In Today’s America, Millennial Consumers Are Increasingly Multicultural

This blog post originally appeared in Huffington Post.

You don't have to study demographics for a living to be aware of two major changes impacting America's population:

  1. It is increasingly multicultural
  2. It is increasingly comprised of the millennial generation, who are our nation's trendsetters and beginning their transition into societal leadership

When you combine these two mega-trends, you arrive at the idea of the multicultural millennial, also known as "Generation Y," defined as someone born between 1980 and 1995 and not of traditional European white origin. Rapidly increasing in volume, millennials overall comprise more than one-fifth of the U.S. population - and those identifying themselves as other than White non-Hispanic form 45 percent of U.S. millennials. By 2022, it is projected that multicultural millennials will form the majority of all U.S. millennials.

Because of their increasing influence, a number of organizations have analyzed specific millennial multicultural groups. One of the best examples is the work of the Hispanic Millennial Project, who presented at our New Mainstream Business Summitthis year.

As you compile and organize insights from these reports, we've noticed a commonality with millennials of diverse ethnic backgrounds: they're increasingly motivated and driven by American culture. Specifically, the Hispanic Millennial Project's research found that Hispanic millennials believe more in the "American Dream," compared to all U.S. millennials. They're motivated and fulfilled by the aspirations of America, especially in terms of being healthy, wealthy and productive citizens. They also associate American brands with success (Apple) and are more optimistic about the country's future direction than their non-Hispanic peers.

But when it comes to mainstream millennials and multicultural America, the influence goes both ways. Increasingly, White non-Hispanic millennials participate in cultural pastimes (such as entertainment and food preferences) that are "ethnic" in nature. Think about the percentage of millennials who listen to hip-hop music, the popularity of brands like Chipotle, or the rise of anime TV shows and movies. These are multicultural trends that are not tied to geography - they transcend race and ethnicity, impacting an entire country of younger Americans. Therefore, it is quite likely that many White non-Hispanic millennials are "psychographically multicultural."

We are in a period of growth in this country where the exchange of cultures is occurring at a rapid pace. In the case of the millennial generation, one cultural phenomenon is clear: millennial and multicultural are not two separate demographic influences. In many ways, they are the same thing.

Because of how our cultures influence one another, our leaders must understand the overall cultural preferences of young America, and cater to their individual needs in a more sophisticated manner. Our cultures are coming together - and brands that do not understand the cultural impacts of this confluence are missing the next great wave of lifetime consumers.

Do you have a clear understanding of millennials and how your company is acquiring and retaining them? Are you confident that you're penetrating this segment at or above the rate in the marketplace, compared to your competitors? I would enjoy your input - because this dialog will shape the future of our marketing efforts.

César M. Melgoza, is a leading innovator and thought-leader on analytic services, business strategy, consumer insights and the development of market intelligence systems. After having fulfilled key roles at Silicon Valley firms Apple and Strategic Mapping, César founded Geoscape to develop market information systems and provide services for an increasingly diverse American and international marketplace.