Cultural Comfort, Siloes And Stress Impacts Gen Z Trust Circles

Fairfax, Va. (February 11, 2021) —  According to a study by the Culture Marketing Council: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing (CMC), despite a multicultural majority among the under-18 age segment, most non-Hispanic white (NHW) teens do not experience the MC majority reality in their daily lives—from their schools and neighborhoods to their friendships online and in real life. Regardless of race or background, teen stress levels are high, trust circles are tight and vary among kids and parents, depending on culture, age, and experience with organizations and institutions.

“Trust circles, cultural comfort or discomfort, and stress are all nuances that marketers must understand, as they impact brand relationships and purchase decisions,” said CMC Research Chair Nancy Tellet, founder, brand & consumer navigator at PureClarity LLC. “Trust, plays a huge role not only in the political arena and friendships, but also where we live, how we raise our kids, and in the brands we choose to buy.”

Today, two-thirds of multicultural Gen Zers grow up in families that attempt to retain most of their historical cultural values. They also take cues from modern American society, choosing which values to keep, reject and add.

A Multicultural Majority in Numbers but Not in Daily Life

Racial and ethnic segments tend to self-silo across schools, neighborhoods and friendships, both on social media and in real life. This is mostly prevalent among NHW teens and tweens ages 8-17. While non-Hispanic Blacks (NHB) and Hispanics silo less, the majority of their in real life friends are either their own segment or other persons of color (POC). When it comes to social media, however, friends are slightly more diverse for NHW & NHB but virtually same for Hispanics.

The Majority of Gen Zers and Parents Are Comfortable with All Types of People

Sixty percent of Gen Zers and parents say, “I am truly comfortable with all people.” Among the 40 percent—a sizable minority—who are uncomfortable, all segments regardless of race or ethnicity report most discomfort with “rich people” and “evangelical Christians.” Blacks and Hispanics also say they are most uncomfortable among NHWs, NHWs and Blacks share a discomfort of LGBTQ+ people, and, surprisingly, Hispanics say they are most uncomfortable around “other Hispanics.” In addition, one in five (22 percent) NHWs are uncomfortable hearing Spanish spoken in public.

The Stress is Real for Gen Zers

Across all segments, teens report “being smart and well educated” as a core value for success; however, this ambition and often, fear of failure leaves them feeling stressed and isolated. Stress among Hispanic teens is higher than other groups. The shrinking middle class has added to teen stress for all groups especially NHW teens who feel they need to “protect” their turf. Black and Hispanic teens expressed more resilience with an attitude of “Life is tough, but I am tougher,” since life was never that easy to begin with. Hispanic teen stress actually decreased during COVID, as the negative spotlight shifted from them to the pandemic and other social and political issues.

The Cultural Closet: What’s Kept, What’s Tossed and What’s Being Added

More than two-thirds of POC want to keep most of their historical cultural values. Among Hispanics and NHB, family culture “keeps you safe, sane and happy.” For Hispanics, it’s about sharing knowledge and traditions while instilling a sense of interdependence (we vs me). For NHBs, family connections not only protect and support but also serve to share knowledge and pass down tradition. Hispanics and NHBs ages 13 to 49 keep values of resilience and the importance of their communities in their cultural closet, as it is important to succeed in spite of adversity.

Hispanic and Black teens place a high level of importance on the practice of “respect” including respect for their elders and stronger parental authority, including discipline within the parent/child relationship. Among NHBs, respect is straightforward, stressing the importance of respect for oneself and receiving it from others.  Among Hispanics, “respeto” is complex and more formal than what is typically expected in the U.S—with an emphasis on courtesy,  including helping above and beyond when you are a guest in someone’s house or how you behave with authority figures, such as your doctor or an elder.

More than half of Hispanic and NHB teens agree that traditional gender roles have to go. In addition, six out of 10 Hispanics ages 13 to 49 would like to get rid of socio-economic and racial colorism hierarchies.

Methodology  & Funders:

  • This study builds on more than 20,500 consumer touchpoints to date, the CMC released the third part of a comprehensive study on Gen Z (ages 13 to 17), IT’S TIME: Ready (or Not) for the Multicultural Majority, analyzing social media consumption, streaming video habits and the escalating power of culture in content.
  • The study received financial or operational support from Kantar, ThinkNow, ViacomCBS and Univision.
  • Quantitative research came from 2,418 13-17s (Gen Z) and 25-49 parents of kids 8-12 (65% Millennials/ 35% Xers) with equal sample representation of Hispanics (HISP), non-Hispanic Blacks (NHB) & non-Hispanic Whites (NHW) from January 2020 to February 2020.
  • Qualitative interviews with 54 respondents (36T/18P), in-home pairs (HISP/NHB/NHW) and two Gen Z multicultural workshops (HISP/NHB/NHW/Asian-American/Other)

About CMC: Founded in 1996 as the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, the Culture Marketing Council: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing is the national trade organization of all marketing, communications, and media firms with trusted Hispanic expertise.