Millennials today are calling out for diversity and fair character representations across all forms of media. This generation of viewers is concerned about the lack of minority group representation among characters, as well as the inclusion of current social issues in storylines. For example, while racial inequality, gun control and mental health issues have been widely debated and discussed in mainstream media, there is one millennial audience with a strong voice for inclusion that may surprise you: comic book fans!

First, it’s important to note that comic book fandom is not as niche as it once was. Many people now identify themselves as comic fans, with 72% of Millennials indicating they consume comic book content all the time or very often. In fact, only a small percentage of Millennials would not consider themselves fans of comic book content at all, as shown in the graph below:

Since Marvel created their cinematic universe in 2008, many have seen the potential for comic book movies to be a driving force to spark discussion of social and political issues. It’s no wonder that many fans are beginning to expect comic book film and TV adaptation content to reflect social changes and causes that fans are advocating for on their own. In fact, nearly two-fifths of Millennial respondents wish there were more female heros (38%) and one-third (34%) request a more diverse set of superheroes.  Comic book fans are already aware of plot themes and characters that represent current social issues including Racial Equality (56%), Gender Equality (51%), Environmental Protection (40%), Domestic Abuse Prevention (35%), and LGBTQ Rights (35%). And these same fans want even more:

In addition to wanting current and socially relevant plotlines, Millennials are also vocal about the kind of superheroes who will portray these issues. Which are the existing characters that viewers care about and want to see spotlighted in mainstream media? Here’s how some Millennials responded:

“Captain Planet is one that I can think of. I feel like he deserves his own movie because it’s a popular cartoon show. They are trying to save the earth from pollution. I guess in that sense you can say that I feel the connection with the characters because I too care for the earth and our environment.” – Female, 30

“Ever since the first Avengers movie came out, all I’ve wanted was Black Widow movie. Actually, most people in the community have wanted a Black Widow movie since then. It took like five years for us to get a female superhero movie at all, albeit Wonder Woman is pretty fantastic.” – Female, 25

“I grew up watching Static Shock when I was in elementary school. Whenever I got home, it would show on TV and I always got immersed into the series. I think the situations he dealt with as a young black super hero made me relate to him.” – Male, 19

“I would love to see a movie based on either Gwenpool or Spider-Girl. I think girls need more superheroes of the women variety to give them something to look up to. I think both of these are much underplayed roles in the superhero movies and maybe not even seen at all.” – Female, 33

Films like “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther” have already started to show how superhero films can be about social issues and still crush at the box-office; the latter now ranks 10th in the highest grossing movies of all time and it’s still climbing. On the smaller screens, popular Netflix shows like “Jessica Jones” and “The Punisher” have shed light on issues like rape and PTSD and have gained quite a following.  Some Millennials acknowledge the risk of having beloved characters tackle social issues and the effect on their popularity According  to our findings, 16% of Millennials believe that comic book content is becoming too politically correct and 8% believe social causes have no place in the fantasy world of comics.

However, 33% of Millennials believe there should be more risk taking with diverse characters and topics and 20% believe the genre has come a long way and are happy with their progress so far. So clearly, regardless of risk, Millennials have stronger beliefs in inclusion and having more diverse stories be told.

If we assume that comic books and comic book media will continue to advance plot lines and character development that is reflective of current socio-political issues, can we also assume that fans will continue to support these changes?  If we examine our Millennial findings we can see that there will be a heavy amount of support for this trend and many might start to see comic book fans as advocates for diversity and inclusion.


Tom Moore
Community Manager

QSRs or OTT?
Millennials weigh in on what they can and can’t live without

“Tech savvy”, “disruptive”, and “connected” are words all too often used to describe millennials.  According to our new survey on Millennials, Taxes and Money conducted using the Fullscreen TBH panel, we can now add a new descriptor to this lexicon, “financially responsible.”

Millennials are confident when it comes to managing their own finances, with nearly two thirds (62%) giving themselves an above average grade of B or better.  Their self-reliance, may in part be prompted by their tepid outlook for the US economy (an average of “3” rating on a 1-5 optimism scale). When planning for their financial future millennials report putting their financial ambition ahead of their passions.

Millennials are no strangers to leaning on fintech resources with nearly half (48%) already using financial apps like Amazon Cash or Mint. Over three-quarters (78%) find saving tips online.


Rather than being frivolous with their money, we found that millennials have or would consider several concrete money saving strategies.   Practical within limits seems to be their motto as there are some things that they simply could never do without.  They will cut back on trips to the salon or even Starbucks before they cut back on their video entertainment.  Here’s what they can and can’t live without.

Millennials are financially savvy, but can they do their own taxes?

With Tax Day approaching, Leflein’s Millennials, Taxes & Money survey uncovers how millennials are reshaping businesses as they tackle their taxes.

More than half of millennials (53%) plan to do their own taxes this year. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of 18-24 year olds still rely on their parents to file for them (vs. 3% among 25-34 year olds).

A plurality (46%)  of millennials express positive feelings about Tax Day. “Responsible” is the feeling that tops the list, particularly with men ages 25-34 (26%). Younger millennials express much less positive feelings towards Tax Day compared to those 25-34 (37% vs 53% respectively).

Three-quarters of millennials (76%) are thinking responsibly, choosing to pay bills, invest, or pay off debt with any tax refund they might get.  The top 5 things millennials plan to spend their tax refund on are:


Nearly seven in ten millennials (68%) have used a tax preparation service or software in the past.  But what can tax preparation companies, accountants, and financial services professionals do to engage with millennials? Offer new technologies that are personalized, cost effective and offer speed are key to responding to this always-on, digitally mobile generation.


Today, nearly half (48%) of millennials already use one or more financial apps. Some fintech payment apps, like Paypal and Venmo, are now just as popular among millennials as direct deposit with 57% and 54% using either within the past month.

Millennials are certainly tech savvy and practical about their finances, however this group is not monolithic. Brands targeting millennials should consider their needs first when developing financial resources, products and services.


While Consumers Expect This Year’s Super Bowl Ads to Address Social Issues Costly Mistakes Could Damage Brand Equity

Leflein Associates Unveils Latest Marketing Research Techniques to Advertisers Looking to Align Their Brand with Social Causes

Ringwood, New Jersey, January 30, 2018--– Leflein Associates, a trailblazer in the emerging field of brand receptivity research, is offering its latest insights on social issues and diversity inclusion sensitivities that should be considered during any ad campaign to avoid costly mistakes and improve marketing effectiveness.

Leflein Brand Receptivity Index

“Today, more than ever, companies need to become culturally aware and informed when making advertising decisions about how they portray women and multicultural audiences. By basing creative decisions on data-driven evidence CMO’s can preempt social media disasters and sleep better at night,” said Barbara Leflein, President and CEO of Leflein Associates.

“Recently we’ve seen far too many high-profile mistakes advertisers have made that have cost them dearly through social media backlash. Those are the things we can help our clients avoid by simply taking the time up-front to utilize our methodology and apply it,” she added.

Whether it is racial inequality, immigration or women’s rights, it’s important to explore whether consumers give the brand permission to genuinely support a particular cause. According to a recent study conducted by Leflein and GenForward national survey of 1,816 adults 18-34, 88 percent of millennials cited a social issue they would like brands to bring attention to in their advertising efforts.

Yet, despite millennials’ well documented passion for social causes, two out of five are skeptical, believing that companies only pretend to care or that brands and social issues don’t mix. Brands that do take on a social cause have to tread very lightly, as the study found that 80 percent of millennials said they would take action against the brand whose advertising mishandled a social issue they care most about.

This Sunday, advertisers will pay an average $3.8 Million for a commercial in the Super Bowl, which are big investments with big potential payoffs. These ads, according to a recent article appearing in Advertising Age, will face scrutiny amid the #metoo movement, for how women are portrayed, if included at all.

Brands that want to align themselves with women’s empowerment should note that younger millennial women 18-24 are 21% more likely than men in this age group (58% vs. 48% respectively) to say they would stop purchasing or spread the word to boycott a brand if it mishandled a social issue they were passionate about. “Advertisers are always at risk of making tone deaf mistakes, but a fumble at the Super Bowl can get you benched indefinitely,” Leflein cautioned.

Leflein Associates has developed a measurement technique called a Brand Receptivity Index™ (BRI), a proprietary methodology used for studying how a brand is received by the audience they are looking to reach with their message. When determining if any social cause is appropriate to the brand and whether brand messages are on point, it’s paramount to be sensitive to the perceptions of diverse audiences.

Addressing today’s pressing advertising needs, Leflein Associates is introducing its BRI Workshops for B2C and B2B companies. The Workshops are designed in two to three hour sessions for advertisers interested in connecting with the passions of diverse millennial audiences. These workshops can be tailored to a particular event or need based on the requirements of the client. For more information on arranging a BRI Workshop, go to: www.leflein.com.


About Leflein Associates

Headquartered in Ringwood, New Jersey, Leflein Associates specializes in custom market research, innovation techniques, and advanced analytics. The firm is a 100 percent woman-owned, full-service market research company specializing in branding, PR surveys, global A&U tracking, employee surveys, ad testing and new product ideation in the B2B and B2C sectors.

An award winning research provider, Leflein is on the cutting edge of advertising, business messaging, branding and culture mining. Leflein is located within an hour’s drive from the heart of Manhattan, the media capital of the world. At Leflein, Research Empowers Creativity!

Copyright © 2018 Leflein. All Rights Reserved. All trademarks, trade names, service marks, and logos referenced herein belong to their respective companies.

The GenForward Survey of Millennials is led by Dr. Cathy Cohen from the University of Chicago. It is the first of its kind—a nationally representative survey of over 1,750 young adults ages 18-34 conducted bimonthly that pays special attention to how race and ethnicity shape how respondents experience and think about the world.

The sample from which this data comes includes 1,816 respondents with oversamples of African American, Latino/as and Asian American Millennials. Data was collected from August 31 through September 16, 2017. Contact: Cathy J. Cohen, Founder and Director GenForward, University of Chicago.

How Millennial Brand Activism Can Hurt Your Bottom Line

Millennials Take Action Against A Tone Deaf Brand

Should Brands Support or Sidestep Social Causes?

A staggering 80% of millennials said they’d take action against a brand whose advertising mishandles a social issue they most care about; 44% would go as far as to stop buying the brand altogether.

These findings are from a recent study conducted by Leflein in partnership with GenForward Survey of Millennials, a nationally representative bimonthly survey out of the University of Chicago.

Now more than ever, brands need to be pre-emptive, investing in ad testing and taking a TMA (Total Marketing Approach) to avoid the time, resources and embarrassment that goes along with having to rehabilitate their image. “Not only do advertisers run the real risk of social media brand activism to an insensitive campaign, a poorly conceived ad can hurt the bottom line,” according to Barbara Leflein, President of Leflein Associates.

This study comes on the heels of last week’s news of Unilever’s Dove Body Wash pulling its latest Facebook ad amidst social outrage over their depiction of a black woman removing her brown shirt to reveal a white woman.

To think, this is still happening in a year of advertising debacles such as Beiersdorf’s Nivea Deodorant “White is Purity” ad and Pepsi’s now infamous Kendall Jenner protest spot, that are tone deaf to the needs and sensitivities of diverse audiences.

Through this research, Leflein wanted to better understand  what the highly diverse millennial population thought about the relationship of brand advertising and social causes.

Other Key Findings

  • Almost all millennials (87%) cited an issue that they would like brands to bring attention to through advertising.
  • Of the 20 social issues tested, racial equality is the number one social cause millennials want brands to support.
  • African American millennials are three times as likely as white millennials to favor brand support of racial equality as their #1 cause (36% vs. 11% respectively).
  • Other top box social issues millennials are interested in seeing attention brought to include global warming (11% total millennials vs. 4% African Americans), immigration (19% among Latinos compared to 3% of whites) and income equality (12% among Asian Americas vs. 7% of whites).

Skepticism for Brands and Social Causes

Considering all the recent misfires, it is not surprising that not all millennials trust brands to tackle social issues in their advertising. Two out of five millennials (40%) are skeptical; believing that companies only pretend to care (23%) or that brands and social issues don’t mix (17%).

Final Word

Only 10% of millennials report that they are more likely to buy products from companies that tackle social issues they care about compared to four times as many saying they wouldn’t buy a brand’s product or service if they mishandled the social cause.

“This data suggests that brands should very carefully consider and test their ads with diverse consumers before embarking on a campaign that grapples with social causes. There’s more to lose from a poorly executed ad campaign than there is to gain from increased sales,” according to Barbara Leflein.

How Mood Impacts Ad Receptivity: ARF RE!THINK Presentation 2017

Thank you for the taking the time time to play our ad receptivity scratch off challenge!


We hope you found our presentation at ARF RE!THINK 2017 exciting and insightful! Please feel free to download the presentation below and reach out to us personally for more information.

We would love to discuss further with you the importance of ad receptivity, and its impact on advertising, programming, and branding objectives.