Six Key Differences Drive Multicultural Consumer Behavior


Over the past five years, multicultural consumers* have accounted for 100 percent of the U.S. population growth and 61 percent of credit union membership growth. As the population becomes increasingly diverse, understanding cultural differences might cause credit unions to reconsider their communication messages and product delivery channels.

CUNA Mutual Group’s What Matters Now™: Insights from Multicultural Consumers research uncovered significant differences in behavioral areas such as financial product ownership and research behaviors. It also uncovered six attitudinal themes in which multicultural consumers ranked considerably higher than white consumers: optimism, hustle, living in the moment, worry, generosity, and community spirit.


This behavioral area focuses on a mindset that includes hopefulness and confidence about the future. People of color view optimism as an element of their identity significantly higher than the white population. Additionally, African American, Hispanic, and Asian consumers responded “yes” twice as often than white consumers when asked whether they believed they would become rich in their lifetime.


It’s about more than having multiple streams of income. CUNA’s research showed a much deeper definition — one of resilience and creativity and, like optimism, hustle is often fueled by hopes and dreams, as well as concern for others. Multicultural consumers feel that always striving for excellence is an important part of their personal identity and growth. Think of all the ways you can align with multicultural consumers as they strive to achieve their financial goals. A few to consider include loans for school and businesses, savings plans for reaching goals and retirement, and giving back to the community.

Living in the moment

There’s more to this behavior than spontaneous purchases. We found that multicultural consumers value the experiences around purchases and sharing those purchases with others more than the material item itself. Living in the moment is a goal with 42 percent of Hispanic consumers, compared to 23 percent of white consumers, saying they strive to live in the moment.


What people worry about varies greatly among ethnic groups. While one in five Asian consumers worries about having enough money to care for a parent or loved one, white consumers are most concerned about retirement and health care costs. African American consumers share the same concerns, plus paying bills and mortgages. Hispanic consumers’ worries are more pronounced across all areas.


While white and Asian consumers might be more likely to purchase traditional passive investment products, such as mutual funds, Hispanic and African American consumers might take a more active approach. They prefer to finance a family or local business, something that’s connected to them, something they can touch and feel rather than giving their money to a financial institution.

Community Spirit

Multicultural consumers think about their family, extended family, and even their community more often when it comes to financial decisions. African American and Hispanic consumers believe they can achieve more by working together — eight to 16 percentage points above that of white consumers.

Consider how these cultural differences can and will impact your credit union’s performance. Download our e-book at to learn more.

* For this research our definition of multicultural focused specifically on race and ethnicity as defined by the U.S. Census: African American, Asian, Hispanic, and Non-Hispanic White.

Editor’s note: Opal Tomashevska, the Multicultural Business Strategy Manager at CUNA Mutual Group, is the author of this article.

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Corporate headquarters are in Madison, Wis.


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