Channel, Partner & Local Marketing

Direct Digital Holdings released a new whitepaper

Report Also Reveals Mainstream Tipping Point, as Multicultural/Diverse Consumers Drive Brand Choices for 57% of the General Population
Digital Holdings

Direct Digital Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: DRCT) (“Direct Digital Holdings” or the “Company”), a leading advertising and marketing technology platform operating through its companies Colossus Media, LLC (“Colossus SSP”), Huddled Masses LLC (“Huddled Masses”) and Orange 142 (“Orange 142”), today released a new whitepaper, Cracking the Code: How Multicultural & Gen Z Reshape Mainstream Marketing. The paper features exclusive research along with insights from industry leaders and academics.

Direct Digital Holdings’ research shows that the outsized influence that multicultural and diverse communities have on the brand choices of mainstream consumers – especially Gen Z – should be viewed as a seismic shift by brand marketers to intentionally and authentically connect with multicultural and diverse consumers to promote broader sales.

For the report, Direct Digital Holdings commissioned Horowitz Research to survey over 2,300 U.S. consumers to understand how Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin, AAPI and LGBTQIA+ consumers’ brand perceptions and purchase behaviors affect the general population overall, with a particular focus on Gen Z.

The findings show that 81 percent of Gen Zers – the most diverse generation in history – and 72 percent of Millennials say that multicultural and diverse consumers have a big impact on their brand choices, and surprisingly, 48 percent of Gen Xers, and 32 percent of Boomers report the same.

While younger consumers are at the forefront of this market shift, results reveal that the level of multicultural and diverse peoples’ influence on the overall market surpasses their current share of the population – with more than half (57%) of today’s mainstream consumers saying that multicultural and diverse communities’ tastes and opinions strongly influence their own brand preferences.

When looking at the impact specifically on major brand categories, a very high percentage of Gen Zers said that multicultural/diverse communities have an influence on a wide range of product and service choices. Top categories where Gen Z cite big/some influence, include:

  • Food/Restaurants – 90%
  • Fashion – 89%
  • Entertainment – 88%
  • Beauty/Wellness – 87%
  • Household/Cleaning – 82%
  • Technology – 76%

Michael Roca, Executive Director of ELEVATE at Omnicom Media Group, shared his thoughts in the whitepaper on what this means for brands. “There was a time when brands had a Hispanic budget, a Black budget, etc. Today, it’s everybody’s responsibility to reach these audiences. Brands and agencies need to make this a business priority, and the siloed approach doesn’t work anymore.”

Examining the presence of diversity in various circles of family, friends, colleagues and neighbors – as well as celebrities, influencers, and other public figures followed on social or other media – Direct Digital Holdings’ survey confirmed that diversity is real and present in U.S. consumers’ lives. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of mainstream consumers say that at least some of their closest connections do not share their race, ethnicity or sexual identity. Gen Z consumers, however, were the most likely to say that their connections, at every level, are primarily diverse.

“These groups have been disproportionately influential. And today, cultural circles are more heterogeneous than ever before,” added Dr. Marcus Collins, Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and author of For the Culture. “Marketers have been a little slow to this. Particularly the impact and influence of network effects.”

The whitepaper tapped into the perspectives of a wide range of leading executives from across the media and marketing industry, as well as top academics. The full list includes:

  • Alison Ciccione, Director, US Media, McDonald’s
  • Dr. Marcus Collins, Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business
  • Sheryl Daija, Founder and CEO, BRIDGE
  • MJ DePalma, Head of Inclusive Business Impact, Microsoft Advertising
  • Andrea Fischer, Senior Manager, Media Strategy, Bayer Consumer Health
  • Lashawnda Goffin, CEO, Colossus SSP
  • Maria Lowrey, Chief Growth Officer, Direct Digital Holdings
  • Caleb Pearson, Vice President, US Customer Engagement, McDonald’s
  • Mark Prince, SVP, Head of Economic Empowerment, dentsu Media
  • Michael Roca, Executive Director of ELEVATE, Omnicom Media Group
  • Kana Schmidt, Marketing Director, Pain/Cardio, Bayer
  • Thomaï Serdari, Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing and Director of Fashion and Luxury MBA, New York University’s Stern School of Business
  • Natalie Shyu, Group Director, Digital and Programmatic Strategy, dentsu Media
  • Esther Uduehi, Assistant Professor of Marketing and International Business, University of Washington’s Foster School of Business
  • Mark D. Walker, CEO and Co-Founder, Direct Digital Holdings
  • Arnetta Whiteside, SVP, Multicultural Consulting, Agency and Brand Readiness, Publicis Media

“Among the younger consumers who will dominate the market in the future, the deep-rooted presence and influence of multicultural and diverse people has become staggering – making intentional and authentic connection with these communities critical for any brand seeking success in the marketplace,” said Mark D. Walker, CEO and Co-Founder of Direct Digital Holdings, who wrote the introduction to the whitepaper. “Moreover, the research makes clear that this isn’t just about tomorrow. Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin, AAPI and LGBTQIA+ people already have an outsized influence on the brand choices of 57 percent of the broader market today. It’s a tipping point that cannot and should not be ignored.”

To download the whitepaper, Cracking the Code: How Multicultural & Gen Z Reshape Mainstream Marketing, go to

This study included quantitative research and analysis conducted by Horowitz Research ( A total of 2311 online surveys were conducted November 16-27, 2023. 1,021 general market interviews among 13+ U.S. consumers, plus an oversample of 1,290 Black, Hispanic/Latin, and AAPI consumers. Data have been weighted as needed to ensure results are representative of each of the individual segments and the U.S. population as a whole.

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