CultureRate: Better Target Your Brand While Driving Halo Effects in Ads

Using our CultureRate database, we analyzed over 500 brands and 100 ads gathered across the last 12 months to establish a set of lessons that help marketers better connect with today’s “New Wave” consumers between 18 and 41, across race and ethnicity.

June 7, 2022
David Evans – Chief Insights Officer


Read on and fill out the form for an excerpt from our CultureRate:Brand – Better Target Your Brand While Driving Halo Effects presentation. 

CultureRate:Brand presentation cover

Brands Are Challenged by Rising Cultural Diversity and Polarization

As shown in research accompanying this initiative, marketing and insights leaders face increasing pressure to translate the rapid cultural transformation underway in the U.S. marketplace into clear action steps for brands. From 2020 to 2021, we witnessed an astonishing 10 percentage point-plus increase in the already-high importance of race and ethnicity for multicultural consumers, even as satisfaction of portrayals fell by an average of 8 percentage points.

Multicultural American support brands that support them

One thing is for certain: the increase in multicultural consciousness that arose in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns and George Floyd’s murder has not reverted to norm. Cultural Fluency is emerging as a new mandate for marketing as a whole, and can no longer be understood as a sideshow to the main act of mainstream marketing. Cultural Fluency demands that brands use culture to connect effectively and authentically within and across segments.

How CultureRate:Ad Reveals Powerful New Insights

To address these issues, we launched CultureRate in 2018, a brand and creative evaluation methodology that is now providing our members with powerful new insights into brand and ad performance across cultural groups.

CultureRate is different from any anything on the market today, in four distinct ways:

    • Culture is Intrinsic to the Entire Approach: CultureRate positions culture as the primary lens through which to understand diverse segments.
    • CultureRate is Grounded in Science of Group Emotion and Rationality: Our approach is based on long-ignored research into the psychology of group emotion and emerging insights from evolutionary psychology into the role of rationality as a mechanism for signaling group affiliation. CultureRate breaks new ground by fully recognizing that consumers not only make decisions to buy products on a path toward optimization of personal net benefits and self-actualization, but also make decisions as a member of group. We have learned nothing since 2016, if not the importance of this phenomenon and the degree to which it completely reframes our understanding of human behavior.
    • Rigorously Validated Metrics: We undertook an exhaustive process to identify metrics that matter, identifying the six most critical component metrics for CultureRate:Brand through an exhaustive review of 20 candidate metrics to derive the critical six that optimally reflected cultural dimensions while predicting brand favorability.
    • Linkage to Cultural Traits of Consumers: methodology is integrated within Collage Group’s Cultural Traits system, a rigorously proven method for measuring cultural variation, that enables marketing professions to link how using cultural insights into specific segments improve ad and brand effectiveness. Explore how Cultural Trait analysis works when applied to Black consumers

Unrivaled Rigor and Database Depth

The methodology introduces two important new metrics: the Brand Cultural Fluency Quotient (B-CFQ) and the Ad Cultural Fluency Quotient (A-CFQ), composed of six and four subcomponent metrics respectively, both of which were designed to optimally predict favorability and purchase intent. A-CFQ is also complemented by Backlash, which takes conventional brand favorability a step further by quantifying the degree to which an ad can “flip” perception from positive to negative or vice versa. Combining A-CFQ and Backlash metrics for target segments reveal the dynamics that make ads successful.

Top Lessons for More Inclusive Marketing

For this research we filtered our database to derive a high-quality sample of around 250,000 consumer responses to over 300 brands and 100 ads for the population of 18-41 year old Americans we dub the “New Wave.”  We focus on this younger segment because it is the first in American history to grow up in a culturally and intrinsically diverse environment and thereby redefining the future of values and respect for diversity that will make or break brands in the next years. Our research into brand performance revealed that:
    • Brands need to appreciate the different reasons multicultural Americans love brands.
Differences in how multicultural groups prefer brands
    • Multicultural consumers are much more likely to appreciate brands when they specifically see that the brand is for “people like me.” Gain an edge: go to extremes to show how your brand is for multicultural Americans. 
    • Trust is a game changer for Black Americans. Lean into opportunities to show how your brand has supported the segment, how your brand embodies values core to the segment, and/or connects to the Black Group Trait of Perseverance.
    • Hispanic Americans’ uniquely express their affiliation for a brand through their willingness to advocate for the brand to others. Leverage Hispanic Group Traits of Warmth and being Tuned-In to prime them to be a trend-setter on your behalf. Give Hispanic consumers a reason to talk about your brand and they will reward you with mentions, word of mouth and other opportunities to drive earned media attention.

Our research into ad performance revealed that:

    • Halo effects are much more common than you think, even as targeted ads remain important, especially for Black and Hispanic consumers
2021 Top 20 Ads: Black Halo Effects
    • Brands can drive inclusivity by showing how consumers are part of a spectrum of shared experience. Associate Black or Hispanic agency with the Passion Points of other groups.
    • Cross-generational familial bonds provide immense power for storytelling: The extended family relationships of younger consumers are your unsung opportunity.
    • Black consumers will punish you for poor representational choices, especially on themes that are universal. Ensure any “vignette” approach to a universal experience includes Black people.
    • Culturally-specific humor may not halo well. Increase the reliability of halo effects by appealing to universal themes of Connection (family, friends, and community).
    • Social justice messages that address multicultural issues work well when the consumers see the direct benefit of an investment in opportunity for real people.
    • The preferences of White consumers may be a poor guide for the general market appeal.

Other Recent Multicultural Research Articles & Insights from Collage Group

David Evans

David Evans

David serves as the Chief Insights Officer responsible for all syndicated content and thought leadership. He is passionate about leading the teams that reveal insights into consumers that can transform the fortunes of our members, make these actionable in our products and experience, and build great places to work. Before joining Collage Group in 2018, David served in a variety of senior roles in data, analytics and syndicated research organizations, including Cushman & Wakefield as Strategic Advisor, CoStar Group as Vice President of Research, and the White House where he founded the Office of Executive Councils in 2011. From 1998 to 2009, he worked at the Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner), serving ultimately as Chief Researcher for a $100 million division covering eight major business units. David holds a Diploma (M.Arch equivalent) from the Architectural Association in London and an M.B.A. from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Before pursuing a business career, David worked as an architect in the UK, France and Germany, and published and exhibited widely. David was born in London to American and Canadian parents. He lives in Bethesda with his wife Juliette Searight and younger Generation Alpha daughter, while avidly following his older Generation Z daughter’s journey into adulthood in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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