Consumer Insights Research 2023: Unveiling Our Latest Findings and Looking Ahead

Welcome to Collage Group’s quarterly consumer insights research and trends report, which reviews some of our most notable research published this year.

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October 11, 2023
Jack Mackinnon – Senior Director of Cultural Insights at Collage Group

This article reveals our standout data and findings, along with the requests, feedback, and interests expressed by our members. 

Collage Group’s insights are a trusted resource for iconic brands aiming to effectively engage with and succeed in diverse America. Today, we are excited to share our most sought-after and diverse consumer insights with you.

Furthermore, we delve into what lies ahead by pinpointing emerging trends that are poised to shape the consumer market in the upcoming months. With these insights, you’ll remain at the forefront of industry developments, ensuring you consistently meet the evolving needs of your consumers.

If you wish to review our most popular consumer insights from 2022, click here.

Top Consumer Insight Trends of 2023

Below, we detail our most recently unveiled insights for brand growth among diverse consumer audiences.

We explore:

    • The impact of generative AI on the consumer market,
    • LGBTQ+ sentiment and backlash,
    • Top brands for parents,
    • Top brands of Generation X.

By comprehending these trends, your brand will be well-positioned to address the emerging needs of your target consumer segment.

Consumer Insights Research #1: The Impact of Generative AI on the Consumer Market

Consumer concerns and engagement with Artificial Intelligence (AI) are currently shaping, and will continue to shape, the consumer landscape.

Collage Group remains at the forefront, analyzing trends in generative AI to precisely understand how such developments are being embraced and utilized by the American population.

According to our most recent findings to be featured in the upcoming release of our America Now report on Oct. 30, a significant 62% of consumers express concern over AI causing an increase in online misinformation. Another 66% of consumers were alarmed about the potential misuse of personal information due to AI. Furthermore, AI’s impact on employment is a source of apprehension for 62% of consumers. Therefore, our results indicate widespread anxiety regarding the influence of AI on various aspects of society.

However, among the surveyed respondents, 60% report using AI tools. Examining these trends more closely and discerning differences across ethnicities, we find that 56% of White consumers acknowledge using AI, but Black and Asian Americans stand out as the more likely users, particularly for tasks related to writing. For instance, 40% of Black Americans and 41% of Asian Americans have employed AI for these purposes, surpassing the overall average of 34%. Asian Americans also lead in AI usage for generating ideas, learning, and communication, demonstrating a higher propensity for engaging in generative AI tools in these areas compared to the broader population.

Furthermore, when brands harness AI for creating visuals in advertising, we found 41% of consumers responded positively. While 20% exhibit a negative reaction, the majority remained neutral suggesting AI’s role in visual content creation holds promise for brand engagement and communication with consumers.

The release of Collage Group’s America Now report in Fall 2023 will go deeper into consumer attitudes and behaviors related to AI. This report will be unveiled at an exclusive event held in partnership with Disney Advertising on Oct.30 in New York City, our Cultural Fluency Summit.

Consumer Insights Research #2: The LGBTQ+ Backlash

Despite vocal backlash, a significant majority of Americans stand with and support the LGBTQ+ community and Pride Month activations. Our research indicates that 88% of non-LGBTQ+ people remain positive or neutral about Pride Month marketing. With this in mind, brands should not be swayed by the activities of a minority but should instead create campaigns based on our insights.

At Collage Group, we recognize the challenges brands face when navigating an increasingly polarized cultural environment, where supporting one group could potentially provoke backlash from others. By leveraging Collage Group’s deep insights into the values, passion points, and affiliations of consumers across race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, you can express brand support for causes that resonate with your consumer majority while minimizing potential backlash.

Collage Group provides strategic considerations to support your marketing efforts within the LGBTQ+ community. With Collage Group, you can:

    1. Use data to capture the values, attributes, and preferred terminology of the LGBTQ+ community. Using the right terminology is a matter of respect, demonstrating your dignity and empathy, and showing your consumers that you see them and affirm their identity.
    2. Embrace the LGBTQ+ community year-round. Demonstrate your understanding of the complexity of their life experiences and commitment to meeting their unique needs during and beyond Pride Month. Lean into culturally specific, intersectional storytelling to create and leverage cascading Halo Effect.
    3. Be Proud, but walk the walk. Pride Month is a cultural movement that celebrates the rich history and invaluable contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. Make sure you participate to connect with these diverse consumers and their allies. Earn permission to celebrate Pride, by supporting the community and the issues they care about in marketing, philanthropy, and internal company initiatives.
    4. Amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ employees and their “allies.” Create an Employee Resource Group (ERG) to engage with and support diverse employees throughout the year. Empower these groups to work to create an inclusive workplace aligned with your organization’s values.
    5. Acknowledge the significant size and cultural influence of both supportive and “ally” populations, and engage with these groups. LGBTQ+ segments skew younger, and are more racially and ethnically diverse.
    6. Be prepared for potential backlash. Develop and implement a crisis mitigation plan that coordinates the cross-functional response and allows your organization to communicate effectively and efficiently with stakeholders, including media, customers, employees, suppliers, your partners within LGBTQ+ organizations, and the public at large.

By following these strategies, your brand can authentically support and engage with the LGBTQ+ community while also resonating with a broader consumer base.

Consumer Insights Research #3: Top Brands for Parents

Collage Group analyzed and assessed 479 brands using our B-CFQ metric. Through this analysis, we have identified the top brands for parents of children based on their average B-CFQ score. This score measures a brand’s fit, relevance, memories, values, trust, and level of advocacy. You can find detailed results in our 2023 report, “The Top Brands for Parents”, which is available to our members.

To engage effectively with parents, brands should:

    1. Provide a product or service that fits consumer need – By offering practical solutions that save time and money, facilitate learning, and convey practicality in messaging.
    2. Be relevant to shared identity – By simplifying parents’ busy lives and acknowledging their challenges.
    3. Instill positive memories – Tap into nostalgia and childhood memories to create a lasting impact.
    4. Demonstrate meaningful brand values – Align the values of your brand with the values of parents. Examples include individuality, diversity, and happiness. You want to provide platforms for self-expression and shared values.
    5. Build trust – Build trust through expert endorsements and influencer partnerships.
    6. Foster consumer advocacy for your brand – Support parents and enable sharing through referral marketing.

Gatorade is an excellent example of a brand succeeding in the parent market. Known for its sports-themed beverages and food products, Gatorade adapted its offerings to cater to parents’ and their kids’ needs. 62% of parents worry that their children don’t consume enough fluids throughout the day, and 39% of parents make a special effort to drink energizing beverages.

Gatorade Fast Twitch caffeinated beverages are designed to provide an energy boost to busy and tired parents. Additionally, the brand’s product, Gatorade Fit, is a hydrating beverage for kids, containing essential vitamins, no added sugar, and electrolytes. In this way, Gatorade demonstrates a strong product fit.

In another example, Tylenol, a provider of pain relief medication, has introduced a children’s product line that enhances brand relevance. Expert endorsements further foster high trust. For example, 72% of parents state they’re caregivers to someone with a health or medical condition. Tylenol effectively connects with this consumer majority by celebrating caregivers in their marketing campaigns. Tylenol remains relevant to the situation many parents find themselves in and positions itself as a brand that helps them balance their priorities. Tylenol also builds trust by citing doctors’ endorsements of their products, an action that builds a positive reputation.

The insights we have derived from top-performing brands for parents offer essential truths for organizations seeking to engage effectively within this demographic.

Consumer Insights Research #4: Top Brands for Generation X

Generation X (currently aged 44 to 58) hold substantial market power. This generation is the second largest in the workforce (29%), and is currently at peak household income and expenditure levels.

To achieve success, brands must ensure they meet the needs of this consumer segment. Accordingly, Collage Group sought to determine which brands Gen X consumers favor to understand the priorities and pain points of this group. We employed our B-CGQ metric to identify how brands can cater to the needs of this consumer segment.

To effectively engage with Generation X, brands should:

    1. Provide a product or service that fits consumer need – Position your products as solutions for the busy lives of individuals juggling various responsibilities, emphasizing convenience and stress relief.
    2. Be relevant to shared identity – Generation X are balancing homeownership, parenthood, and caretaking responsibilities. As a brand you need to support these roles by offering products that support both themselves and their loved ones.
    3. Instill positive memories – Leverage this generation’s cultural affinity for analog and 90s pop culture references.
    4. Demonstrate similar brand values – Adapt to the evolving values of generation X, including family, mental health, and positive aging.
    5. Build trust – Build trust through consistent messaging and offering resources for vulnerable areas like parenting and mental health.
    6. Consumer advocacy for your brand – Harness this generation’s advocacy tendencies by collaborating in areas of passion such as TV/movies and sports, encouraging word-of-mouth through partnerships and expansions.

Notably, Gen X consumers are seeking brands to help alleviate stress caused by their multiple responsibilities. Our study found that 31% of Generation Xers prioritize improving their mental health and emotional well-being. Additionally, 54% of the segment wishes mental health was more normalized and discussed in society.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the top brands for Gen X consumers, as identified by Collage Group’s analysts, include companies such as Crayola, YouTube, Lego, and Netflix, which have repositioned themselves as relaxation tools.

For instance, Lego markets play for adults, which is an effective stress-relief technique, stating:

Are lego sets for adults? You bet… Spend quality time with premium LEGO sets designed specifically for adults. From wonders of the world to movie magic, intrepid space exploration to pop culture icons, luxury cars to architectural masterpieces, there’s a LEGO set waiting for you. So unplug, unbox, and unwind. This is your zone.” – Lego sets for adults, Lego

Get Deep Insights at Our Cultural Fluency Summit

Are you ready to take your brand to the next level in today’s diverse America? 

We invite Collage Group members to join us in person at our Cultural Fluency Summit, held in partnership with Disney Advertising, where you’ll gain exclusive access to the latest actionable cultural insights that will empower your brand to authentically engage with today’s changing and dynamic consumer landscape.

    • When: October 30, 2023, from 1:00pm to 7:00pm
    • Where: New York City and Virtual

Our 2023 Cultural Fluency Summit will spotlight what diverse America wants from brands on the issues that matter, as we head into the hot electoral season of 2024. This keystone presentation will reveal the changing importance of personal identity and how it factors into brand relationships. We also cover how consumers want brands to activate around major socio-cultural issues including race relations, abortion, climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, and generative AI, among other topics. For the first time, we will examine the role of political orientation across different segments to break through default assumptions of diverse-segment beliefs and values.

Research Highlights:

    • Americans Are Changing: The American population is increasingly diverse and intersectional attributes and political affiliation are now more important toward how Americans’ express their identity than ever before.
    • Progress Led to Backlash: Success expanding inclusive marketing has also, unfortunately, led to backlash from small-but-vocal segments of consumers.
    • But, Brands Must Keep Engaging: Two data-backed messaging themes provide a path for brands through backlash and toward growth: Personal protections and freedom of expression.

Overcoming the Backlash Risk: Lessons Learned from Diverse-Segment Focused Ads that Polarize Consumers

Using insights gleaned from our proprietary CultureRate database of ad and brand performance, we explore the phenomenon of backlash. This year, like no other, has seen consumers mobilize in ever increasing numbers on both sides to place brands at risk when dealing with sensitive issues like LGBTQ+ pride, transgender people’s and women’s rights. But how big is backlash and what should brands do? We provide a framework to define the “backlash terrain” and go deep into a handful of exemplars to derive powerful lessons learned.

Attendees will walk away with clear insights into the transformation of America now and the strategies brands need to win diverse audiences while reducing the risk of backlash. You’ll also learn how to build creative that connects with specific segments while embracing the broader mainstream.

If you’re not a member of Collage Group and interested in joining us at the Cultural Fluency Summit contact us to learn more about how you can gain access. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to elevate your brand’s impact and relevance.

Embrace cultural fluency, connect with diverse consumers, and lead your brand to new heights. We’ll see you there on October 30th!

Other Recent Research Articles & Insights from Collage Group

Jack McKinnon

Jack McKinnon

With more than 15 years of diverse consumer research experience, Jack Mackinnon offers deep expertise in Multicultural, Generational, LGBTQ+ consumers, and their intersection. Jack’s research extends into exploring culture-at-large, investigating broader societal trends not easily categorized into typical areas of research.

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