Millennials and Gen X place a lot of value on the concept of “unity,” Fuse Media reports, dubbing the group the “We Generation” in its 2019 Fuse Multicultural Insider report. Drawing on a survey of 1,500 adults ages 18-35 and 500 ages 36-49, Fuse notes that Millennials have a stronger connection to unity than diversity and it has created a “unity score” to identify brands that are best connecting to young people who value inclusivity, cultural awareness and risk-taking.

The study found that Millennials see the notion of unity as twice as valuable as diversity—and 55 percent of Millennials agree that “diversity isn’t inclusive enough.” The We Generation has authentic passion and activism around key societal issues that place an emphasis on human rights over individual ones, even if they don’t affect them personally. For example, cisgender and straight people joining the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, men participating in “women’s” marches and young people of all races speaking out against racial inequality.

“While respecting each other’s culture is important to this generation, their shared sensibilities and passions have deeply bonded them and encouraged them to look past these once-limiting boundaries,” says Mark McIntire, Fuse Media head of marketing. “Millennials understand the power of being united and want to work together to improve the world for themselves and future generations. They also expect companies that are looking to engage with them to follow suit. We are sharing these findings with our brand and agency partners, as we help them identify the best opportunities to reach this ‘We Generation.’”

The study also showed that Millennials find brands more trustworthy than social media influencers and celebrities and more influential than the government. Fuse suggests that to live up to that trust, brands
prioritize inclusion, understand that members of this group share passions with others who don’t necessarily look like them, and be bold by speaking out on key issues.

Fuse’s survey found that 88 percent of Millennials “like when a brand appeals to more than one person,” while 85 percent agree “a brand should be something everyone can enjoy.” Also, 85 percent of Millennials believe brands should market to people based on interests and passions, and not by what they look like.

The study reports that 81 percent of Millennials like when brands give underrepresented groups a platform and a voice, and 77 percent say their favorite brands value inclusivity. When asked about the most important characteristics they want to see in ads from their favorite brands, 79 percent of Millennials said diversity—compared to 78 percent who said representative of me—and 65 percent said feature people different than me, with 63 percent said features people like me.

More than half (55 percent) of Millennials say that taking a stand on political issues is an important characteristic for brands to have, with 67 percent finding it important for them to take a stand on social issues and 67 percent saying it's important for them to take risks. In fact, 72 percent of Millennials like when brands take a clear stance on social and cultural issues—versus 63 percent of GenXers—and 63 percent expect brands to speak out on social and cultural issues “whether I agree with it or not.”

Brands should also be careful not to appear as “just going through the motions.” The study found that 85 percent of Millennials agree that “it’s obvious when brands try too hard to appear inclusive or diverse” and 84 percent agree that “sometimes it feels like brands are just checking a box when it comes to diversity.”

Fuse Media used its research to develop a unity score to determine which brands are best connecting with young people, driven by key values Millennials want brands to have: inclusivity, cultural-awareness and risk-taking. Of the nearly 200 brands most-loved by Millennials, the 10 with the highest unity score—which based on the research were emblematic of inclusion across races, cultures and body types—include (in alphabetical order) Amazon, Disney, Dove, Fenty Beauty, Kellogg’s, Netflix, Nike, Old Navy, Target and Walmart.