For many of us, our ideals and attitudes about who we are as individuals are shaped by our heritage and cultural experiences. As consumers, our affinity for certain brands pass through these filters resulting in purchase behaviors that tie back to our beliefs and how we see ourselves. Among multicultural audiences, this presents a unique challenge for marketers. There is no one size fits all solution to gaining buy-in from this diverse group. U.S. Hispanics hail from over 20 countries of origin, and Asian Americans, 40 countries. Understanding the importance of identity to multicultural audiences is essential to mitigating cultural bias in your marketing campaign strategy and delivering culturally relevant advertising.

ThinkNow conducted a nationwide online survey among a representative sample of American adults 18 to 64 years of age to understand better how Hispanics, Asian Americans, and African Americans prefer to identify among peers and in marketing and media. The ThinkNow Culture™  study found that the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino/Latina” are preferred by the majority of U.S. Latinos across different scenarios – in particular, when they or others (i.e., media, companies) refer to this population as a whole. But these labels are least preferred when Hispanics ask each other about race/ethnicity.

Preferred Names for Various Scenarios

Among African Americans, in most situations, the preference for “Black” and “African American” is evenly split. However, when it comes to the media or brands referring to them as a group, preference is stronger for “African Americans.” The phrase “People of Color” is least preferred, just ahead of “Other” and “Does Not Matter.”

Hispanics and Asian Americans ranked similarly for identifying as “My Country of Origin + American.” Unlike Hispanics, but similar to African Americans, Asian Americans are evenly split on the preference for “Asian American” and “Asian.”

The study results show that ultimately, multicultural consumer identity varies by demographic and the context of the relationship. To download the full report brief, click here.