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,” says David Wellisch, Collage Group CEO and Co-Founder. “The numbers are even more striking when we look by specific issues. For example, 85% 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 released publicly this week by diverse consumer insights company, Collage Group. In the report, America Now: How We Have Changed Since 2020, researchers, led by Chief Product Officer David Evans, Senior Director of Product & Content Bryan Miller, PhD, and Director of Product & Content Jack Mackinnon, unveil changes to diverse consumer attitudes at a key juncture in American history. The results come from a survey fielded in September 2021 of 3,785 Americans, representing Americans across race, ethnicity, generation, sexuality and gender.
1. Most Americans (58%) 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%) of Americans want brands to play a role in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviating its impact.
- The majority (59%) of Americans believe corporations bear the responsibility of fighting climate change – not individuals.
- The majority (55%) 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% increase on average in 2021 comes on top of a 2020 baseline of ~52% of consumers.
3. Empathetic Gen Z Support Black and LGBTQ+ Americans Much More Than Older Generations (+15%)
- The majority of Gen Z consumers wants brands to support women (56%) and Black Americans (55%).
- Inaction is risky for brands with younger consumers, as 26% 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%)
- Nearly two-thirds of Americans are still concerned about COVID-19, with Asian Americans feeling the most concern at 72%, up 4% since 2020.
- Most Americans (64%) 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%) 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%), saving money (33%) and supporting family and community (27%) are now their top priorities.
- The majority (54%) 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,” says David Wellisch. “But our research illustrates that not engaging is not an option, especially during challenging times. This is consumer expectation.”