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  • April 8, 2015
  • 2 minute read

For Millennials, Cultural Self-Identification Does Not Fit Into One Box


We’re in the middle of a tremendously important shift in American culture. The Millennial generation (people born between 1980-2000) is the largest living generation, ushering in the most ethnically diverse generation — Millennials are 43% non-white.1

Now is the time when multicultural becomes mainstream and where cultural self-identification can no longer fit into one checked box. In comparison to the Boomer generation who came before them, America’s largest generation is self-identifying with multiple cultures. According to a recent Pandora study, 71% of Millennials—and 80% of Hispanic Millennials—are identifying with cultures outside of their own ethnicity.2

Let’s talk about another “M”: mobile. An astounding 83% of Millennials say that they sleep with their smartphone.3 And on Pandora, which reaches 6 in 10 Mobile Millennials on smartphones every month4, 77% are using their mobile device when they work out.5

So what does this newly dominant, diverse and connected consumer mean for marketers? It means the days of “monoculture” marketing and a “one-size fits all” approach is over. In order to effectively reach and engage everyone, marketers have to start thinking about the person first, inclusive of not just ethnicity, but also of diverse attitudes, interests and behaviors that define them.

With this personalized user-centric approach, you’re determining how a consumer self-identifies by figuring out their choices and their passions. The passion point of music is an incredibly powerful way to connect with your consumers because it sits at the intersection of behavior and culture. This holds especially true among multicultural listeners on Pandora–African Americans rank music as the #1 factor for helping them feel connected to culture, and Hispanic Millennials rank music as #3.6 On Pandora, a listener’s library of personalized stations can be endlessly diverse, satisfying all of their musical needs, whether inspired by discovery or heritage, enabling an ease of use that can keeps them on one simple platform–no matter what device they’re on–all day.

Targeting and segmentation can be incredibly effective if you embrace the wonderful complexity of your consumer. At Pandora, we’ve been thinking outside of the box for a long time, having invested in proprietary segmentation that allows an advertiser to reach the listener using an intricate algorithm based not only on ethnicity but listening behaviors, music interaction, geography, listener surveys and much more. Are you reaching and resonating with the multicultural Millennial generation? Are you ready for the shift?


[1] Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends, Pew Research Center, March 2014

[2] Pandora Soundboard, Cultural Connector Survey, January 2015

[3] Nielsen, Millennials: Technology = Social Connection, February 2014

[4] comScore, Mobile Metrix, Key Measures 18-34, January 2015

[5] Pandora Soundboard, Fitness Study, January 2015

[6] Pandora Soundboard, Cultural Connector Survey, January 2015.

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