In unprecedented times, behaviors fluctuate dramatically – partly because mindsets are changing fast. 

People become worried about new things, more risk-averse, more alert… Their aspirations and hopes for the future change, as do the things they value and hold closest to their hearts.

And while most leading businesses have long understood the value of unique insight into their target audiences’ attitudes, interests and thought processes, it’s never been more important to look deeper into your consumer’s changing mindset.

Why psychographic needs more focus in advertising

Focusing on consumer opinions, feelings and motivations, psychographic data brings demographic research to life. Without it, you know who your consumers are, but not why they do the things they do.

From a global pandemic to civil upset, the U.S. is seeing massive change at the moment, and with this comes new and evolving ways of thinking and perceiving.

Our brand new GWI USA data set offers fresh insight into the modern American consumer, through which we can analyze consumers using over 600 psychographic data points. Looking under the lens of advertising, some interesting truths come to light.

For instance, only 9% of Americans say they feel represented in the advertising they see.

For an industry in which the sole focus is to reach – and resonate with – your audience, this points to a huge disconnect between brands and the people they’re trying to reach. Looking closer at U.S. consumers under a multicultural lens, here’s what we see:

  • Only 11% of African Americans and 7% of Asian Americans feel represented in advertising.
  • A fifth of Asian Americans and a quarter of Hispanic Americans say they prefer ads that reflect their culture.
  • 31% of African Americans prefer ads that reflect their culture.

Insight like this offers clear direction on the kind of advertising and messaging U.S. consumers want – which is exactly what advertisers need in uncertain and unprecedented times. 

Now let’s look at what’s on the minds of American consumers more broadly in the midst of major change.

What’s on the minds of today’s U.S. consumers?

1. Corporate social responsibility is key for engaging them.

Consumers in 2020 demand more of their favorite brands than great products or services – their one most important request is that they take social responsibility. 

2. The majority would vote Democrat were there an election tomorrow.

Ahead of Republican at 26%, 36% of U.S. consumers would vote Democrat at the moment. But 11% are still unsure where their vote would go.

3. Viruses top the list of worries.

Ahead of fears such as terrorism, gun violence, and climate change, health is at the forefront of U.S. consumers’ minds.

This is also reflected in the question on their current hopes and aspirations, where health comes out top on 59% – ahead of being happy (52%) and being financially secure (47%).

4. More than a quarter see their personal finances negatively.

9% of Americans say they’re ‘struggling’ with their personal finances. But it’s not all bad news – more than a third describe themselves as ‘comfortable’.

5. Health is top of mind for the future.

Not surprisingly, Americans are focusing on their health in 2020. This comes in ahead of aspects like happiness and money.

Regional spotlight: Californian consumers

By delving deeper into the data, you can get a more targeted view of your consumer. As an example, here’s an exploration of Californian consumers compared to the rest of the U.S. 

The average Californian is:

  • 37% more likely to identify as atheist
  • 33% more likely to describe themselves as vegan
  • 23% more likely to eat food from delivery services regularly 
  • 22% more likely to take a vacation in a different country every 6 months 
  • 21% more likely to describe their political views as liberal
  • 12% more likely to say they’re worried about climate change

Let’s dive even deeper and compare Californian baby boomers and Gen Z.

Moving forward with psychographic data

We know as we venture further into the ‘next normal’, old strategies will no longer resonate with consumers that are facing new challenges.

With less than 10% of Americans feeling represented in the advertising they see, there’s a clear and problematic divide between how brands and consumers think.

To move with the mindsets of U.S. consumers, the way brands use psychographic must change to match. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Revisit your audience segments and personas.
  2. Look as far ahead as possible.
  3. Tell emotionally compelling, but culturally sensitive, stories.
  4. Keep coming back to refreshed, attitudinal research and adapt alongside.
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