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.
Gun violence in the U.S. is an intractable problem. A steady stream of mass shootings and increasing homicide rates do not appear to be motivating politicians to enact meaningful gun control laws. The recently passed bipartisan Safer Communities Act does little to solve the problem. Its provisions are so weak that few gun control advocates believe it will significantly impact U.S. gun-related deaths.
Democratic and Republican politicians have shied away from the problem because of the potential for electoral backlash. While more amenable to gun control, Democrats often attribute their loss of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 after four decades in power as a consequence of their passage of an assault weapons ban earlier that year. This led to years of anemic Democratic support for gun control while Republicans pushed to loosen gun laws under pressure from the NRA.
Weak Democratic support and Republican antipathy towards gun control has worked politically, but it appears the electorate is shifting its opinion on this issue. ThinkNow recently collaborated with Team Friday to field a nationally representative survey of 1,200 registered voters and found that 66% believe the U.S. needs stricter gun laws. Our survey results match those released by Gallup earlier this year which also found that 66% of respondents want more stringent gun laws, up from a low of 44% in 2010.
According to our data, party affiliation strongly indicates whether a respondent supports gun control. Eighty-six percent of Democratic voters, 41% of Republicans, and 69% of Independents stated that gun laws should be stricter. While 41% Republican support might seem low, it’s an improvement over the past couple of years which measured their support in the low 20s.
This shift in Republican support could have implications in Texas and Florida where a clear majority of the electorate support stricter gun laws while their legislators are actively loosening them.
More interestingly, we found that gun owners, themselves, support stricter gun laws.
While there are differences in opinion based on party affiliation, we found there are four reforms that Americans across the political spectrum can get behind. Universal background checks, red-flag laws, raising the gun buying age to 21 and permits for concealed carry all garner more than 50% support among Americans that want stricter gun laws.
Politicians in Red (leans toward Republicans) or Purple States (similar support for Democrats and Republicans) who are interested in addressing the gun problem can presumably support the four measures above without the risk of electoral backlash.
At 74%, the primary reason Americans state for buying guns is to protect their home. No other reason exceeds 50%. This would suggest that gun legislation that does not infringe on individuals’ right to protect their home has a lower chance of creating voter backlash.
Interestingly, a policy that does not have overwhelming support, even among Democrats is allowing individuals to sue gun manufacturers.
It’s possible that Americans don’t support suing manufacturers because they fear this will put them out of business and restrict their access to guns for home protection.
It’s often assumed that gun rights and gun regulations are mutually exclusive. That’s not true. Clear majorities of Americans that support gun rights want better regulation. Americans, in general, are tired of the carnage and want something done about it. In 2020, voters listed attitudes towards guns laws as one of the reasons they were voting for president. Unfortunately, the problem has only gotten worse since then. Politicians who respond to this crisis can lead the nation to a future where mass shootings and unprovoked gun deaths are a thing of the past. Those interested in maintaining the status quo may find themselves without a constituency.
Join ThinkNow and Team Friday for a webinar discussing insights from the study on Wednesday, November 2nd at 10 AM PST/ 1 PM EST.
Click here to register.
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.
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.