divides and systemic inequities Black Americans face in this country, they celebrate patriotic holidays at surprising rates. Over 60% of Black Americans celebrate the 4th of July, which is on par with non-Black Americans. Black Americans, however, are more likely to celebrate Memorial Day (45% vs. 35%) and Presidents’ Day (28% vs. 20%) and slightly more likely to celebrate Veterans Day (29% vs. 25%) than non-Blacks. Most Black Americans celebrate the 4th of July by gathering with family and friends (73%) and preparing a special meal (40%). Memorial Day is also an occasion to gather with friends (56%).
Black Americans’ history with patriotic holidays is complicated, however. Click To Tweet
The idea of celebrating the independence of a nation at a time when the vast majority of Blacks were enslaved rang hollow and still does for some today. Or when history neglects to tell the story of thousands of Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, who paid tribute to fallen Confederate and Union soldiers in one of the earliest Memorial Day observances. Over time, these stories have been written out of history books and replaced with commercialism. Today, Presidents' Day is more known for mattress and appliance sales than the first president’s birthday. Perhaps holidays like Memorial Day over-index with Black Americans because they celebrate individuals over the nation as a whole.
Halloween was one of the lesser celebrated holidays among Black Americans, with only 40% celebrating compared to 49% of non-Blacks. Relatedly, about 60% of Black Americans identify as Christian when asked about their religion. Christians have a divided perspective regarding Halloween festivities, as shown by the nearly equal halves of those who do and don’t celebrate. Among Black churchgoers looking to join the holiday fun without the pagan elements, “Trunk or Treat” events have become popular, including trick or treating in a church environment with non-threatening costumes and no bubbling cauldrons. Interestingly, Black Americans are only slightly more likely to celebrate Good Friday and Easter than non-Blacks (44% vs. 41%).
Black Americans are more likely to celebrate certain holidays, like the 4th of July, alone (21% vs. 10%), according to the research, while non-Black Americans were more often celebrating with partners since only 30% of Black Americans are married vs. the national average of 48%. This, however, leads to more time spent with their extended families. For example, 59% of Blacks celebrate July 4th with other family members vs. 45% of non-Blacks. This was also true on military and civil rights holidays, with nearly half of Black Americans celebrating Juneteenth by getting together with other family members on that day.
Most spending occurs around Christmas with purchases averaging $439 for Blacks and $469 for non-Blacks. Thanksgiving and Mardi Gras are also very popular spending holidays in the Black community with spending averages around $222 and $167, respectively. Halloween spending of $153 for Black Americans is slightly less than the non-Black average of $161.
When it comes to holidays, Black Americans are surprisingly patriotic. They may be a minority in the U.S., but they have more in common with non-Hispanic Whites than Hispanics or Asians when celebrating America and lead the nation in commemorating civil rights holidays. Their religious affiliation makes them more slightly likely to celebrate Easter than the average American, but it also makes them less likely to celebrate “pagan” holidays like Halloween.
Understanding these dynamics is key to providing goods and services that have the potential to make celebrations memorable for the 47 million Black Americans in this country who wield 1.4 trillion dollars in spending power.
You can download the full report here.
Dynamic storytelling is a powerful way to inspire others to take a desired action. For companies and brands, this could mean purchasing a product, attending an event, or signing up for a subscription service. Consumers, who share their perspectives with researchers on what they want and need, play an influential role in shaping these narratives.
By leveraging quantitative and qualitative research, researchers get a 360-degree view of the consumer, which fosters cognitive empathy. In a sense, researchers are empathy activists entrusted with sharing knowledge about consumers to help brands make better marketing decisions that drive engagement.
Cognitive empathy works to dismantle judgments and biases. Researchers engage people through surveys, focus groups, and other data collection methodologies and offer insights that reveal stereotypes, biases and untruths. Marketers must act on those insights and deliver relevant marketing campaigns based on truth.
In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Rob Volpe, CEO of Ignite 360 and author of Tell Me More About That: Solving the Empathy Crisis One Conversation at a Time, shares how cognitive empathy can foster diversity and inclusion in the insights industry.
Florida’s recent block of an Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course for high school students sent shockwaves across academia and enraged supporters. Providing all students with access to diverse educational opportunities broadens their perspectives and fosters empathy for each other’s plight. To limit those opportunities is to limit their growth.
Limits lead to disparities between educational environments, resulting in barriers to learning for some, and privilege for others. As a result of these inequities, Black and Brown communities have disproportionate access to advanced curricula like STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), which are essential to achieving high-income careers and establishing generational wealth, which could alter the trajectory of underserved and under resourced communities.
On this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Dr. Hassan Brown, founder of Career Catalyst, talks about his journey into ed tech and the importance of training the next generation of BIPOC youth for STEAM careers.
About Dr. Hassan Brown:
Dr. Hassan Brown is the Chief Executive Officer of Career Catalyst, an education technology and multimedia endeavor within the Kapor Center, designed to cultivate confidence in young people of color from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue academic and professional STEM opportunities, increasing their odds of being full participants in the future of work and innovation economies, leading to more gainful employment and economic security.
Brown is passionate about bridging the gap between social justice, workforce education, and emerging technologies. He has served as the director of Harvard Innovation and Ventures in Education (HIVE) and has also been a startup advisor for the Harvard Initiative for Teaching and Learning (HILT), and currently serves as a startup advisor for Headstream, an accelerator from SecondMuse that focuses on youth wellbeing and centering youth voice in the discourse around emerging technologies.
Dr. Brown holds a Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Masters in Education from Hunter College, and Doctor of Education Leadership degree from Harvard University.
While the demise of cookies may have expedited the shift to zero-party data, consumer demand is driving its adoption. Privacy and personalization are key concerns for consumers, and zero-party data delivers both.
Typically obtained through interactive experiences, opt-in forms, or consumer surveys, zero-party data comes directly from consumers. It can include explicit information, such as purchase history and preferences, and implicit information inferred through behaviors and interactions.
As zero-party data is provided voluntarily, it affords marketers an unrestricted view of consumer needs and preferences, facilitating long-term relationships and loyalty.
For digital media buyers using programmatic demand-side platforms (DSPs) such as MediaMath, The Trade Desk, and Google DV360, zero-party data is a game changer. These platforms rely on data to inform targeting and optimization decisions, and zero-party data provides a more nuanced and relevant understanding of consumers.
For example, a digital media buyer using a DSP may target a specific audience segment based on third-party data indicating a certain affinity level for a particular product or service. Zero-party data, however, offers a self-reported accounting of an individual's interests and preferences, allowing the buyer to create more personalized and effective campaigns.
In addition to its benefits for targeting and optimization, zero-party data can also help digital marketers overcome the challenges posed by the phasing out of third-party cookies by 2024. Businesses must find alternative ways to gather and use audience data. Since zero-party data is obtained directly from consumers and can be used with their explicit consent, it provides a more privacy-sensitive and sustainable solution than its predecessor.
Digital media buyers can leverage zero-party data in various ways, such as creating interactive experiences or opt-in forms on their websites or social media channels. Through these tools, explicit information like purchase history and preferences can be collected, as well as implicit information inferred from behaviors and interactions.
Another option is to use marketing automation tools that allow businesses to collect zero-party data through email opt-ins and other direct communication with customers. Marketers can use these tools to segment and analyze zero-party data to better understand their audience and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly.
Zero-party data is the future. By putting consumers back into the equation instead of just focusing on their digital breadcrumbs, digital media buyers and marketers can usher in a new era of personalization resulting in more effective campaigns and increased brand loyalty. In the wake of the highly anticipated end of cookies, embracing zero-party data now and incorporating it into targeting and optimization strategies gives digital media buyers the tools to position themselves for success in a post-cookie world.
This blog post was originally published on MediaPost.