Millennials Seek Cultural Variety in What They Eat, Watch, and Buy

NEW YORK, N.Y. – There is a clear demand for multicultural influence in the lives of American adults. More than three quarters of Americans (78%) agree they love trying new things outside of their own culture. This desire for novelty and variety is even higher among Millennials, of which 84% love the exposure to different cultures. People seeking this multicultural experience can find it in many places, including what they eat, watch, and buy. 

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,034 U.S. adults aged 18+ surveyed online between June 7 and 9, 2016.

What people eat

One place where people look to fulfill their desire for multicultural influence is in what they eat. About one quarter of all U.S. adults (26%) say it is at least very important that the foods they buy and consume contain multicultural flavors. Millennials place more importance on buying and consuming multicultural flavors than any other generation, with 32% saying it is at least very important. Among those ages 35-44 and 45-54, 27% each find it important, while only 20% of those age 55-64 and 21% of adults ages 65 and over feel the same.

However, multicultural flavor is still not as important as other factors when purchasing and consuming food. Locally sourced ingredients are at least very important for 36% of American adults, followed by organic or natural ingredients (32%). Buying foods with multicultural flavor is seen as equally important as purchasing from a company with a strong social purpose (26%).

What people watch

Entertainment is a big part of American culture, with television and movies playing a large role in how people entertain themselves, but how do people decide what to watch and where does multicultural influence fit in? Nearly two-thirds of adults (64%) say format (e.g. comedy, drama, etc.) is important to them, followed by the cast (53%). When it comes to cast, adults are seeking a multicultural experience. More than half (56%) prefer to watch movies and television with multicultural characters. This is even more prevalent among Millennials, with nearly 7 in 10 (68%) preferring to watch a multicultural cast of characters. More Millennials also value stories from a new or different cultural context (21%), compared to the average U.S. adult (16%).

What people buy

Adults are also seeking multicultural influence in the brands they buy. When it comes to shelling out extra money, about one third of adults (32%) say they would pay more for a brand that understands multicultural needs. Among Millennials, however, the proportion jumps to nearly half (47%) who are willing to open their wallets a bit further. As for where adults are going to shop, about half (49%) agree they would shop more at a retailer that offers a wider selection of multicultural products. These multicultural products are even more tempting for Millennials, with 65% agreeing they would shop more where there is a wide selection of multicultural products.





This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between June 7 and 9, 2016 among 2,034 adults aged 18+. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.  Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll. 

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #52, July 20, 2016

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst & Elise Simon, Research Analyst Intern, The Harris Poll