Why a multicultural and multigenerational look at consumers matters

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

To be competitive and to live up to our founding principle of people helping people, multicultural business strategy isn’t optional. It’s essential. As our country continues to become increasingly diverse, understanding multicultural consumers – from product preferences and ownership to financial habits to consumer worries, hopes and dreams – is increasingly important.

With multicultural consumers being the growing force, and as Gen Z and Millennials continue to change life stages, we need to understand all parts of their identity and serve them with intentionality. It’s not enough to just know the what, we also must know the why if we want to make real change to help more members.

Many credit unions are familiar with the demographics of their members and community, but they may not have the whole picture. In years past, research has always been split by White, Black, Hispanic and occasionally Asian. Data on the Native American, Alaskan Native and Indigenous population would be missing, and information on the Multiracial population was non-existent.

A lot of surveys (Census included) forced people to choose one race/ethnicity to identify. Survey respondents who didn’t identify with the four called out race/ethnic groups would be gathered into “other.”

Now, with the new Census data, we can call attention to not only the Native American, Alaskan Native and Indigenous community but also the Multiracial community. One way racism shows up, especially against the Native American, Alaskan Native and Indigenous population, is that these groups are ignored and left out of data collection and research.

Another group that is often left out of the conversation when it comes to financial services and wealth building is Gen Z. There’s a tendency to hold old stereotypes that Gen Z consumers and even Millennials are too young or at life stages that have not yet required the need for our products and services. The reality is Gen Z consumers are a growing part of our workforce — they are parents, caregivers, heading and contributing to households financially and are an important consumer segment for us to consider both now and for the future.

This inclusion of additional generations and races/ethnicities allows people to show up as who they are fully and for us to better understand consumers and their identities. Conducting research that encompasses a wide range of racial and ethnic identities as well as looking at consumers from Gen Z through Baby Boomers provides a big picture that is more clear and vivid, one that is representative of the communities we serve.

You’ll see all of this data in our 2022 What Matters Now™ research report. At CUNA Mutual Group, we believe a brighter financial future should be accessible to everyone. We can only achieve that by centering our customers and evolving with consumers to meet their needs. We have been on a journey to learn as much as we can about consumers through a cultural lens that considers not one, but the many aspects of identity that make us human.

Our research today has evolved from our research five years ago, and our future research efforts will be even more inclusive. We believe diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts should be transformational, not transactional. The events of the last few years, specifically the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others, as well as the lives lost and altered by the pandemic and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities has required consumers and organizations to face disparities head-on and find solutions together.

Our offering of this multicultural and multigenerational research, which includes perspectives on how the pandemic has impacted consumer finances, is aimed at providing credit unions with insights that will help us better serve all consumers and live into our founding purpose of people helping people.

To read the full What Matters Now™ report, visit our website.

Opal Tomashevska

Opal Tomashevska

Opal E. Tomashevska is the Director of Multicultural Business Strategy at TruStage. Web: www.trustage.com Details