Seven in 10 US parents are comfortable with diversity in the media

February 18, 2016

As America grows increasingly diverse, Americans are becoming more accepting of a culture that reflects this, including parents. New research from Mintel reveals that seven in 10 parents are comfortable with their children being exposed to interracial couples (72 percent), racially diverse characters (70 percent) and languages other than English (67 percent) in the media.

Further illustrating these cultural changes, Mintel’s 2016 North American Consumer Trend Pride and Persona examines how companies are strengthening relationships with consumers as shifts in the traditional definitions of gender, race and formerly standard demographics are reforming American culture. It appears children are taking cues from their parents when it comes to cultural acceptance: Mintel research reveals that more than four in five US kids age 6-11 (83 percent) and teens age 12-17 (88 percent) agree that is it important to accept people of different racial/ethnic backgrounds. Another four in five kids (81 percent) and teens (84 percent) say it’s important to accept people of different religions.

53% of parents agree that they like the trend toward gender neutrality in kids’ products and activities

Parents also appear open-minded when it comes to gender as over half (53 percent) of parents agree that they like the trend toward gender neutrality in kids’ products and activities. This increases to 68 percent among older Millennial parents (age 30-39).

Despite changing attitudes, some parents remain hesitant to expose their children to certain types of media. For example, parents are less comfortable with their children being exposed to unmarried couples cohabiting (57 percent), same-sex couples (44 percent) and transgender characters (39 percent).

“While parents’ opinions on what is and is not appropriate for children vary, the majority of parents would prefer to shield their kids from at least some sort of content. Young children have access to the internet via smartphones and other personal devices, which means it is difficult to control what they are exposed to,” said Lauren Bonetto, Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst at Mintel. “Our research indicates that older Millennial parents are the most open minded and are a prime audience for brands that are willing to take steps toward becoming more reflective of our diverse society.”

As American parents’ cultural acceptance grows, so too does their family spending habits: one third (33 percent) of parents say they are spending more this year than last year on entertaining their families. Mintel research reveals that older Millennial parents (47 percent) are the most likely demographic to agree with this statement and are the highest mean monthly spenders on family entertainment ($234 vs $182 for parents overall). This increased allocated spending aligns with Mintel research which shows that consumers are interested in splurging on family experiences, with some of the top categories for discretionary purchasing being entertainment, dining out and vacations.

Overall, nine in 10 (88 percent) parents say the best kinds of entertainment offer memorable experiences, with 69 percent agreeing that going out with family is more fun than staying at home. What’s more, four in five (82 percent) parents agree family time is more important than personal time and half (49 percent) seek out activities that help their families bond.

However, technology’s role in family time is a polarizing topic. While one third (31 percent) of parents say technology distracts from family time, half (49 percent) of parents say that technology makes them feel closer to their families. Furthermore, 56 percent like to share what they do with their families on social media.

“As the economy continues to strengthen, parents are more comfortable spending, even splurging, on leisure and entertainment and have increased their spending year-over-year. However, parents have mixed feelings about technology’s role in family entertainment. With parents split between viewing technology as a distraction and a way to feel closer with family members, there is an opportunity for high-tech and no-tech products and services that facilitate bonding and strengthen relationships,” continued Bonetto.

When searching for ways to connect with their families, parents do come across a few hurdles. Mintel research reveals that nearly half (45 percent) of parents agree they feel pressure to plan exciting things for their families. Further, 43 percent say that getting their families to spend time together is a struggle, and two in five (41 percent) feel other families spend more time together.

These sentiments are especially true among dads, including over half (51 percent) who feel pressure to plan exciting things. What’s more, two in five (41 percent) dads report increased year-over-year spending on family entertainment (vs 26 percent of moms), while they also report much higher mean monthly spend on family entertainment ($219) compared to moms ($150).

“Dads are a key target group for family entertainment. Not only do they spend more than moms, and feel pressure to plan fun activities for the family, but they are more likely to say that they enjoy acting like a kid with their children and they relish the opportunity to relive their childhoods. Dads may be drawn to experiential and/or nostalgic activities and are likely to be less price-sensitive than moms,” concluded Bonetto.

Press copies of the Family Entertainment US 2016 report and interviews with Lauren Bonetto, Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst, are available on request from the press office.


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