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Most Americans want businesses to engage in social and political issues

by | Nov 18, 2021 | Public Relations

For years, multicultural Americans have driven all the country’s population growth and have added trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy. These changes can be seen everywhere from food and media to healthcare and financial services, and so much more. Cultural Fluency is the key to authentically connect with American consumers across race and ethnicity. But, this is only the starting point, finds new research from diverse consumer insights firm Collage Group.

Cultures evolve through generational change and forces encompassing how we identify ourselves, including gender, sexuality, family structures and much more. Navigating these changes can be challenging, even for the most seasoned and culturally aware brands, reveals the firm’s new report, America Now: How We Have Changed Since 2020.

American consumers are experiencing a second year of unprecedented change, giving 2020 solid competition for an emerging set of challenges for U.S. businesses. Political polarization, COVID-19, race relations, immigration, LGBTQ+ rights and climate change have been top of mind for consumers this year—leading to shifts in consumer expectations of businesses.

“Most Americans want brands to engage in social and political issues,” said David Wellisch, Collage Group CEO and co-founder, in a news release. “The numbers are even more striking when we look by specific issues. For example, 85 percent of Americans want brands to play a role in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviating its impact. And, then there’s the stick—we see younger Americans, bicultural Hispanics, and Black Americans are much more willing to penalize brands for non-action on issues they see as important.”

These are just a few of the many datapoints on shifts in American consumer behaviors since 2020 in the report, led by Chief Product Officer David Evans, Senior Director of Product & Content Bryan Miller, PhD, and Director of Product & Content Jack Mackinnon, unveiling changes to diverse consumer attitudes at a key juncture in American history.

Key insights illuminated in the research include:

1. Most Americans (58 percent) want brands to engage in social and political issues

  • Stopping COVID-19, improving race relations and halting climate change are the top three social and political issues consumers want brands to support.
  • The majority (85 percent) of Americans want brands to play a role in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviating its impact.
  • The majority (59 percent) of Americans believe corporations bear the responsibility of fighting climate change—not individuals.
  • The majority (55 percent) of consumers across all generations acknowledge the urgency of taking action on climate change.

2. Race and ethnicity is the #1 way multicultural americans self-identify, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality

  • Race and Hispanic ethnicity are the most common self-descriptors for multicultural Americans, ranking higher than personality, age/life stage, country of origin, being American, sexuality, gender and more.
  • Multicultural Americans report an increased interest in buying from brands that support people of their racial and ethnic background—an ~11 percent increase on average in 2021 comes on top of a 2020 baseline of ~52 percent of consumers.

3. Empathetic Gen Z support Black and LGBTQ+ Americans much more than older generations (+15 percent)

  • The majority of Gen Z consumers wants brands to support women (56 percent) and Black Americans (55 percent).
  • Inaction is risky for brands with younger consumers, as 26 percent of Gen Z would stop using or buying a brand if it did not take a stance on an important issue.

4. COVID-19 worries remain for two-thirds of Americans, and their concern is tied primarily to economic factors (64 percent)

  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans are still concerned about COVID-19, with Asian Americans feeling the most concern at 72 percent, up 4 percent since 2020.
  • Most Americans (64 percent) are concerned they may not have enough money to keep up with monthly expenses; Hispanic Americans are the most concerned with 3 in 4 (74 percent) citing the concern.

5. Many multicultural Americans have reprioritized what matters most to them vs. one year ago

  • Multicultural Americans say being happy and healthy (41 percent), saving money (33 percent) and supporting family and community (27 percent) are now their top priorities.
  • The majority (54 percent) of Hispanic Americans say being healthy and happy is much more important to them today than it was one year ago.

“Engaging authentically with an increasingly diverse America can be hard, and missteps are easy,” said Wellisch. “But our research illustrates that not engaging is not an option, especially during challenging times. This is consumer expectation.”

The results come from a survey fielded in September 2021 of 3,785 Americans, representing Americans across race, ethnicity, generation, sexuality and gender.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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