CMC Releases Comprehensive Gen Z Study

“It’s Time: Ready (or Not) for the Multicultural Majority”

Culture is at the Heart of Identity, Politics, Issues and Movements

2020 is not only a critical turning-point year because of a pandemic, racial and social movements, or an election, 2020 also marks the first time the 0 to 17-year-old segment—or any generation, for that matter—is a multicultural majority. Building on more than 20,500 consumer touchpoints to date, the Culture Marketing Council: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing (CMC) released the first part of a comprehensive study on Gen Z (ages 13 to 17), IT’S TIME: Ready (or Not) for the Multicultural Majority.

This first section of the study, Cultural Intersection of Politics and Movements, shows that feelings about culture as it relates to race, identity and equality existed well before George FloydBreonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery came to national attention. Culture plays a critical role in the decisions Gen Zers make—from the brands and content they follow to the understanding of why such protests have erupted. In fact, culture and identity are the very underpinnings for the movements we see today, like #BlackLivesMatter.

“Gen Zers are fueling the American culture as they interpret and reinvent the American theme, not always perfectly executed but aspirational as they value ‘freedom, equality and opportunity’ for all. With a lower ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’ mentality and  what appears to be a healthy dose of patience and empathy, Gen Zers believe that, unlike their elders, they can be a driving force for unity in the long game they are playing,” said CMC Research Chair Nancy Tellet, founder, brand & consumer navigator at PureClarity LLC. “We see this unity expressed when even a quarter of non-Hispanic white teens say that issues of hate and racism are most important for them as well. On the flip side, one in four non-Hispanic White teens say the multicultural majority will change America’s values for the worse and are bothered by hearing the Spanish language spoken in public.”

Diversity is simply a way of life, however, for the majority of Gen Z, and this data provides a glimpse into the kinds of cultural shifts and alliances we can expect in the future.

1) Freedom, Equality & Healthcare for All Matter the Most to Gen Zers

All segments value freedom of speech, freedom to make own decisions, and equal opportunity. Pre-COVID, affordability, particularly housing, education, and healthcare, was a “Top Three” issue among all segments, with 82 percent across ages and cultures agreeing that “everyone” should have healthcare coverage—a hot button topic that could play out during this election with the Affordable Care Act hanging in the balance.

2) When It Comes to Race & Ethnicity, Our Identity & Values Diverge

Unique race and ethnic identity are core to both Hispanic & non-Hispanic Black (NHB) teens, many of whom also self-identify as people of color, to the tune of 56 percent and 94 percent, respectively. Racial identity is not consciously central to 86 percent of non-Hispanic Whites (NHW) ages 13 to 49, but they are more likely than their multicultural counterparts to see their identity as “being an American” with patriotism as a top three American value.

Other divergences include “Equal treatment under the law” as a “top three value” cited among non-Hispanic Black (NHB) parents and all multicultural teens, as well as “strong work ethic” among Hispanic parents.

3) Hate and Racism Top Issues Faced by Multicultural Teens While Unity Creates Clout & Comfort

Eighty-two percent of Hispanics & non-Hispanic Blacks that also identify as a “person of color” feel a sense of unity with other minority segments. In fact, 64 percent of multicultural people ages 13 to 49 say, “People of color will come together to leverage their combined political clout,” with 40 percent saying, “all or most of the time.” Teens who identify as a Hispanic or Black understand that hate and racism are the biggest issues they face together (51 percent of Black and 35 percent of Hispanic teens), while teen suicide ranked high among NHW teens as a key issue.

4) Ninety-Four Percent of Gen Zers Say They Will Register to Vote with Multicultural Teens Skewing More Liberal

While most of Gen Z is unsure of its future political party or any party at all, data suggests many will favor the Democratic party, although there is a growing trend among those aged 18 to 29 to identify as independent. Overall, NHW teens and parents are more likely to  identify themselves with the Republican party than Hispanics & Blacks, however we see Republican ID erosion with NHWs under the age of 30.

Gen Zers claim to be a politically engaged and socially active generation with 94 percent saying they will register to vote. In addition, the social/political movements they follow are driven by culture.

  • Non-Hispanic White parents consider movements relating to affordability, such as affordable housing and a livable minimum wage as most important
  • White teens say #metoo is most important to them
  • Non-Hispanic Blacks from 13 to 49 agree that #blacklivesmatter is their most important movement
  • Immigration rights are most important for Hispanics ages 13 to 49

5) The Multicultural Majority Sees Themselves as the EVOLUTION, not a Revolution

With all these shifting demographics, 55 percent of people 13-49-years-old believe Gen Z’s values will change America, mostly for the better or “just different.” Among the multicultural segment, more than half believe opportunities “will be better” for their children, with 13-17s agreeing. According to a 16-year-old Hispanic female interviewed, “I do think that this generation could be the next step…to unify instead of separate.”

6) Brands Need Cultural Fluency to Survive & Thrive

More than half of people ages 13 to 49 have quit a culturally illiterate brand, saying it offended them or disrespected their values—that number skyrockets to 72 percent among Black female parents  ages 25 to 49. Thirty percent of the 13-49 segment said advertising adjacent to offending content was also a brand break-up reason.

With culture often at the heart of purchase decisions, brands are taking a stand against racial and gender discrimination with more than 500 brands, including adidas, Diageo, Honda, Unilever and Verizon, supporting change and participating in the “Stop Hate For Profit” Facebook ad boycott. In addition, brands like Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth, the NFL Washington D.C. team, and Uncle Ben changed longstanding imagery & history of their brand identities.

Multicultural marketing is no longer a “niche,” or a “nice to have” marketing afterthought. The definition of “white as the norm” or “general market” is no longer applicable for brands targeting people under the age of 35—and as soon as 2033, brands continuing to make this mistake with people under the age of 50 could lose significant market share. Currently, approximately nine out of 10 chief executives, advertising, promotions, and sales & marketing managers are non-Hispanic white. Without deep cultural fluency and insights at the core of every brand strategy, brands risk a break up with Gen Zers and their parents. That is why it is critical for companies to invest in culture marketing specialists from the C-suite and senior executives to junior practitioners.

Methodology  & Funders:

  • The study received financial or operational support from Kantar, ThinkNow, ViacomCBS and Univision.
  • Quantitative research came from 2,418 13-17s (Gen Z) and 25-49 parents of kids 8-12 (65% Millennials/ 35% Xers) with equal sample representation of Hispanics (HISP), non-Hispanic Blacks (NHB) & non-Hispanic Whites (NHW) from January 2020 to February 2020.
  • Qualitative interviews with 54 respondents (36T/18P), in-home pairs (HISP/NHB/NHW) and two Gen Z multicultural workshops (HISP/NHB/NHW/Asian-American/Other)

For more information, visit and follow the CMC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @cmchispanic.

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