External Resources for Antiracist Education and Action

External Resources for Antiracist Education and Action
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To genuinely reflect and connect with multicultural consumers, brands need to lead by example and take meaningful action. It is no longer enough, or even acceptable, to simply communicate support and solidarity with communities of color without following through with concrete action.

But how do you get there?

We at Collage decided to roll up our sleeves and do what we know best – research. For this project we decided not only to run our own study on consumer perceptions of racism and responses to current events, but also to identify the best resources available to educate ourselves and provide valuable learnings for our membership. As part of our effort to help break the cycle of systemic racism, we compiled a collection of useful resources as a starting point for your own efforts.

The sources we found address three main areas: (1) the personal experiences of racism of America, (2) the role of systemic racism, and (3) what you can do in terms of activations and potential CSR partnerships. Collectively, these resources provide context and guidance on what you need to do as a brand to truly make an impact on combating racism.

1. Learn about racism at a personal level

Educate yourself through listening, reading, and watching things that will help you better understand the lived experience for Black people in America. NPR’s Code Switch offers a curated list of books, films, and podcasts for self-education. Here are some other great resources:

  1. PBS’s “Say It Out Loud” is a video series covering topics including Black pride, terminology, history, and pop culture.
  2. The National Museum of African American History and Culture provides guidance on how to begin talking about racism by exploring different topics like bias, being Anti-Racist, and supporting your community.
  3. Pew’s Social Trend Research on race in America helps shed some light into perceptions of and personal experiences with racism across ethnic segments.

2. Understand the history and impact of systemic racism

Our present moment has brought increased scrutiny on the role policing and the criminal justice system has played in perpetuating racism against Black Americans. The organization Mapping Police Violence  offers up to date data on police killings across the United States with a focus on these racial disparities. We at Collage came together to watch and discuss Ava Duvernay’s documentary 13th, which helps connect the dots between slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration in America.

But there is much else we must address beyond criminal justice reform. Economic inequality should also be top of mind, as we see Blacks and Hispanics disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. In a recent article by CNBC, Mellody Hobson, the -President and Co-CEO of Ariel Investments, and Ken Frazier, the Chairman and CEO of Merck, agree that leadership, job, and financially literacy programs can help rectify the economic imbalance we see today. Here are two additional helpful resources:

  1. The Urban Institute, research and policy organization, offers a collection of data and stories on structural racism.
  2. Brookings dives into the history and statistics behind the racial wealth gap, pointing out exactly how large and persistent it is. McKinsey extends this conversation with powerful insights identifying the unmet financial needs of Black individuals and families.
  3. In his article ‘The Difference Between First-Degree Racism and Third-Degree Racism’ John Rice explains different levels of structural racism. His organization, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, offers career support to youth from underrepresented communities (including Hispanic, Black, and Native American communities).

3. Take action

Now that you have some context, start thinking about what actions you can take as a brand and as a company. Keep in mind the importance of transparency and aligning your actions with your communications. Vox points out how some brands have received major backlash for putting out empty statements of solidarity. It is important to lead by example, so when it comes to taking action, think about what you need to do internally and how you can extend a helping hand locally and nationwide. Below are some examples of how companies can act:

    1. Internally: CNN Business highlights five concrete structural efforts companies can undertake to promote racial justice.
    2. Internally: Pull up for Change is a campaign that pushes brands to be more transparent about their internal diversity by asking them to release such information as their number of total black employees and their the demographics of leadership positions.
    3. Externally: Ben and Jerry’s has long been an unapologetic ally to the Black community. This post serves as an example of best-in-class activation and features some of their social justice partners.
    4. Externally: P&G’s #LetsTalkBias initiative includes short films “The Look” and “The Talk”, along with conversation guides to help drive change through community dialogue.

We sincerely hope you can dedicate time to digest these materials. Whether by yourself, within your teams at work, or even with your families and social spheres, we also hope these resources foster new conversations and willingness to leverage the tools at your disposal in the struggle against racism.

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How Multicultural Consumers Want Brands to Support Change: Consumer Response to Racism & Current Events

How Multicultural Consumers Want Brands to Support Change: Consumer Response to Racism & Current Events
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Entering the conversation on race can be an intimidating step for your brand, but in this day and age, it’s imperative. Our latest research on current events helps you unpack this topic and provides the guidance you need to take action. Fill out the form to download a sample of the study.

“Unprecedented times:” a label the world has become well-acquainted with since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But over the past several weeks, public outcry over heinous deaths in the Black community has given new meaning to this phrase. From George Floyd, to Breonna Taylor, to Ahmaud Arbery, and more – Black lives lost at the hands of an inherently racist system have awakened America to the reality of its dark past and broken present.

To help brands understand how Americans are responding to current events and what they can do to support the drive for racial equality, we conducted a survey-based study in June 2020. Below are a few high-level insights and implications from this research. An excerpt of the study is available for download to the right.

Four things you need to know about consumers’ views on racism and related brand actions

  1. Most Americans, but especially Black and Gen Z Americans, recognize the seriousness and pervasiveness of racism in the country

The majority of each segment considers racism to be a very serious problem with Hispanic and Black Americans over-indexing. Additionally, multicultural Americans and Gen Z across segments are more likely to recognize that race impacts how people experience life in the U.S. This is evidence these segments are more in tune with the existence of implicit and systemic racism in the country.

  1. Most Americans recognize the need for significant change to address systemic racism.

Hispanic and Black Americans are more likely than White and Asian Americans to think significant change is needed to achieve racial equality across core institutions like criminal justice, politics, education, health care, and financial systems. These segments are also more likely to think diverse areas of life such as the news, beauty standards, and sports leagues need to change significantly to better reflect the needs, wants, and preferences of non-White Americans.

  1. There is now more risk in remaining silent than taking a stand.

Most consumers expect and demand that brands take a stand. In fact, more than half of all Americans, and roughly two-thirds of Black Americans, think that companies that do not take a stand against racial inequality are part of the problem. Multicultural and Gen Z consumers are more likely to purchase products from companies that make statements about and donate money to causes and organizations they care about.

  1. This time is different: You must take concrete steps beyond statements of support.

Young consumer segments that tend to skew multicultural have well-tuned bullsh*t detectors. They see right through empty promises and virtue-signaling remarks. Brands need to back up their statements of support with concrete actions that show they are serious about driving change.

For more tips on how to be a positive agent of change and details on consumer attitudes and behaviors related to racial justice and current events, download an excerpt of the study above. Contact us for more details.

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Celebrating Pride Month in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter

Celebrating Pride Month in the Age of #BlackLivesMatter
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Ongoing protests against racism and police violence in America have refocused Pride Month on its protest roots. Read on to discover how the LGBTQ+ community is engaging in support of #BlackLivesMatter.

June is Pride Month. And there is plenty for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate – earlier this month, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that federal employment protections cover LGBTQ+ people. While only 8% of respondents to a 2019 Collage Group survey say they celebrate Pride Month regularly, this figure jumps to 18% for Gen Z. Young people are more likely than ever to be supportive of LGBTQ+ rights, and are far more likely than older generations to personally identify as LGBTQ+.

Recent years have seen ever-growing Pride Month celebrations, including parades across the world and recognition from many of the world’s biggest brands. In 2020, both the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing anti-racism protests make it impossible to celebrate Pride Month like usual. As gay rights have expanded and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community has grown, Pride Month has become something more akin to a party than a protest. This year, however, advocates encouraged people to remember that Pride has its roots in the struggle between marginalized communities, including communities of color, and the police.

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City. The patrons resisted, and protests grew violent. Stonewall attracted a diverse clientele of people across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. While the exact sequence of events is fuzzy, many credit Black and Hispanic transgender women, including activists Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie with leading the fight that evening. LGBTQ+ people and allies from the surrounding neighborhoods flocked to join the protests, which lasted five days. The Stonewall Riots represented a turning point in the gay rights movement. Afterward, gay rights organizations and publications sprang up around the country. In 1970, the LGBTQ+ community marched through New York City on the anniversary of the riots, participating in what is widely thought of as the first Pride Parade.

Recognition of this history has led to increased activism. In our recent survey on racism and current events, we found that LGBTQ+ consumers are significantly more likely than non-LGBTQ+ consumers to have engaged in direct action in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement in recent weeks.

This segment’s activism has direct implications for brands and corporations. LGBTQ+ consumers are significantly more likely than non-LGBTQ+ consumers to believe companies have a responsibility to speak out against racism and advocate for changes in government policy.

And they are more willing to support those brands that do take a stand. 64 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents said they would be “more likely to buy products from brands and companies that take a stand against police violence,” in comparison to 47 percent of non-LGBTQ+ consumers.

If your brand wants to capture market share with the LGBTQ+ segment, remember that their fight for equality and civil rights has always existed in parallel, and often hand-in-hand, with the struggle for racial justice. That’s a strategy you can employ every month, not just in June.

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How Great Brands Confront Racism and Injustice: Panel Discussion With Leaders from Coca-Cola, Google Pixel & Walt Disney Company

How Great Brands Confront Racism and Injustice: Panel Discussion With Leaders from Coca-Cola, Google Pixel & Walt Disney Company
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Augmented by early findings from our research into racism in America, our virtual panel discussion with leaders from Coca-Cola, Google Pixel and Walt Disney Company provided powerful new insights into the actions brands need to take now. Replay the entire discussion below.
 

The week of Juneteenth 2020, Collage Group was honored to host a virtual panel discussion with Daneyni Sanguinetti from Coca-Cola, Natasha Aarons from Google Pixel and Brian Walker from Walt Disney Company on the topic of how great brands are confronting racism and injustice. Our sessions was scheduled on short notice after public outrage in the wake of the killings of black individuals and the video footage of white privilege at its worst in Central Park.  We have witnessed an extraordinarily generative moment prompting citizens of all backgrounds across the country to protest for social justice, an end to police violence, and to initiate real meaningful steps toward reducing institutional racism.

As part of our session, we shared early findings from our just-fielded survey of over 2361 consumers on racism and social justice in America.  Full results of this initiative will be published in several weeks, but we provided an excerpt to set discussion with our invited guests.  Wound that the vast majority are feeling “sad,” “frustrated,” and “angry” in response to the recent events, but we also found that 20% of consumers felt “hopeful.”  Indeed, similar positive emotions are significantly stronger among the multicultural community, with Black consumers in particular feeling “motivated” and “empowered” to a degree unmatched by other consumers.

We also asked consumers to report on how big a problem racism is on a scale of 1 to 10  where 1 equates to “not a problem at all” and 10 to “a very serious problem.”  No surprise that the Black community overindexes in response to this questions with 85% scoring it in the range between 8-10, but even a solid majority of White consumers report scores in this range.  Indeed more individuals across every single intersection of race, ethnicity and generation responded with a 10, than with any other score.

The good news is that brands taking a stand are most likely to gain. We asked consumers how they would respond to brands making statements “supporting causes and organizations I care about”, and to brands “donating money to causes and organizations I care about.” The answer: the highest percentage of consumers report they are “more likely to purchase products,” with an around one in ten reporting they would react negatively.

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Four Questions to Ask Your Team About America’s Multicultural Consumers

Four Questions to Ask Your Team About America’s Multicultural Consumers
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We are at a tipping point.

American communities are advocating for change in large numbers and with resounding energy. Is your brand ready to take on the change needed to support America’s multicultural consumers? As you evaluate and prepare to take on this challenge, we suggest you ask your team these four questions:

1. Do we understand the multicultural population in America?

The U.S. demographic landscape has transformed; 129 million multicultural consumers now represent 40% of the population. A deep dive into research and insights on multicultural consumers can help you understand and capture the voice and passions of key growth segments: Black, Hispanic, and Asian.
2. How is our brand perceived among multicultural America, specifically the most influential generations?

An intrinsically diverse youth segment (ages 18-39) has emerged in the U.S. These Gen Z and Millennial consumers, referred to as the New Wave, are highly invested in their beliefs and passions, and orient toward inclusion and diversity not seen in older generations. Evaluating how well your brand(s) and advertising resonate is critical to growth.

3. Do we know how to succeed with multicultural and New Wave consumers?

Powerful traits like exceptionalism and anxiety influence how consumer segments perceive and engage with brands. Improving your understanding of these traits among multicultural consumers can help you recognize, anticipate and influence consumer decision-making in your category. From there, you can develop a framework and a plan to effectively build deep, authentic connections.

4. Are we successfully embedding Cultural Fluency throughout your organization?

Educate your team on your framework so there is an organization-wide understanding. You will need alignment on the language and tone necessary to be relevant and authentic, the themes and stories that resonate with multicultural communities, and the next steps for continued innovation and activation.

Collage Group was founded more than 10 years ago with the mission to help companies develop the cultural fluency required to understand and serve diverse America.

We currently partner with more than 200 brands across 15 industries, including Coca-Cola, Clorox, Disney, Heineken, Hulu, Google, McDonalds, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, U.S. Bank and many more.

Please contact us to find out more about how we can support you on your journey to Cultural Fluency.

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On the Use of The Terms “Black” and “Hispanic”

On the Use of The Terms “Black” and “Hispanic”
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Members often approach us to ask about the terminology used to refer to a few of the segments we cover. Should we say Black or African-American? Are people moving to Latinx and away from Hispanic? Read on for our own view on these issues.

Black vs African-American

Over the past few years, we’ve engaged in extensive conversation both internally and externally with members on which term—”Black” or “African American”—is most appropriate when referring to black individuals and African-American individuals. In the past, we’ve defaulted to the adjective “African-American” to describe the segment and also used “African Americans” as shorthand for the segment.

Recently, however, we’ve seen a shift toward the use of “black” as the primary modifier in many organizations and within academic centers and policy organizations (e.g., black Americans, black consumers). For example, Pew Charitable Trust generally uses the term “Black” as do Brookings InstituteUrban InstituteP&G and many other highly respected organizations.  Thus, we now use “black” as a modifier (e.g., black segment, black Americans) and “Black” as shorthand for the segment.

Our decision to use the term “b/Black” also issues from the fact that it is technically more correct as this term can apply to all individuals descended from the African diaspora, including those that do not identify with African or American heritage. Consider for example recent black immigrants from Africa may not identify with American heritage, or recent black immigrants from the Caribbean who may not identify with either African or American heritage.

Additionally, we’ve seen indicators that this term is more associated with the move among many black Americans to re-appropriate “blackness,” an appearance and expression the mainstream historically viewed as negative, in order to invert that dynamic, as well as empower and celebrate.  Look no further than “Black Panther,” “Black Twitter” and the show “Blackish” for examples.

It is important to note, however, that there are still many views on what terminology is the best to use. This short video from PBS’s program on black culture Say It Out Loud does a great job of drawing out all the challenges of settling on a single term to refer to a group that is internally quite diverse. And this article from economist Margaret Simms at the Urban Institute highlights the importance of acknowledging structural racism regardless of the terminology one ultimately decides on.

Thus, we think one of the best approaches companies can take when deciding which terminology they use is to be informed and thoughtful, and to remain open to candid discussion about why they’ve made the choice they make.

Hispanic/Latino-a/LatinX

Over the past few years, there has been increased discussion and controversy over the use of specific terms referring to the Hispanic population. It has long been the Collage standard to use the word “Hispanic,” but we now have data to support your own decisions in this space.

As you can see, the most popular way for Hispanic consumers to self-identify is in direct reference to their heritage country – as Mexican, Cuban, Bolivian, etc. About one third of Hispanic consumers identify in this way, but it is much more popular for the Unacculturated Hispanic segment. The second most popular term to use is “Latino” or “Latina.” These two options together have a slight plurality for Bicultural Hispanic consumers. For the Acculturated Hispanic segment, the most popular term to use is “Hispanic.” If your target Hispanic consumers have a variety of heritage countries, then your best bet will be “Hispanic” when communicating in English and “Latino” or “Latina” for communicating in Spanish.

Despite the popularity of the term “Latinx” in young, progressive, and especially queer Hispanic spaces, only one percent of Hispanic consumers opt for that term. This finding aligns with others’ research on the subject, but we wanted to dig deeper. We asked Hispanic consumers whether they felt positively, negatively, or neutral towards the use of various terms to describe people of their background, and we found that “Latinx” only has a net positive response for younger Hispanic consumers. But this margin is quite narrow, suggesting that the term is highly controversial even for the Millennial and Gen Z Hispanic segments.

And this makes sense for a few key reasons. First, the term “Latinx” is still relatively fresh in the public consciousness, and it takes time for communities to accept new terms, especially if they seem to be more popular outside of the community than inside. Second, notice that Hispanic women are more positive towards the term “Latina” than Hispanic men are towards “Latino.” We see a distinct Latina pride in the modern Hispanic consciousness, and for many “Latinx” threatens to erase that progress.

Finally, and most importantly, “Latinx” is a term of, by, and for individuals who do not feel represented by gendered language. If your consumers explicitly identify as Latinx, or if you yourself feel a connection with the term, use it! But Latinx is not your only option for non-gendered language, and despite its cache on college campuses, it is not currently a preferred or even appreciated term for most Hispanic consumers.

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Juneteenth 2020: What Black Consumers Expect of Brands and Corporations Today

Juneteenth 2020: What Black Consumers Expect of Brands and Corporations Today
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As we commemorate the end of slavery this Juneteenth, let us make clear our commitments to racial justice and equality.

On June 19th, we commemorate the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. Black communities across the country gather in Juneteenth celebrations to honor the promise that all formerly enslaved people in this country would henceforth live as free citizens. But American institutions still maintain and reinforce inequalities along racial lines, such as wealth disparities between Black and White households, fewer housing opportunities being offered to Black consumers, over-policing based on skin color, and racial disparities in the health impacts of COVID-19.

Most Americans know this to be true. In our recent survey of over 2,300 U.S. consumers, 53 percent agreed that systemic racism permeates American society today. Black consumers were the most likely to agree, at 62 percent. Does that mean almost half the country is in denial about systemic racism? No – over a quarter of the total population, including more than a fifth of the Black segment, is still unsure.

This finding suggests there is still room for brands and companies to educate both their consumers and employees on the realities of our current system.

But education is only a first step. All industries must reckon with the fact that they have for too long been part of the problem. And no one is exempt. The lion’s share of Black consumers sees room for a lot of change across various institutions and aspects of daily life to address racial inequalities. Over the past few weeks, we have seen brands take action, reconsidering mascots, cutting ties with police departments, and supporting minority-owned small businesses, to just scratch the surface.

Besides wanting companies to tackle the historical issues within their own industries, Black consumers also want to see brands taking active stances against racial inequality in other spheres. Across generations, there is high support for companies leveraging their power to change government policies and support racial justice (72%), as well as taking public stands against police violence (69%). Older Black consumers, for whom the current protests may echo previous struggles towards racial justice, tend to be even more supportive of these actions.

If your brand is not able to address these issues head-on, there is always room to support other organizations which take more active roles. We surveyed consumers on a selection of organizations fighting for racial justice, and we found that Black consumers see #BlackLivesMatter and the NAACP as the most prominent and highly regarded institutions focused on the Black community itself.

These data points provide a clearer understanding of how Black consumers perceive a variety of categories in the context of systemic racism, and some options available for you to act. But there is so much more to learn as part of your journey to becoming an agent of change. In the coming weeks, Collage will continue to release more data and external resources on consumer perceptions of racism, responses to the nationwide protests for racial justice, and actions you can take to create a more just and fair society.

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Hispanic Acculturation in 2020

Hispanic Acculturation in 2020
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The Road to Cultural Fluency begins with Collage Group. Fill out the form to download a sample of the Hispanic Acculturation insights. And, don’t miss our next webinar:

By 2030, one in every five Americans will be Hispanic. 

The larger the Hispanic population grows, the more important it becomes to understand, appreciate, and activate on the diversity found within. It is therefore imperative for brands and marketers to understand how this segment varies internally, and not just in comparison to other multicultural segments. To do this, the Collage Group provides an Acculturation Model to evaluate differences within this segment. Our model centers on language usage and cultural self-perception, with the general breakdown as follows:
  1. Acculturated Hispanic: More likely to use English across language contexts, and to identify as American over Hispanic
  2. Bicultural Hispanic: More likely to use a mix of English and Spanish across language contexts, and to identify as both American and Hispanic
  3. Unacculturated Hispanic: More likely to use Spanish across language contexts, and to identify as Hispanic over American

Just at the demographic level, we see tremendous differences across these Hispanic acculturation segments. For example, Acculturated and Bicultural Hispanic consumers are younger, more highly educated and affluent, and more likely to have been born in the United States.

But these demographic differences only go so far. To give our members a better picture, we fielded a survey in January 2020 to a representative sample of 1553 Hispanic consumers. The survey focused on answering three key questions for marketing across Hispanic acculturation segments:

  1. Language Usage – Should I Communicate in Spanish or English?
  2. Cultural Affinity – Which Cultural Cues Should I Activate On?
  3. Preferred Labels – How Should I Refer to My Consumers?

Keep reading to see what we learned about each of these topics and download the attached documents for a selection of our summary findings.

Language Usage – Should I Communicate in Spanish or English?

When it comes to language, there are two things to consider. First, the ability to speak English. We see that three quarters of the U.S. Hispanic population speak English “well” or “very well,” but this does vary by acculturation. Only six percent of Unacculturated Hispanic consumers say they speak English “very well,” while over two thirds admit they do not speak English well or even at all.

This explains why we see that Unacculturated Hispanic consumers to interact with Spanish-speaking Hispanic professionals, particularly when it comes to health care and financial services…

Cultural Affinity – Which Cultural Cues Should I Activate On?

Of course, language is not the sole differentiator across Hispanic Acculturation segments. It is also important to understand how connected Hispanic consumers feel with their cultural heritage. Over three quarters of U.S. Hispanic consumers say that they take pride in their Hispanic traditions and the influence Hispanic culture has had on America, and that it is important to keep that heritage a part of their lives.

And about the same number agree that it is important to support Hispanic-owned companies, as well as those which hire and promote Hispanic workers, stand up for the Hispanic community, and represent Hispanics authentically. There are no differences across Hispanic Acculturation for these sentiments, which means that brands showing up in these ways can cut across language barriers to resonate with the broader Hispanic community.

The key differentiator for the Acculturated Hispanic segment is that only a third of them regularly “feel Hispanic” in everyday life. Compare this to two thirds of Bicultural and 80 percent of Unacculturated Hispanic consumers. For more nuance, you can look to levels of engagement with Hispanic passion points across acculturation segments…

Preferred Labels – How Should I Refer to My Consumers?

Over the past few years, there has been increased discussion and controversy over the use of specific terms referring to the Hispanic population. It has long been the Collage standard to use the word “Hispanic,” but we now have data to support your own decisions in this space.

As you can see, the most popular way for Hispanic consumers to self-identify is in direct reference to their heritage country – as Mexican, Cuban, Bolivian, etc. About one third of Hispanic consumers identify in this way, but it is much more popular for the Unacculturated Hispanic segment. The second most popular term to use is “Latino” or “Latina.” These two options together have a slight plurality for Bicultural Hispanic consumers. For the Acculturated Hispanic segment, the most popular term to use is “Hispanic.” If your target Hispanic consumers have a variety of heritage countries, then your best bet will be “Hispanic” when communicating in English and “Latino” or “Latina” for communicating in Spanish.

Despite the popularity of the term “Latinx” in young, progressive, and especially queer Hispanic spaces, only one percent of Hispanic consumers opt for that term. This finding aligns with others’ research on the subject, but we wanted to dig deeper. We also asked Hispanic consumers whether they felt positively, negatively, or neutral towards the use of various terms to describe people of their background…

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Engaging Gen Z and Millennials in a Time of Crisis

Engaging Gen Z and Millennials in a Time of Crisis
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Learn how the current pandemic is affecting Gen Z and Millennials and how you can connect with them both now and in the future. Fill out the form to unlock more GenYZ and Millennial Insights.

Five months in and 2020 is already proving to be a year of unprecedented change: the COVID-19 pandemic, an emerging recession, and a high-stakes election.

Now more than ever, brands and companies need to understand and stay connected and relevant with Gen Z and Millennials. These are the insights you need to connect with these young consumers now and throughout the rest of the year.

COVID-19 has forced all of us to reconsider how we interact with the world. The uncertainty about how the crisis will evolve and impact us – both as individuals and as a society – has left us without guiderails for how to plan for next month, let alone past 2020. No one can predict the future, but we must be ready for whatever comes next, whenever it comes.

We at Collage have done our best to assess this situation and provide you with answers to three key questions:

1.     How will COVID-19 impact young consumers in the near and medium term?

2.     How can brands, companies, and other organizations connect with young consumers right now?

3.     How can brands, companies, and other organizations connect with young consumers beyond the pandemic?

The Emerging Recession Will Likely Have Serious Long-Term Effects for Millennial and Gen Z Consumers

Make no mistake: economic downturns have an especially harsh impact on young consumers. For example, peak and average unemployment rates during the Great Recession were much higher for people ages 25-35 than for older segments. And with May 2020 national unemployment numbers expected to reach as high as 20%, we can expect young Americans – who are more likely to be employed in industries directly impacted by social distancing – to feel the brunt of the current slowdown.

The recession isn’t just a short-term issue—negative economic effects from recessions often linger for young people, such as stagnant wages, low levels of savings, and delayed life milestones. We saw this with older Millennials after the Great Recession.

Since the current picture for Gen Z looks a lot like that for Millennials during the Great Recession, it’s safe to assume they too will feel lingering effects of this recession for many years. And Millennials, facing their second economic disaster in two decades, will likely suffer again. But a scary economic outlook for young segments does not mean that brands should shift their marketing efforts away from Millennials and Gen Z.

Millennial and Gen Z consumers will continue to represent an ever-growing share of your target markets.  No consumer brand can afford to abandon these young segments now, no matter what happens in the near term. Their loyalty will be responsible for powering your return to normal growth in the recovery and beyond. It is in your immediate and long-term interest to let Gen Z and Millennial consumers know you are on their side during these difficult times.

Below are two insights from our recent genYZ study (attached above) that help you understand how to let young consumers know you value them and are on their side.

Young Consumers Want Brands to Be Practical, Not Preachy

About 4 in 5 consumers believe that brands have a responsibility to step up in response to COVID-19. Overall, consumers consider donating medical supplies and donating products and services to people in need to be the two most valuable actions brands can take response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Young consumers, in particular, respond well to brands that take well-rounded approaches to helping the community, their customers, and their employees.

If you decide to put out messaging around COVID-19, you need to make sure it speaks to the lived realities of your audience. Feel-good messages will fall on deaf ears in communities that feel like their tragedies are not being taken seriously. Young people are especially attuned to false or empty messaging. They want to see organizations put their money where their mouth is and take concrete action on issues of activism and community welfare.

 

Financial Stress, Inclusion, and Environmental Sustainability Remain Concerns

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief other major concerns distinctly felt by young consumers. Rising unemployment feeds into longstanding and widespread concerns of not having enough money to keep up with monthly expenses. Disproportionate access to public and private resources reminds consumers of all the ways racism, sexism, and homophobia still influence societal outcomes. And seeing the effects of quarantine on air and water quality around the globe highlights the effect human activity has on global climate change and our environment.
These are issues that most Americans, but particularly young segments, are passionate about! Activating around these issues is an efficient and effective way to build and maintain resonance as the COVID-19 crisis evolves and consumer mindset shifts to the 2020 election and beyond.

Fill out the form and download the presentation to learn more about key issues facing today’s young consumers and how to activate on the topics they care about.

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We Are At A Tipping Point

We Are At A Tipping Point
CEO and co-founder David Wellisch on the protests engulfing the nation and what we at Collage are doing to help our members address the challenge.
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This week, Collage Group staff came together to discuss the protests against the police brutality, systematic racism, and racial injustice plaguing our nation.

We held an open and honest conversation where our staff and leaders told personal stories echoing the patterns of injustice. Those of us who are Black recounted stories of racism as children, and gave accounts of the tragic and painful experiences that they continue to experience in daily life.  All of us shared in the hopelessness and helplessness felt by Black America.

Our hearts ache over the many recent tragedies, from the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta, to the police shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and to the murder of George Floyd by a police officer.  

We’re also reminded of the continued patterns of the less obvious manifestations of racism: a call to police from a white woman in Central Park announcing she was being threatened by “an African-American man,” as well as the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of color.

Enough is enough.

But where do we start to break the cycle? How do we educate, inspire, and enact policies that support equal rights, justice, and humanity? We are starting from the inside.  I want to make sure that all Collagers understand the roots of racism and undertake efforts to lead by example.

The findings from our recent survey begins to illustrate the depth of the challenge ahead.

We asked Americans across racial and ethnic groups if they thought racism was a serious problem in the country today. As the chart below shows, less than 40% of white consumers recognize racism as a concern in this country.

The divergence in views may be driven by personal experience and conceptions of racism.

According to Pew Research Center, many white Americans have never been subject to the covert and implicit forms of racism that many people of color experience. Many may have an outdated understanding of racism that fails to recognize the structural issues that have never really been addressed.  School-to-prison pipelines, food deserts, mortgage discrimination, and redlining are just some of the institutional factors whose legacies have never been confronted by so many, especially older white Americans.

Overcoming structural racism will require intentional action and concerted effort by all stakeholders in American society. We each have a part to play in ensuring all Americans feel free, safe, and supported.

More than 10 years ago, Collage Group was founded to help leading consumer organizations better serve the diverse cultural fabric of America. In that spirit we are offering the following initiatives to support our members.

  1. A new survey diving deep into the attitudes and expectations consumers are reporting now with implications for brands and companies.
  2. Compilation and distillation of authoritative third-party resources on the Black experience of structural racism, provided in the actionable language marketers need.
  3. A virtual Roundtable with some of our member companies across industries who are directly engaged as individuals and professionals in this crisis, to understand how their companies are mobilizing in response.
  4. Continue to evolve our thinking about ways to galvanize the Collage membership to act in concert in a transformative initiative.

We are always a phone call away if you are in need of any other support. In these trying times, social and political voids provide an opportunity for brands, companies and their leadership to step in to encourage the change that ensures all Americans experience the liberty, peace, and justice too few can rely on.

David Wellisch

CEO

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