Why consumer culture and identity are meaningful for brands

February 25, 2020
3 min read

In 2020, Mintel is taking a deep dive into the world of consumer culture, consumer identity and their influence across industries. In a series of new reports, we’ll examine the different ways consumers describe themselves, express themselves, and create like-minded communities and subcultures. We’ll also assess how these facets of consumers’ identity inform their purchase decisions and behaviors across categories. Some of the new reports explore hot topics such as trendsetters and early adopters, sexuality and gender identity, as well as politics, including the beliefs of conservative and liberal Americans.

By examining these nuanced and multifaceted areas of consumers’ lifestyles, we’re providing insight and analysis for our clients that will enable them to elevate their consumer knowledge beyond demographics. While demographics can help brands identify valuable consumer targets, there are underlying psychographic factors that are more powerful purchase motivators. For example, data from a recent report on American values shows that while women are more comfortable with brands supporting controversial issues than men, political affiliation is actually a better predictor of consumers’ outlook.

It’s critical to remember that culture is not category-specific. Consumers are not “shampoo buyers” in one moment, and then “shoe buyers” in the next; they are fully formed people with unique and multifaceted identities. Their self-identification and culture shape their attitudes towards and expectations for brands. Our research on coastal and heartland consumers reveals that heartland consumers are more likely than coastals to demonstrate a distinct lack of trust in companies across a range of different categories, including technology, media, and e-commerce. Brands of all types may have to address and work to combat this prevalent distrust when targeting the heartland consumer group.

Why brands should care about culture and identity

Brands may feel they already have a sufficient understanding of the consumer groups they are targeting. However, sometimes the dominant narrative of consumer segments can be wrong. For example, Pride marketing is often synonymous with the Pride rainbow; however, our research from an upcoming report on marketing to LGBTQ+ consumers shows that incorporating LGBTQ+ symbols, such as the rainbow, is the least preferred tactic among LGBTQ+ consumers. In fact, the most crucial action according to consumers is that brands advocate and advance inclusive workplace policies for their employees.

Looking to the future, consumers will only continue to become more sophisticated in how they identify and express themselves, which in turn will influence how they make purchase decisions. As consumers become more sophisticated and introspective, so should the marketing and messaging brands are using.

If you’re interested in learning more about the new Mintel Reports US Culture and Identity library, please contact your Mintel account manager; otherwise, you can get in touch here.

Lisa Dubina
Lisa Dubina

Lisa is Associate Director, Culture & Identity, on the Mintel Reports US team, responsible for creating reports focused on the underlying psychographic factors that impact how consumers identify and express themselves, as well as purchase behaviors across categories.

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