Start 2024 Strong with Our Top 10 Most Popular Insights of 2023

The evolution of the consumer landscape in 2023 made for quite the interesting year. More than 300 iconic American brands relied on Collage Group’s insights, tools, and expertise to engage and win diverse consumers through it all.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

January 11, 2024
David Evans – Chief Insights Officer

We navigated the emergence from COVID, consumer backlash to polarizing topics, a challenging economic climate, and much more. Throughout it all, the cultural transformation of the American consumer remained–and continues to remain–certain.

Throughout these changes, it’s clear that “the why” behind consumer behavior has never been more important.  In an America where consumers are vastly more culturally complex than even 25 years ago, brands cannot succeed unless they are willing to see consumers as people, for who they are, and where they are. This answers “the why.”

We know answering “the why” is easy to say, but hard to do. Understanding “the why” feels like it delays campaigns, requiring more time spent upfront connecting complex identities to what your brand truly stands for. But, this misses the efficiency that comes from avoiding costly and subpar optimization efforts once campaigns are in flight. Meanwhile, the most agile brands are figuring this out at the beginning of campaigns and running circles around less nimble competitors.

It’s imperative to realize that brand love no longer comes from activating around features or benefits— however awesome—and then relying on hit or miss optimization efforts to connect more deeply after the fact. The winners are grounding campaigns in deeper understanding of how cultural truths are driving consumers to choose their products. They start by meeting people for who they are, where they are. And most critically, they map what the brand truly stands for to the issues consumers care about as a function of who they are as people, and not just “what they want.”

Act now by reviewing our top ten most popular diverse consumer insights. And ask yourself: has your brand recognized these cultural truths and turned them to advantage?

1. Political Affiliation is Now a Cultural Identity

Within a landscape of political polarization, various brand action has been met with immense and often surprising backlash, leaving brands scrambling to respond. Our proprietary data and expert analysis from fall 2023 unveil the cultural values behind political polarization, demystifies backlash, and presents thematic approaches to steering through the modern minefield of social and political issues—key during an election year.

Key stats:

    • 47% of Americans say their political views have become an increasingly important part of their identity over the past few years.
    • Brands must speak to social issues to achieve growth: 72% (+14pp since 2021) of Americans think brands and companies should be involved in social and political issues in some way. 

2. Polarizing Topics Don’t Hurt Ad Performance

While advertising is one of the primary avenues for brands to take a stand, it poses significant challenges for marketers in today’s contentious cultural landscape, where social issues often spark polarizing debates. Our findings reveal that the solution is not to avoid challenging topics.  Instead, winning advertisers are engaging in ways that show understanding of consumers for who they are, not just what they want, bolding engaging with polarizing topics with emotional intelligent storytelling. Learn how differing opinions on an ad’s content, its emotional resonance, or the people and issues it showcases don’t inherently diminish its effectiveness. 

Key stat:

    • Most Americans, at 72%, assert that brands should engage with social and political issues.

3. Top Brands Don’t Back Down

Marketing and insights professionals need to double-down on efforts to engage consumers on the issues their brand authentically stands for.  This could not be clearer than on one of the most contentious cultural issues of 2023 – support for trans people. Despite dramatic (and indeed impactful) boycotts, the majority of American consumers want to see brands take a supportive stand and not back down, on even these otherwise challenging issues. It’s no surprise that when brands do back down, they suffer double backlash.

Key stats:

    • 88% of Americans support brands that support the LGBTQ+ community and Pride.
    • 63% of Americans say a brand that has committed to Transgender messaging should stick with it, even through consumer backlash.

4. Hispanic Consumers are Crucial for Success in Today’s Market

The Hispanic consumer segment is projected to nearly double in size over the next 40 years, primarily due to native-born Hispanic Americans starting families. But it’s not just the increase in population that makes engaging with Hispanic consumers a no-brainer for brands and companies—it’s also their substantial purchasing power of $2.8 trillion, a 320% increase from 2000 to 2021 Key stat:
    • 71% of Hispanic Americans still take part in traditions and culture of their family’s heritage.

5. Gen Z Fits In by Standing Out

Gen Z is well known for a range of attitudes, behaviors and motivations that have already begun rewriting the marketing playbooks created for Millennials. Gen Z are more socially tribal and financially risk averse than their life-stage would suggest, and they accept a wider range of cultural and personal differences than any prior generation. The key insight is that Gen Z consumers are blowing up the traditional dichotomy between rugged individualism and a collective same that defined all prior generations conceptions of identity. Instead Gen Z are Collectively Individual—united because of their ability to play up and celebrate their differences from some normative identity, reflecting the unrivalled diversity they have grown up with. Key stats:
    • 69% of Gen Z consumers enjoy learning from people who have different perspectives and life experiences than their own.
    • 62% of Gen Z consumers are proud of things that make them different from their peers.
    • 60% of Gen Z consumers like to express themselves through style, creativity, and more.

6. Juneteenth is the Fastest Growing Holiday in America

60 percent of Black Americans report celebrating Juneteenth; an increase of 18 percentage points since Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021. Celebration rates have risen substantially across race and ethnicity, with 20% of all Americans saying they celebrate Juneteenth, compared to only 10% in 2021. Americans are most interested in brands and companies helping to explain the holiday’s meaning and importance. Black Americans, however, are open to a variety of ways brands can celebrate the holiday. 

Key stat:

    • 41 percent of Black Americans say that all brands and companies should celebrate Juneteenth.
    • Across segments, only 8 percent of Americans say brands should never activate on Juneteenth.

7. Intersectional Consumer Segments Have Unique Perspectives and Motivations for Growth.

Brands who understand intersectional consumer segments will not only be able engage with them more effectively through their marketing and advertising but will also benefit from halo effects. Through this phenomenon, insights that authentically resonate with a particular diverse segment also connect with people outside that segment – or even the whole mainstream market.

Key stats:

    • 70% of Black Gen Z consumers say they enjoy learning from people who have different perspectives and life experiences than their own.
    • 86% of LGBTQ+ Gen Z consumers say that brands and companies should address the issue of LGBTQ+ rights in the U.S.

8. Multicultural Americans are Media Super Users — Engage Hispanic Americans on Social and Black Americans on Streaming

Multicultural Americans spend an enormous amount of time and attention in the digital media space. From social, to video, or audio streaming content, these super-users actively engage with digital content creators, other people from their own community, and even with brands. Key stats:
    • Hispanic Americans are social media super users: They spend their time across many platforms, especially those that support Hispanics, and allow them to stay connected to family in other countries.
    • Black Americans watch more TV (streaming and traditional) than others: They also uniquely prioritize cultural representation and are most comfortable with free/ad-based platforms.
    • Asian Americans use media to jumpstart their creative desires: They also reward platforms that have historically provided a creative outlet (like YouTube) with their loyalty.

9. Black Americans Identify with Their Race Even More Than Other Americans

Black Americans are especially noteworthy for their ability to impact and drive social values and commercial trends—an ability that is setting new and unforeseen expectations for brands and companies. Due to the segment’s size, growing purchasing power, and over-sized impact on trends, marketing and insights leaders cannot afford to overlook these valuable consumers. 

Key stat:

    • 69% of Black American consumers feel that their race has become an increasingly important part of their identity over the past few year.

10. CPG Brands Take Note: Climate Change and Sustainability are Top Issues for Most Consumers

The environmental impact of consumer-packaged goods (CPGs) has been extensively documented and consumers are increasingly aware of the impact CPG products have on the planet. CPG products generate waste and pollution during production, including chemical residues, air pollutants, packaging, and wastewater. This, coupled with the sheer size of the CPG sector, makes the CPG industry a critical player in building a more sustainable economy.

Key stats:

    • Climate change and sustainability are a top issue for most consumers
    • Consumers put the onus on brands to address climate change and not on individuals
    • Consumers are willing to pay a premium for more sustainable products and services

Interested in more? Contact us to learn how you can gain access to our cultural insights hub. Look back at our most popular insights from 2022.

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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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