Almost every company in the U.S. has been asking, since the oldest of the so-called millennial generation (born 1980-2000) was in diapers: How do we reach millennials? It’s hard to go a day without experiencing a news story asking what do millennials want – usually featuring anecdotal evidence that proves This One Thing totally “explains” millennials.Here are some statistics about this group:
- At 77 million, millennials make up about a quarter of the U.S. population.
- Forty-three percent are nonwhite, the largest share of any generation, according to Pew Research.
- They wield about $1.3 trillion in annual buying power.
- More than 85 percent of millennials in the U.S. own smartphones, and they touch those phones about 45 times a day.
But millennials can’t – and won’t – be easily categorized, not by their use of technology, nor by their attitudes or their racial, ethnic or sexual identities. Try to label them and they will balk. Marketers who understand that younger Americans are in no way a homogenous group will be far better positioned to reach them. And marketers shouldn’t just assume that they should just reach out via smartphone apps and forget everything else.
Marketers must not only understand the wide range of attitudes of this highly diverse and influential segment of American society, they must accurately gauge millennials’ usage of products and services, identify opportunities for new products, and understand reactions to brand marketing and media communications.
New American Dimensions has conducted extensive qualitative and quantitative research that has helped marketers speak their language. Or we should say languages: those born after 1980 are more likely to be fluent in more than one language and are more likely to have a multicultural identity, than other age cohorts.
The Hispanic market is the fastest-growing segment of consumers in the United States, with a tremendous $1.5 trillion in buying power, according to Nielsen. The Hispanic segment is very young: the median age of U.S. Hispanics is 27, a decade younger than the national median, and although the majority can still be found in California, Florida, Texas and New York, the population is rapidly dispersing around the nation.
They are diverse, with two thirds hailing from Mexico and the rest tracing their linage to the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Even within a country of origin, American Hispanics have a wide range of attitudes, habits and behaviors. Marketers who want to reach this diverse population must fully understand their nuanced preferences and personal stories.
Marketing to Hispanics/Latinos used to be a niche effort, and you addressed them in Spanish. Today, a majority Hispanics were born in the United States and less than a quarter of Hispanics under thirty prefer Spanish to English. Some prefer to switch between English and Spanish. Now there is an urgent need for ethnic and cross-cultural marketing that addresses the new mainstream of U.S. Hispanic Latinos, from automobiles to food, from consumer technology to financial products.
Understanding the most effective ways to reach this segment requires sound research, and a company with a history of generating meaningful insights across a greater variety of Latinos, insight that considers not only language preferences and country of origin, but also age, acculturation, family status and a variety of nuanced preferences within each sub-group.
We are keen observers of relationships and social dynamics – important for every group and absolutely crucial to understanding Hispanics. We are closely attuned to cultural differences and the range of linguistic variation across the heterogeneous U.S. Hispanic population, and our proprietary research methodologies are proven to encourage interpersonal interaction and elicit valuable information about the multiplicity of opinions, hopes, dreams and desires of this diverse and changing group.
The LGBT segment is in growing in stature and influence in the U.S. And, as with mainstream attitudes on LGBT civil rights issues like same-sex marriage, the LGBT community is rapidly evolving. It is a group that wants to be included in the consumer landscape and portrayed accurately – as professional, loving, responsible, multicultural people with varied interests, family situations, and morals.
Research by Harris Interactive in 2013 showed that up to seven percent of the adult U.S. population was willing to self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender. That translates to between 15-16 million adults. The buying power of LGBT Americans is projected to be $830 billion, based on a recent analysis by Witek Communications.
Many marketers are just now discovering the immense buying power and influence of this segment. But they’re not exactly sure how to reach out to this segment in a way that affirms their identities without pandering. The LGBT category is diverse in ethnicity and socioeconomic status, and an incredibly loyal constituency – provided marketers understand how to reach them. And more than any other segment, LGBTs look at not just what a company says but what it does. LGBTs do their research: a company with a gay- friendly ad but not-so-friendly policies for its LGBT employees isn’t likely to win favor with this group.
For more than fifteen years, New American Dimensions has been analyzing the evolution of LGBT identity. We’ve conducted vanguard studies on the segment that showed marketers this group’s strongly held opinions about media representation, multiple identities, and preferences about the way they want to be treated by companies. With our broad and deep experience in surveying LGBTs that cross racial and ethnic boundaries, we can give marketers a more nuanced and more helpful understanding of their identities, tastes, and needs.
African Americans have a powerful, unique cultural identity in American society, and they have been increasingly on the leading edge for shaping major cultural trends. Comprising more than 13 percent of the total U.S. population, around 43 million strong – and current buying power of $1 trillion that is forecasted to reach $1.3 trillion by the year 2017 – African-Americans are more important to marketers than ever.According to a recent report by Nielsen, African-Americans:
- Are more aggressive consumers of media and they shop more frequently.
- Watch more television (37%), purchase more ethnic beauty and grooming products (nine times more), read more financial magazines (28%) and spend more than twice the time at hosted websites than any other group.
- Make more shopping trips per year than the total U.S. total market and shop more frequently at drug stores, convenience stores, and dollar stores.
Not only are their purchasing behaviors unique, African-Americans also have distinct behaviors in the digital and mobile spheres: they are more likely to spend time on education/career websites and more likely to own a smartphone than the U.S. population generally.
But just knowing the general statistics isn’t enough. Marketers must understand that traditional research methods are unlikely to capture the strength of cultural identity and complexity and depth of opinions and characteristics of this group. Capturing this complexity requires in-depth, culturally relevant research – the kind New American Dimensions has been doing for many years.
New American Dimensions has a long history of qualitative and quantitative research – and studies that blend both – on the African American segment. On the qualitative side, our extensive series of informal “barbershop sessions” encouraged black men to speak more freely about marketing and media. With quantitative research, we are scrupulous about developing questions and groups that help African Americans really be heard and understood.
Although Asian Americans comprise only six percent of the U.S. population, with their general affluence – their median income is 34 percent higher than the U.S. average – they are a potentially profitable segment for businesses that know how to reach them.
At 17 million, this audience represents a growing opportunity. Asian American buying power reached more than $700 billion in 2013 and is expected to approach $1 trillion by 2018.2 As marketers define their total market strategies, reaching the Asian American audience is vital to success.
Marketers should never consider Asian Americans to be a monolithic group. In fact, they are as diverse as a segment can be. Three-quarters of Asian American adults are immigrants, and 90 percent of all Asian Americans come from six nationality groups, each with their own cultural and linguistic traditions.
You wouldn’t want to use the same strategies to influence someone from a Korean background as you would with someone from India. Or Vietnam. Or China. Or the Philippines. We know this, because New American Dimensions has conducted extensive research into the nuances of attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and consumer behaviors of people from all of these nationalities, and more.
The Asian American segment is a convenient shorthand for marketers, but it doesn’t fully encompass the diversity of language, culture and experience of Americans who claim an Asian ethnicity. Marketers who don't get this – or don't have the time or resources to get it – may have some success in marketing to this segment. But they could do better, much better. Understanding this segment requires subtlety, nuance and knowledge.
With extensive experience research Asian Americans, as well as the multiplicity of viewpoints, ideologies and motivations that can be found in this population, New American Dimensions has a finger on the pulse of the U.S. Asian American communities.