Is The All-American Family White, Heterosexual With Kids?

HP is out with the results of a thought-provoking new study about what it means to be an “All-American family.”

My first reaction before reading: What does that even mean? I’ve always thought of the phrase as a cliché that’s been hyped and touted in one form or another by marketers flogging products to aspirational consumers looking to fill an ill-defined void in their lives.

A lot of other people apparently wonder what the phrase means as well.

The study found that about 80% of the 2000 respondents agreed that it’s “difficult to define an ‘All-American Family’ because America is so diverse.” (And nearly half feel the definition is changing over time.)

I agree. The point of the exercise (or at least part of it) is that there is no single definition, but lots of perceived notions about what that phrase means.

HP says it wants to start a conversation regarding “how Americans perceive themselves, their own families and the representations they see of All-American Families.” The company said the respondents comprised a nationally representative sample that included eight minorities (African Americans, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, mixed-raced couples/families, LGBT, Muslim, immigrant).  



And while most say it’s a hard term to define, when pressed, 74% of the survey respondents identify an All-American family as being white, heterosexual with children. Which means a lot of people don’t self-identify with the term because only 35% of respondents fit that profile.

Some 45% of Asian-Americans consider their families All-American versus 52% who believe others would describe them in same way.

Also, 68% of LGBTQ people consider their families All-American versus 58% who believe others would describe them in same way.

Although 95% of those surveyed claim to have a close relationship with their family, about one-third have cut ties with family members because of their intolerance.

Also about one-third said they would be nervous to bring home a significant other of a different race.

The survey included an “inherent bias test” to compare what people were saying with what they actually believe. For example, while nearly 70% of respondents said All-American families include interracial couples, just 56% of those surveyed actually believe it, per the study.

HP also did a video highlighting some of the study results.

The company has been on a mission to diversify its marketing efforts for some time. Up to now, it’s been led by CMO Antonio Lucio who is leaving at the end of the month for Facebook, where he’ll also take on the CMO role.

Two years ago, the firm told its ad agencies to increase the diversity of talent on the account teams working on HP business and last year issued a “report card” on progress.

One curious part of the new study is a section dedicated to the role of photos in family, which didn’t seem to have much to do with the topic. There wasn’t much disagreement that people like to preserve family memories and photos help do that.  Oh wait, now that I think about it, HP might have a product or two in the image-producing department doesn’t it?

HP commissioned Edelman Intelligence Data to produce the study, based on an online survey conducted in June.


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