Multicultural Consumers Transforming the U.S. Mainstream

NEW YORK, March 18, 2015 — With multicultural consumer spending in the United States today at $3.4 trillion, this “super consumer” group has tremendous impact on U.S. mainstream culture, according to a Nielsen report released today.

The report, The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers, identifies multicultural consumers as the most dynamic and fasting growing segment of the U.S. consumer economy.

“The Multicultural Edge: Rising Super Consumers report builds on Nielsen’s previous series of reports on the attitudes and spending behaviors of African-American, Asian American and Hispanic consumers,” says Monica Gil, senior vice president and general manager of Multicultural Growth and Strategy, Nielsen.

“The unprecedented influence of multicultural consumers on the behavior of non-multicultural shoppers is upending outdated assumptions and enlarging and expanding the multicultural market opportunity, which may be the key to the future.”

The report identifies multicultural Super Consumers, which refer to the top 10% of households who drive at least 30% of sales, 40% of growth and 50% of profits of any consumer product category.

The report suggests that by understanding the cultural essence that drives multicultural super consumer behavior today, marketers and advertisers can better understand future market trends.


The New Mainstream

Multicultural consumers are younger, in their prime and already make up 38% of the U.S. population. Expected to become the numerical majority by 2044, 21 of the top 25 most-populated counties in the United States are already more than 50% multicultural.

Knowing the cultural appeal of a brand is critical to marketers, as multicultural populations can vary widely even within metro areas. The combination of majority multicultural geographies and high levels of interethnic proximity magnify the need for ethnic and cross-cultural marketing.

Multicultural Super Consumers Buying Habits

Multicultural consumers comprise a disproportionate share of many categories, such as dairy, baby food and diapers, laundry supplies and detergents, school supplies, and other family goods. Of 126 grocery store categories reviewed, 45 categories (36%) over-index in total rate of spending for all multicultural consumers compared to non-multiculturals. These attitudes and behaviors demonstrate cultural and behavioral traits unique to the various ethnicities.

The findings show Asian Americans are more likely to eat organic foods (29%). Cultural identity is very important to African- Americans (78%) and Hispanics (71%), and social causes are particularly meaningful to Hispanics (43%).

Multicultural Super Consumers can heavily influence non-multicultural consumers in Super Geo areas—geographies with a higher concentration of Super Consumers. Proximity to other cultures and the sharing of cultural influences, attitudes, and behaviors in Super Geo clusters magnifies the multicultural opportunity. Despite the cultural sharing taking place in the U.S. today, it is critical to understand the nuances and preferences of each individual consumer.


Culturally Driven Behaviors

Multicultural consumers take on an ambicultural identity—the ability and willingness to function competently in two cultures, which allows many multicultural consumers to simultaneously maintain their cultural heritage and see themselves as equally American. Multicultural consumers gravitate to brands, products, and activities that reinforce their cultural roots.

And these behaviors are affecting the purchase behavior of non-multicultural consumers, too. For example, while multicultural consumers represent 53% of hot sauce Super Consumers, the category has grown beyond it, becoming a mainstream condiment. Just as soul food, sushi, tacos, pizza and other once-ethnic foods have become as ubiquitous as apple pie and hot dogs, the traditions, attitudes and shopping behaviors of multiculturals are expanding the multicultural market opportunity.

These multicultural Super Consumer categories have already experienced the future where many categories are likely to follow. Understanding how purchase behaviors are driven by multicultural consumer values, lifestyles, tastes and preferences is the key to total market growth.

To download a copy of the full report, please visit Nielsen’s website at