America Now: Life Priorities Across Generations

This research is part of a series that expands on our 2021 Roundtable Presentation, America Now. Read on for a snapshot of American generations’ current priorities in life.

Understanding Americans’ priorities and life values offers crucial context into how consumers make choices. Personal values often stem from cultural context, such as each generation’s unique upbringing. While one’s outlook on life usually remains stable over time, the pandemic sparked a massive reevaluation of priorities as Americans grappled with uncertainty and unexpected life changes. Brands must stay abreast of these changing consumer tides by getting back to basics: understanding their target consumers on a core level through current attitudinal and values-based data.

Fill out the form to view a sample from our research presentation,  America Now: How We Have Changed Since 2020.

America Now

In a recent study, Collage Group asked Americans about the top three things they consider important to living a good life (such as good health, financial stability, healthy relationships, a job that they love, being well-educated, or experiencing new things). Our data shows that younger Americans tend to desire a more well-rounded lifestyle, spreading priorities across many of these areas of life. Older generations, by contrast, approach life more traditionally—strongly valuing health and finances while de-emphasizing other topics.

These generational differences can be partly explained by socio-historical context. Boomers and Gen Xers grew up during a time period where the ethos was the “American dream.” Hard work was—and still is—highly valued by them and viewed as a direct path to success.

Just decades later, Millennials and Gen Zers each came of age in a rapidly changing world with turbulent political and economic circumstances (Millennials, the 2008 recession; Gen Z, the COVID-19 pandemic). This upbringing tainted their worldview, calling the “American dream” into question entirely. In turn, younger generations cope with cynicism by taking on a “YOLO” (“you only live once”) attitude. They try to enjoy life while they can rather than wasting too much of their life working towards a version of success they’ll never attain.

While historical context explains a core part of each generation’s outlook on life, it doesn’t mean that people’s attitudes and values are locked in permanently. Times of massive change and uncertainty, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can be the spark for deep realignment of social values. We are already seeing this trend in our data.

For example, Gen X and Boomers, two generations that have historically valued more traditional life goals and prioritized work over happiness. When asked explicitly about how their personal and professional priorities changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, two-thirds say that being happy and healthy is more important than it was a year prior. In fact, the data is on par with Gen Z and Millennials. This is evidence of values shifting and even converging across generations. Moreover, this data point indicates that wellness is a growing area of opportunity for the total market despite conventional wisdom that it’s a Gen Z and Millennial fad.

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America Now: Gen Z Women Key Issue – Sexism

This research is part of a series that expands on our 2021 Roundtable Presentation, America Now. Read on to learn how Gen Z women stand out for their prioritization of reducing sexism.

2017 was a pivotal year for women in the U.S. The day after President Trump was inaugurated, millions of Americans across the U.S. participated in the largest single-day protest – The Women’s March – to support gender equality and protest the President’s anti-women statements. Later that year, the #MeToo movement gained momentum as more women broke their silence as survivors of sexual abuse and revealed the prevalence of sexual violence against women. With increased visibility on women’s issues, women have reported that their gender identity has become more important to them over the past few years. This is especially true of Gen Z women; 55% agree that their gender is now a more important aspect of their identity than it used to be. Brands can better engage with consumers by understanding how Americans’ identities shape their views on social and political issues, and what they expect from brands like yours in engaging with these issues.

In a recent study, Collage Group asked Americans what three social and political issues are most important to them and found that Gen Z women are unique in wanting to see the reduction of sexism in society. 33% of Gen Z women feel reducing sexism is one of the most important social or political issues today, compared to just 10% of Millennial women, 7% of Gen X women, and 3% of Boomer women.

Gen Z women’s perceptions on the importance of reducing sexism is even more pronounced when it comes to their support of brands. Over half of Gen Z women will reward brands that support reducing sexism. And while older women tend to prioritize other social and political issues over sexism, many are still more likely to support brands that will confront sexism.

Across generations, women want brands to address sexism by paying them equally to men for the same jobs and offering training for employees so they can identify sexism and combat it. Gen Z women, however, stand out from older women by wanting brands to address sexism in other ways too. Half of Gen Z women also want brands to hire women to leadership positions. And over one in four want brands to make public statements about sexism and donate money to organizations that work to reduce sexism.

Contact us to find out how you can access the full America Now report with these insights and much more.

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Revealed: Top 20 Ads and Brands Resonating Across Diverse America

Lysol, Netflix, Google, and Band-Aid rank among the most Culturally Fluent brands in our analysis of more than 500 brands and 200 ads across the last 18 months.

Collage Group is pleased to unveil our rankings of the more than 500 brands and 200 ads evaluated as part of our extensive CultureRate:Brand and CultureRate:Ad database. Lysol, Netflix, Google, and Band-Aid rank among the most Culturally Fluent brands, while Dove, National Geographic, Oreo and Campbell’s produced the most Culturally Fluent ad creative.

Fill out the form below to access the Top 20 Brands and Ads ranked as part of our CultureRate research.

Top Ten Ads and Brands

The research includes more than 20 industries across 100 subcategories, and is organized into 10 broad sectors, including: Alcoholic Beverages, Automotive, Education, Financial Services & Banking, Food & Beverages, Health & Wellness, Household Products, Media & Telecom, Personal Products, and Retail & QSR.

The rankings follow the release of new U.S. Census data that shows America is much more racially and ethnically diverse than ever. For example, the multiracial population (individuals reporting more than one race) jumped 276% over the past decade—from 9 million in 2010 to 33.8 million in 2020.

“Consumers are expecting more of brands as cultural transformation of the American consumer accelerates,” says David Wellisch, Collage Group Co-Founder and CEO. “Given the rapidly changing demographic landscape, a deep understanding of cultural resonance and its drivers is an essential capacity to create a winning brand strategy in diverse America.”

Collage Group’s proprietary measurement and benchmarketing tool, CultureRate, offers brands a superior way to measure brand and ad Cultural Fluency–the organizational ability to use culture to efficiently and effectively connect across consumer segments.

CultureRate research centers on a key metric referred to as the Cultural Fluency Quotient (CFQ). CFQ scores are designed specifically to measure cultural resonance across segments for both brands (B-CFQ) and ads (A-CFQ). Researchers developed the measurement by testing 20 distinct components scores in multiple combinations to accurately measure cultural resonance while providing predictive insight into higher purchase intent and brand favorability. CFQ scores provide marketing and insights professionals with a tool to gauge their brand or ad cultural fluency and evaluate the competitive landscape.

Top Ten Brands for Cultural Fluency* include:


1.   Lysol

2.   Netflix

3.   YouTube

3.   M&M’s

3.   Clorox

4.   Band-Aid

4.   Dawn

5.   Google

6.   Amazon

7. Hershey’s

Top 15 Ads for Cultural Fluency* include:


1.   Dove: All Hair is Beautiful

2.   Oreo: Stay Home, Stay Playful

2.   National Geographic: Reimaging Dinosaurs

2.   Dove: Skin Stories

2.   Lysol: Questions Need Answers

3.   Frito-Lay: Let’s Summer

3.   Campbell’s: Snowbuddy

3.   Disney: Magic is Here

4.   Tropicana: Breakfast Across America

4.   Dunkin’: Welcome to Dunkin’

4.   Clorox: Caregivers – Bodega

4.    Subaru: Crosstrek Girl Trip

4.   Coca-Cola: History Shakers

4.   McCormick: Taco Night

4.   Cascade: Do It Every Night With Cascade Platinum

*Only brands with an average awareness of over 60 respondents per segment are included to avoid low sample issues. Several brands and ads tied for the top rankings. Collage Group’s CultureRate Explorer tool includes all rankings.

CFQ reports ranking the top brands and ads are now available for each major industry in Collage Group’s CultureRate Explorer tool, with deep dive reports available exclusively for subscribers of Collage Group’s cultural intelligence platforms. Each deep dive report includes overall category CFQ rankings by consumer segment and acculturation levels, as well as Cultural Reach scores that show how many segments with whom an ad or brand is resonant. Where a robust sample is available, sub-category rankings are also included.

“These reports are just one of the many ways Collage Group supports its members,” says David Evans, Collage Group Chief Insights Officer. “When coupled with Cultural Traits, Passion Points and the combined 78 million insights in our cultural intelligence platform, more than 200 of America’s leading brands are leveraging CultureRate to effectively and efficiently leapfrog competitors to engage and win America’s diverse consumers.”

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Media Consumption Across Generations

Optimize your brand’s connection with consumers across generations by understanding where they consume media content, and why they’re going there to do so. Keep reading for key insights and a downloadable deck on social media, visual entertainment, and audio streaming.

Media is a major aspect of consumers’ everyday lives. Americans spend a significant amount of their time and attention consuming social media, visual entertainment, and audio streaming content. For brands and advertisers across industries to succeed, they need to understand where people are going to consume media content, and why they’re going there.

  • Are they following specific topics?
  • Are they following influencers?
  • Are they looking for products to purchase?
  • Are they just killing time?
  • Is it device dependent?
  • Does it depend on the race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender of the characters or hosts?

Collage Group’s 2021 Media Study answers these questions by providing granular insights across generations. Our research reveals the specific platforms American media users go to, and what they’re using them for. The data dives deep into content and platform drivers—spanning categories, passion points, and identity attributes.

Fill out the form to download an excerpt of our Media Consumption Across Generations presentation. Read below for key insights. 

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Social Media

Key Insight: Influencers drive younger generations to social media just as much as keeping up with friends and family.

This is paramount to understanding Gen Z and Millennial behavior online. For instance, these generations tend to be much more commerce-focused on social media. This also unlocks insight on why specific sites are used. Instagram is the favored platform for keeping up with influencers, much more so than it’s being used to follow real life connections, like friends and family.

Gen Z Media Consumption Chart

Visual Media

Key Insight: “Single-show sign-ups” explain why younger generations, particularly Millennials, use so many platforms.

Gen Z and Millennials are especially particular about the content they consume. They know what they want, and they’ll go to greater lengths to get it. Even if it means subscribing to an entire streaming service just for one show. Movies and shows are a strong passion point for these generations, and their desire to be in-the-know on pop culture accelerates this behavior.

Streaming Service Subscription Chart

Audio Media

Key Insight: Millennials (the most enthusiastic podcast listeners) are busy with careers and kids, so they tune in while doing other tasks.

Almost three-quarters of Millennials listen to podcasts and radio shows while driving, studying, working, or doing chores. For them, it’s a way to use their time efficiently while also carving out some “me time” to listen to shows they like. In the car, AM/FM radio remains most common, with Spotify a strong runner-up. While multitasking generally, Millennials use a variety of platforms. Additions to their audio streaming repertoire include social media sites like YouTube and Pandora.

Audio Media Platform Preference Chart

Find the full set of research includes category-specific data across generations, as well as race, ethnicity, sexuality and gender, and searchable data on our Instant Insights tool–all available to members of Collage Group cultural intelligence platforms.

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Essentials of Millennial Consumers

Want to better connect with Millennials? Read on for five things your brand needs to know to authentically connect with the Millennial generational cohort.

Collage Group’s Essentials of Millennial consumers explores three areas of our consumer fundamentals research: demographics, identity, and Cultural Traits. Read below for several key insights and then download the sample research deck to dive deeper into our Millennial Cultural Traits.

1. It is clear: Younger American generations are more diverse than older generations.

The country is projected to reach Majority Minority status (where the white population dips below 50%) in about 30 years, but that demographic shift is being driven by young Americans now. Gen Xers saw the biggest increase in diversity from older generations, but Millennials saw even larger levels of diversity. Millennial’s intrinsic diversity means also that they have higher expectations for brands to go beyond simple inclusive representation in their marketing efforts to demonstrate true cultural nuance and understanding.

2. Due to shifts in society, including financial constraints, Millennials have delayed many life milestones. When it comes to marriage, Millennials have waited much longer than older generations to tie the knot.

 Compared to older Boomers, Millennials are now getting married nearly eight years later in life. Millennial women who marry are doing so around 28 years old (compared to Boomer women at just 21 years old) and Millennial men tend to be nearly 31 years old (compared to Boomer men at 23 years old) when they walk down the aisle.

3. Millennials are more likely than all other generations to say that their racial/ethnic identities feel more important today than ever.

This is even higher than the more diverse Gen Z generation. Gen X Americans share this sentiment with Millennials making this issue less about old vs. young and more about generational context. Boomers may not be reflecting on race in the same way as other generations due to their limited internal diversity. Gen Z may be more focused on intersections of race, sexuality, age, and class bypassing more generic demographic categories like race. Millennials and Gen X are more diverse than Boomers and have experienced a major shifting in how society views and engages with race and ethnicity. The result is a generation more focused on their own racial/ethnic identities.

 Millennials score the highest of all generations in the Cultural Attributes of Adventurousness and Exceptionalism. Millennials also part ways with Gen Z by scoring significantly higher in Independence. Millennials’ Cultural Attributes highlight a generation that values new experiences, sees their worldview as unique, and are more likely than Gen Z to act independently from those around them.

5. Brands can better connect with Millennials by leveraging the cohort’s Group Traits.

Four key Group Traits for better engaging with Millennials include: Ambition, Go-with-the-Flow, Cosmopolitan, and Tuned-in. These traits can be used to create more authentic advertising, connect across cohorts through shared traits, and identify opportunities to better position your brand.

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Consumer Holidays Trends: Thanksgiving 2021

How will Americans prepare for and celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

In a not-so-post-pandemic era, it’s essential for brands to keep an eye on the behaviors and attitudes surrounding special occasions. Insights from Collage Group’s Holidays & Occasions research enables you to communicate with your audience authentically and effectively. Fill out the form below to download a sample of the study. 

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The mass majority of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. In our most recent round of surveys fielded in May 2021, respondents gave us fascinating insights around the following topics: 

• What traditional and non-traditional foods get included in Thanksgiving celebrations

• How certain segments react to stress during the holidays 

• Which segment is most likely to have a “friendsgiving

Collage Group helps marketers and insights leaders connect around this occasion by providing insights that clarify the similarities and differences in how American consumers across diverse segments prepare for and experience Thanksgiving. These insights allow for more efficient and effective activations that capture greater mind and market share.

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How Consumers Across Generations Celebrate Halloween

Learn how consumers across generational segments interact with and celebrate Halloween.

Our latest Holidays & Occasions research covers major attitudes and behaviors of Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers around Halloween. Read on for a few insights from this year’s study. The full report is available to members of Collage Group’s Generations program. 

1. Halloween is most highly celebrated by Gen Z and becomes less popular with age.

71% of Americans celebrate Halloween.

2. Most Americans likely have self-expression in mind when preparing for and celebrating halloween.

The Millennial and Gen X Segments Are Most Likely to Hold this View.

3. Younger Halloween celebrants are more likely to associate the holiday with a party atmosphere.

4. Millennial Americans are most likely to carve pumpkins as part of their Halloween celebration.

Almost Half of Gen Z and Millennials Go to Haunted Houses during the Halloween Season.

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Become Culturally Fluent & Future-Proof Your Brand for Growth | IDEA Forum Panel

At the 2021 IDEA Forum, hosted by the Insights Association, we were honored to host two special sessions centered on helping brands continue their journey to cultural fluency.

Explore an excerpt of the Multicultural Terminology report. This is a selection of a much larger, deep dive available to members of the Multicultural consumer research platform.

Attendees heard directly from Collage Group members during “Become Culturally Fluent and Future-Proof Your Brand for Growth.” In a panel hosted by Collage Group CEO and Co-Founder David Wellisch, brand leaders shared how they are seizing this moment to embrace cultural fluency as the foundation of their work.

A special thank you to our esteemed panelists:

Lisa Frison, Enterprise Strategic Diverse Initiatives Leader at Wells Fargo & Company. In her role, Lisa leads cross-functional teams responsible for strategies and initiatives that identify, attract, and retain new and existing relationships for diverse customers.

Daniel Ramos, Director of Nickelodeon Digital Consumer Insights at ViacomCBS. In his role, Daniel tracks digital trends among families, provides user-centered research support, and conducts landscape studies on education, gaming, apps, podcasts, smart speakers and more. His most important and impactful work to date is a 2-year-long study on kids and race/ethnicity titled “Shades of Us.”

Aaron Steele, Senior Director of Analytics & Insights at Procter & Gamble. As part of his role, Aaron co-leads some of the total company equality and inclusion efforts. He has spent 15 years at P&G, dedicating his work to nine iconic brands, including Tide, Bounty, Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Herbal Essences, Febreze, Dawn and Cascade.

Watch the replay to hear panelist answers to key questions, including:

• Do corporations have a responsibility to support consumers across race and ethnicity, generation, sexual orientation, and gender? Can brands afford to remain on the sidelines?

• What steps you are taking to authentically engage and support America’s diverse consumers, amplify their voices, and drive change?

• What is the current relationship between Diversity and Inclusion and Diverse Segment Marketing – and do you think that will change in the future?

• What do you think diverse consumer segments – and the majority of Americans – are looking for from brands?

• How do we maintain this momentum for change?

Collage Group leaders dove deeper in a second session, “Understanding & Embracing Multicultural Terminology,” where attendees learned how to engage culture with a deep understanding of the words that define it.

Presenters, Zekeera Belton, Vice President of Client Services and Diverse Segment Strategist and Bryan Miller, PhD, Senior Director of Product and Content, shared insights into consumer reaction to terms like Latinx and BIPOC, the nuances of Hispanic vs. Latino and Black vs. African American. They also explored the labels and/or identifiers each consumer segment prefers and double-click by age, gender and more. Attendees walked away with enhanced vocabulary and insights for cultural resonance beyond specific groups to cultural fluency across many diverse consumer audiences.

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How Consumers Engage with Cookouts and Barbecues

Learn how Americans across racial and ethnic segments prepare for and experience cookouts and barbecues.

Brands are constantly tapping into the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors surrounding consumer holidays and occasions. This summer, most consumers across segments are looking forward to barbecues and cookouts. In Welcome to the Traegerhood, Traeger Grill reminds us that cookouts and barbecues have the power to create a sense of community–a concept much longed for in the midst of the pandemic. Brands can look to this commercial as an example of relevant, effective storytelling.

The following consumer insights belong to a series of Collage Group reports on holidays and occasions. This targeted research allows for more efficient and effective brand activations that capture greater mind and market share.

1. Multicultural Americans Are More Likely to Have a Family Sauce or Special Recipe for Barbecues and Cookouts

39% of Americans say their family has  a special sauce or recipe for cookouts or barbecues.

Acculturated Hispanics are least likely (36%H) to say their family has a special sauce or recipe for cookouts or barbecues,
compared to Unacculturated (54%) and Bicultural (60%) Hispanics.

2. Millennials Take the Most Active Role in Food Preparation at Barbecues.

The Differences among Generations Are Likely Tied to Life Stage.

3. Food Is the Star of the Show—and Most Important Element—of Most Americans’ Cookouts.

Music Is More Likely to Be a Crucial Component of Cookouts for LGBTQ+ Americans.

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Consumer Attitudes Towards the Olympics

Collage Group helps marketers and insights leaders connect around this occasion by providing insights that clarify the similarities and differences in how American consumers across diverse segments prepare for and experience the Olympics.

The world’s most unifying sporting event is right around the corner. The Olympics, taking place in Tokyo this year, are one occasion brands need to understand to fully capture diverse America’s attention.

One of this year’s most moving campaigns comes from consumer giant Proctor & Gamble, whose #LeadWithLove campaign hits every cultural mark. Their latest commercial, Love Leads to Good, brings awareness around the Olympic games through inclusive casting and thoughtful storytelling. 

The following consumer insights belong to a series of Collage Group reports on holidays and occasions. This targeted research allows for more efficient and effective brand activations that capture greater mind and market share.

1. Hispanic Americans Are More Likely to Believe the Olympics Brings Unity across Different Countries.

According to our most recent study, 76% of Americans believe the Olympics are a great way to bring unity across different countries.

2. Most Americans Take Advantage of the Olympics to Watch Sports outside Their Typical Viewing Habits.

However, Gen Z is notably less likely to expand their viewership to new sports.

3. Three in Four Multicultural Americans Agree that the Olympics Are a Great Way to Celebrate Diversity.

The Olympics are a great way to celebrate diversity.

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