Description

This report explores how consumers express their identity, and how this affects brands. Below, we define the report scope, summarize the key topics covered, and offer handpicked insights from the report itself.

Report Scope

This report segments consumers based on how they express their identity. You’ll begin by understanding the characteristics and demographics that form each audience segment. In this context, our expert reveals opportunities for brands to effectively target and promote engagement. Whatever industry you’re in, knowing how consumers think and what they want when it comes to identity is likely to be important for 2023 and beyond.

Key Topics Covered

  • The way in which consumers define and consider their identity.
  • How consumers express their identity to others through their outward appearance and digital personas.
  • The impact of authentic self-expression and appearance on consumers’ mental wellbeing.
  • Challenges consumers face in pursuit of expressing their identity, and the opportunities for brands to aid consumers’ drive for self-expression.

How Consumers Express Their Identity: Fast Facts

  • Overall, consumers are split 50/50 on whether they want their outward/expressed appearance to help them blend in, or stand out. This changes generationally, however. The older consumers get, the more likely they are to want to blend in.
  • Similar to the above point, consumers are equally divided on how they view their identity and personal style in media. It’s also split roughly down the middle on whether consumers feel they’re represented in the mainstream media. Our data suggests that younger consumers feel they can be themselves and at the same time still feel seen and represented. (See our Media Industry Report.)
  • When asked to rank their top three factors that influence their identity, consumers place their role in their family as the top factor. Brands can strive to tap into the familial connection that consumers feel toward their expression of identity.

How Can Brands Connect to Consumers’ Sense of Identity?

Close to half of all consumers already state that the brands they wear and showcase are important in demonstrating their identity to others. This gives brands a headstart. But, there’s more to be done; just over half feel that certain brands perfectly align with who they are. So, there’s scope to reach more consumers on a deeper, identity level. Brands can tap into existing successful consumer connections while exploring new avenues to facilitate consumers’ sense of self and self-expression.

Additional Features Included in Your Report

Different Digital Formats: PDF for conveniently sharing with your team, PowerPoint for quickly including in your presentation, plus as an Infographic and an Excel Databook.

Mintel’s Clients Portal: Our portal provides instant access to actionable analysis, podcasts, and trend pieces relevant to your industry that are published almost daily, as well as our annual Global Consumer Trends. You can also browse our extensive catalog of market research reports.

Expert Analysis

This report, written by leading culture and identity analyst Lisa Dubina, reveals what identity means on a consumer level, and how to approach identity effectively as a brand.

Consumers use a range of channels to represent and communicate who they are – or who they want to be – to other people. Authentic self-expression can directly impact their mental wellbeing, as well as help them build likeminded communities. Brands are already embedded into facets of consumers’ identity and expression; but by further appealing to and empowering consumers’ unique sense of self, brands can develop deep emotional and multidimensional relationships with their consumers.

Lisa Dubina, Senior Analyst Culture and Identity

 

Lisa Dubina
Associate Director | Culture & Identity

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas:
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Consumer trends
    • Defining and expressing identity is multifaceted and complex
      • Figure 1: Influence on identity (any rank), 2023
      • Figure 2: Expressions of identity, 2023
    • Outer appearance plays a crucial role in self-expression for the majority of consumers
      • Figure 3: Importance of appearance, by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, and by LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
    • Authentic self-expression is closely intertwined with mental wellbeing
      • Figure 4: Impact of self-expression, by generation, 2023
    • Future outlook
      • Figure 5: Category outlook, 2023-28
    • Market opportunities
    • Brands are already key to consumers’ sense of self and self-expression
      • Figure 6: Role of brands in identity and self-expression, by generation, 2023
    • Utilizing cross-category partnerships to create multifaceted connections with consumers
    • Empowering consumers to celebrate all aspects of their identity
    • Facilitating communication and community-building through shared interests
    • Competitive strategies
    • Infiniti celebrates the greatest luxury of all – being yourself
      • Figure 7: Infinity – Pep talk, 2023
    • Estrella Jalisco campaign blends brand loyalty, cultural identity and self-expression
      • Figure 8: Estrella Jalisco offers a tattoo of a lifetime, 2023
    • Spotify Unwrapped provides musical personalization
      • Figure 9: #spotifywrapped personality types, 2023
  3. Key Consumer Segments

    • The majority of consumers actively express their identity and personality to others
      • Figure 10: Expression and identity types, cluster segmentation, 2023
    • Factors
    • Segments
    • Unique and Notable Standouts (33%)
      • Figure 11: Expression and identity types, Unique and Notable Standouts, 2023
    • Expressive Explorers (15%)
      • Figure 12: Expression and identity types, Expressive Explorers, 2023
    • Mainstream Socializers (17%)
      • Figure 13: Expression and identity types, Mainstream Socializers, 2023
    • Unengaged Tried and True (12%) and Outwardly Unengaged (23%)
      • Figure 14: Expression and identity types, Unengaged Tried and True Consumers, 2023
      • Figure 15: Expression and identity types, Outwardly Unengaged, 2023
  4. The Consumer – Fast Facts

  5. Defining Identity

    • Consumers are divided on whether they want to stand out or fit in, and generation plays an influential role
      • Figure 16: Role of appearance, by generation, 2023
    • Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ consumers are more likely to want to stand out rather than blend in
      • Figure 17: Role of appearance, by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, and by LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
    • Younger consumers feel represented in mainstream trends, yet at the same time consider their own style to be unique
      • Figure 18: Representation in the mainstream, by generation, 2023
    • Their family, talents and hobbies have the greatest influence on consumers’ identity and their sense of self
      • Figure 19: Influence on identity (any rank), 2023
    • Younger consumers are more likely to prioritize the influence of their social circles and hobbies or interests
      • Figure 20: Influence on identity (any rank), by generation, 2023
    • Black, Hispanic and Asian consumers are more likely to note the influence of their cultural history and personal appearance
      • Figure 21: Influence on identity (any rank), by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, 2023
    • Brand spotlight: Dove + LinkedIn Partnership to help end race-based hair discrimination
      • Figure 22: Both are qualified – LinkedIn and Dove take on workplace hair discrimination, 2023
  6. Expressions of Identity

    • Consumers are just as likely to use intangible assets to express their personality and individuality as they are consumable commodities
      • Figure 23: Expressions of identity, 2023
    • Younger consumers rely more on channels overall to express their identity than older generations
      • Figure 24: Expressions of identity, by generation, 2023
    • Black consumers prioritize their appearance, while Hispanic consumers are more likely to express themselves through food
      • Figure 25: Expressions of identity, by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, 2023
    • Half of consumers feel it’s important that others understand who they are, and a similar share feels their outward appearance communicates this
      • Figure 26: Outward appearance, by generation, 2023
    • Men and LGBTQ+ consumers are more likely feel their appearance represents their individuality and who they are
      • Figure 27: Outward appearance, by gender, and by LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
  7. Expressing Identity through Outward Appearance

    • The majority feel their outward appearance is an important reflection of their identity
      • Figure 28: Importance of appearance, by generation, 2023
    • Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ consumers prioritize the role of their physical appearance
      • Figure 29: Importance of appearance, by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, and by LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
    • Clothing and hairstyle are the primary facets of outer appearance used to communicate personality and individuality
      • Figure 30: Aspects of physical appearance, 2023
    • Gen Zs are the driving force behind using fashion accessories, nail art and body art to express themselves
      • Figure 31: Aspects of physical appearance, by generation, 2023
      • Figure 32: TV’s Best dressed character, Harper’s Bazaar, 2022
    • Women are more likely to utilize their hairstyle, makeup and nails to express their personality, while four in 10 men rely on their footwear
      • Figure 33: Aspects of physical appearance, by gender, 2023
      • Figure 34: Airbnb appeals to sneaker culture, Airbnb, 2022
    • Gen Zs and Millennials use their personal style as a way to connect and communicate to others
      • Figure 35: Connect and communicate, by generation, 2023
    • There’s a long history of using personal style to signal and communicate with others in the LGBTQ+ community
      • Figure 36: Connect and communicate, by gender, and by LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
      • Figure 37: them regales the history of flagging in LGBTQ+ communities, 2023
  8. Outward Appearance and Mental Health

    • Authentic style can empower consumers and impact their mood or emotions
      • Figure 38: Impact of style on mood, by gender and by LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
    • Black and Hispanic consumers are more likely to feel their personal style can impact their mood
      • Figure 39: Impact of style on mood, by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, 2023
    • For young consumers, self-expression can be about exploration and experimentation
      • Figure 40: Emulate and explore, by generation, 2023
    • Most consumers adjust their appearance depending on the situation, but a third feel the need to suppress their identity in certain situations
      • Figure 41: Changes and challenges in outward appearance, by generation, 2023
      • Figure 42: Changes and challenges in outward appearance, by gender, and by LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
  9. Expressing Identity through Media and Digital Spaces

    • Music and TV shows are the top forms of media consumers use to express their personality
      • Figure 43: Expressions of identity – Media and social media, 2023
      • Figure 44: Aspects of media used, 2023
    • Brand spotlight: Spotify Unwrapped provides musical personalization
      • Figure 45: #spotifywrapped personality types, 2023
    • Women are more likely to use the shows they watch and the books they read, while men and LGBTQ+ consumers use the video games they play
      • Figure 46: Free people + Amazon Prime – The Daisy Jones and the Six Capsule Collection
      • Figure 47: Aspects of media used, by gender, and by LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
    • Gen Zs use their physical appearance on social media and the brands they follow to express their individuality
      • Figure 48: Aspects of social media used, by generation, 2023
    • More than half of Gen Z and Millennial consumers feel their “look” online is different and more authentic than their “look” in person
      • Figure 49: Expressive comfort online, by generation, 2023
    • LGBTQ+, Black and Hispanic consumers are also more likely to feel their online identity is different and more accurate than their identity in person
      • Figure 50: Expressive comfort online, by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, and by LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
  10. Challenges of Expression and the Role of Brands

    • Personal style and self-expression can be affected by social events and economic factors
      • Figure 51: Impact of current events, by generation, 2023
    • Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ consumers are more likely to notice the impact of current events on their self-expression
      • Figure 52: Impact of current events, by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, and LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
    • Gen Z and Millennial consumers are most likely to worry about finding authentic clothing and being stereotyped by others
      • Figure 53: Challenges to self-expression, by generation, 2023
      • Figure 54: Challenges to self-expression, by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, and LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
    • Although brands play an important role in consumers’ self-expression, they are less likely to feel the brands can represent their full identity
      • Figure 55: Brands and self-expression, by generation, 2023
    • Black and LGBTQ+ consumers are more likely to rely on brands to demonstrate their identity
      • Figure 56: Brands and self-expression, by ethnicity and Hispanic origin, and LGBTQ+ identity, 2023
    • Younger consumers are more likely to feel the need to supress aspects of their identity at the time, but certain brands can help them
      • Figure 57: Opportunities for brands, by generation, 2023
    • Brand spotlight: Amazon empowers customers to embrace their so-called flaws
      • Figure 58: Cool Cat in Amazon’s “’Tashe” commercial, 2023
  11. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Brands appealing to consumers’ Me Mentality
    • Infiniti celebrates the greatest luxury of all – being yourself
      • Figure 59: Infinity – Pep talk, 2023
    • Cetaphil uses AI technology to empower sensitive skin consumers
      • Figure 60: Cetaphil’s personalized AI skin analysis, 2023
    • Estrella Jalisco campaign blends brand loyalty, cultural identity and self-expression
      • Figure 61: Estrella Jalisco offers a tattoo of a lifetime, 2023
    • Nike revolutionizes and personalizes the retail shopping experience
      • Figure 62: Nike Style – Nike’s new retail store concept, 2023
  12. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

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