Engineering for Engagement: Multicultural Audiences Are Connected and In Control

Did you know that in just 30 years the multicultural minority in the United States will grow to become the majority of our population?[1] Did you also know that this group is generally younger and more tech-savvy than the rest of the population? If the answer is yes, then you are likely already ahead of the game. But for the rest of us, paying attention to how today’s multicultural consumer engages with technology and media will be important to creating a successful marketing strategy, now and into the years ahead.

Multicultural audiences have been growing in size and economic influence over the last several years. And the reason they have so much clout has to do with how they embrace technology. Skewing younger than the rest of population (53% of Generation Z and 40% of Millennials identify as multicultural or of mixed race[2]), these consumers use technology at higher rates and more intensely than their non-multicultural counterparts.

With growing connectivity and device usage across all demographics, it’s noteworthy that Hispanic, Black and Asian-Americans--in particular--tend to be early adopters and frequently use technology to shape and express their unique cultural identity.

The Connectivity Gap Has Closed

The gap in internet use that was once prevalent among Hispanic and Black-Americans is no more. Hispanic households now have the highest penetration of connected devices across nearly every new technology and the rate of internet usage among Black-Americans is just 1% shy of that of the general population.[3] Black consumers, in particular, are early adopters, with 70% saying they are fascinated by new technology and more likely to be the first among their friend group to try a new technology.[4]

Similarly, Asian-Americans outpace every other consumer segment in the penetration and usage of emerging media. Most importantly, this audience is helping shape the future of content consumption by using a range of devices to access content. Today, 93% of Asian-American households use a smartphone compared to 85% of general U.S. households.[5]

Cultural Expression Is Fueled by Technology

What is perhaps most unique about how multicultural consumers use technology is how frequently they turn to connected devices and digital media to express themselves. Young Hispanics, especially, turn to their mobile device to help define their personal identity. Nearly 3 in 10 agree that their smartphone is an expression of who they are, compared to just 1 in 10 of non-Hispanic White and Hispanics aged 50 years and older.[6]

For Hispanics, in particular, cultural traditions are an important part of their identity, which is why young Hispanics tend to spend a significant amount of time on music apps, like Pandora. In fact, 53% say music is their favorite type of Spanish-language mobile app, followed by media and entertainment (40%), games (35%) and news (33%).[7]

For Black-Americans, technology is a conduit to not only express their cultural identity, but to broadcast issues that matter to their community. Black consumers are adept at using digital platforms to communicate with the world around them. Social media not only helps them maintain relationships, but also is an effective platform to start movements that affect change. In fact, 55% of Black Millennials say they spend an hour or more on social media daily, 11% higher than the total Millennial population.[4]

Social has also given them the power to carve out their own path to success. Music artists, actors and producers are forging new models for content distribution, breaking down long-standing barriers in the entertainment and music industries. Chance the Rapper received critical acclaim with his streaming-only album, Coloring Book, and HBO’s original series, “Insecure” was inspired by Issa Rae’s popular web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.”

Young Multicultural Consumers Lead in Technology Adoption

More connectivity, combined with the democratization of technology and digital media, has created a greater sense of inclusion among multicultural audiences, along with more opportunities to see people “who look like me” in the media they consume. Particularly, if you’re brand needs to reach a younger, multicultural audience, knowing how they interact with technology and media is critical. Marketers who understand this and embrace this will be rewarded with attention and engagement.

Additionally, providing this audience with choices when interacting with your advertising can also prove rewarding for your brand. It should come as no surprise that consumers like having the choice of paying with their wallet or with their time and attention, and demand for this type of value exchange advertising is steadily increasing. If you can give consumers an experience that they find valuable, not surprisingly they are more willing to give you their time and attention, AND are more likely to come back for more.

For more insights, check out our, "Advertiser’s Guide to Multicultural Audiences," which contains everything you need to know to market effectively to multicultural consumers. By combining Pandora’s proprietary listening insights with trusted third-party data, this report provides a fresh perspective on the habits and preferences of Hispanic, Black and Asian-Americans. Get your copy here:

Sources: [1] Advertising Age, In Plain Sight: The Black Consumer Report, April 2012 [2] Pew Research Center, Tabulations of U.S. Census Bureau Population Projections, April 2016 [3] eMarketer, US Hispanic and Digital Usage: How They Differ from Non-Hispanics and from One Another, June 2017 [4] Nielsen, “Young, Connected and Black,” October 2017 [5] Nielsen, Total Audience Report, Q4 2016 [6] Simmons Research, “Fall 2016 National Hispanic Consumer Study,” April 2017 [6] Yahoo Audience Theory and Ipsos, “3rd Gen Hispanics: What Drives Them, Inspires Them, and How to Make the Brand Connection,” October 2016