The 2019 Fuse Multicultural Insider, commissioned by Fuse and conducted by NRG, sampled 1,500 emerging adults ages 18-35 and 500 GenXers ages 36-49, took a deep dive into their worldview during a time of great division, as well as their relationships with and expectations of brands and media.
Among the key findings: millennials see the notion of “unity” as 2X more valuable than diversity (and 55% of millennials agree “diversity isn’t inclusive enough”). The We Generation has authentic passion and activism around key societal issues that place an emphasis on human rights over individual ones, even if they don’t affect them personally; for example, cisgender and straight people joining the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, men participating in “women’s” marches, and young people of all races speaking out against racial inequality.
“While respecting each other’s culture is important to this generation, their shared sensibilities and passions have deeply bonded them and encouraged them to look past these once-limiting boundaries,” said Mark McIntire, Fuse Media head of marketing. “Millennials understand the power of being united, and want to work together to improve the world for themselves and future generations. They also expect companies that are looking to engage with them to follow suit. We are sharing these findings with our brand and agency partners, as we help them identify the best opportunities to reach this ‘We Generation.’”
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
The study also showed that millennials find brands more trustworthy than social media influencers/celebrities and more influential than the government. So how can brands live up to that trust? Prioritize inclusion, as they do, understand they share passions with others who don’t necessarily look like them, and be bold by speaking out on key issues.
Some findings for brands to consider when marketing to the We Generation:
- 88% of millennials “like when a brand appeals to more than one person” while 85% (and 90% of Hispanic millennials) agree “a brand should be something everyone can enjoy.”
- 85% of millennials believe brands should market to people based on interests and passions, and not by what they look like.
- 81% of millennials (and 86% of African Americans) like when brands give underrepresented groups a platform and a voice.
- 77% of millennials - and 79% of those ages 18-24 - say their favorite brands value inclusivity.
Also demonstrating the value of unity to millennials, when asked about the most important characteristics they want to see in ads from their favorite brands:
- 79% of millennials said diverse, while 78% said representative of me.
- 65% said feature people different than me, with 63% saying features people like me.
More than half (55%) of millennials say that taking a stand on political issues is an important characteristic for brands to have, two thirds (67%) find it important for them to take a stand on social issues and 67% also say it's important for them to take risks. In fact, 72% of millennials like when brands take a clear stance on social and cultural issues (vs 63% of GenXers), and 63% expect brands to speak out on social and cultural issues whether I agree with it or not” (vs. 54% of GenXers). Talk about unity!
Brands should also be careful not to appear as “just going through the motions.” 85% of millennials agree that “it’s obvious when brands try too hard to appear inclusive or diverse” and 84% agree that “sometimes it feels like brands are just checking a box when it comes to diversity.”
Unity Score Shows Strongest Brands for Millennials
Fuse Media and NRG used this research to develop a new “Unity Score” to determine which brands are best connecting with young people, driven by key values millennials want brands to have: inclusivity, cultural-awareness and risk-taking. Of the nearly 200 brands most-loved by millennials, the 10 with the highest Unity Score - which based on the research were emblematic of inclusion across races, cultures and body types - include (in alphabetical order): Amazon, Disney, Dove, Fenty Beauty, Kellogg’s, Netflix, Nike, Old Navy, Target and Walmart.
This new research builds upon the findings of the first Fuse Multicultural Insider, commissioned in 2018 to examine how millennials construct their identities out of varying influencing factors. In that study, millennials were asked what factors best define their identity; values, passions and career were at the top of the list, with social media identity and political affiliation on the bottom.