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The Latest Census: An Emerging America and Lessons for Marketers

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

The 2020 U.S. Census cemented an undeniable truth - America is on its way to becoming majority minority. What does this mean for the way we understand and interact emerging America?

Sharp and unprecedented increases among Latino and Asian American residents represented the largest population increases in the country, with states such as California and Texas now reflecting majority, traditionally minority populations.

From the 1980s through the early 2000s, immigrants and their children have contributed to both the growth and diversity of the nation’s younger population—however, more recently, natural increase rather than immigration is the primary source of Latino or Hispanic population growth.

Asian Americans, Black Americans, and persons of two or more races contributed 4.3 million, 3.2 million, and 1.7 million people, respectively to the growth of minorities in the country.

As a result of these demographic shifts, the nation is becoming less white and more ethnically and racially-diverse. More than half of the nation’s population are members of the Millennial or Generation Z age groups, adding a layer of generational considerations that add to the diverse composition of the audiences brands are targeting.

Existing observations of other groups such as LGBTQ+ point to an increase in how young people identify based on sexual orientation or identity are also shifting, with younger Americans choosing a more fluid way to identify along the lines of gender, and sexual orientation. In a recent Gallup Poll, LGBTQ+ self-identification grew to a record 7.1% of all polled, compared to 5.6% in 2020. The same poll cites that one in five members of Generation Z now identifies as LGBTQ+.

"...the nation is becoming less white and more ethnically and racially diverse.”

Shifting demographics create opportunities to understand how travelers choose to prioritize their decisions based on their values, identities, and preference - all things influenced by the cultural movements and shared experiences of their cohorts and communities.

The Importance of Culture in Messaging

The commodification of travel in the U.S. began in the 1950s during an era when homogenous groups with homogenous interests dictated how travel and hospitality products would be developed. Since that time, travel messaging many times reflects destination, service, and product assets (think beaches, images of plated food, wellness imagery, and golf, tennis, and water sports) - all of the activities that reflect the baseline understanding among travel marketers that all travelers engage in leisure travel for relaxation, rest, and reconnection to one's self and loved ones.

These images are necessary and important to ensure competitive positioning and provide the traveler with essential product information, but brands that rely only on asset-based messaging fail to create and sustain deeper cultural connections with audiences looking for authenticity and frequent brands that reflect their identity. Instead, these consumers look to non-endemic cultural, social, media, and influencer queues to inform their travel decisions and guide their brand and destination affinity.

How much more effective would your travel brand or destination become if you were able to master how to connect with culture in your message?

The Culturist Group helps travel brands and destinations decipher cross-generational, and emerging demographic values, motivators, intentions, and competitive data to help you become more competitive.


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