Championing and promoting inclusion and diversity in marketing is not new. For decades, many leading companies have made conscious efforts to alter a long-standing practice of creating advertising that failed to consider the broad and differing cultural aspects of a brand’s targeted audience. In the past year, many brands have stepped up efforts to reevaluate how they are perceived among the overall marketplace and have adjusted advertising efforts to better appeal to a diverse and differing population who favor marketing collateral that reflects a truer reality.
It should not be surprising that consumers respond more favorably to a brand’s advertisements when they look like them. While most brands understand the importance of practicing diversity and inclusive marketing tactics, a recent survey conducted by NewsCred revealed that 91% of marketers agreed there is still room for improvement in showcasing diversity in marketing. 88% of those surveyed felt that using more diversity in advertising images would improve the brand’s reputation.
Studies show that the most recent generations of consumers favor companies who practice inclusive advertising. “It isn’t about whether you should be inclusive or not,” says Virginia Lennon, Senior Vice President at Ipsos and lead of Multicultural Center of Excellence. “Consumers expect to be properly reflected and when they aren’t, there is real risk they will just turn off.” We have evolved to understand the importance of content that is authentic, honest, and trustworthy. “Millennials can sniff out when you are trying to put them into a box, so anything that seems heavy handed, they will reject,” warns Lennon. Consumers are far more sensitive to messages that fail to pass the proverbial “smell test”.
In many enclaves of creative formulation, diversity is lacking. It is often hard to be in an environment where the population is a matter of “sameness” and create content that reflects those not in attendance. In short, we all tend to see the world as those who are in attendance around us and fail to recognize that the rest of our market perceives messaging from different experiences. Warren Moss, CEO of Demographica, suggests that “In order to reach and resonate with those diverse audiences, you need a diverse output. And that’s impossible if you don’t diversify the creative and strategic team that comes up with the campaign in the first place. It’s so simple really: Diversify the input to the creative process, and you get a different, completely unique and powerful output.”
Race and ethnicity are not the only identifiers that need additional consideration in marketing content creation. Consumers identify themselves with body shape, size, age, sexual orientation, physical ability, as well as skin color and nationality. “Brands can now see the opportunity for innovation as well as growth and talent for an $8 trillion market,” says Caroline Casey, the founder of the Valuable 500, a worldwide initiative that encourages companies to push for the needs of disabled people.
The goal of implementing diverse and inclusive tactics is to expand a brand’s consumer base and drive increased revenues. Research conducted by Marketing Charts revealed that “62% of consumers feel like a brand’s diversity (or lack thereof) has a direct impact on how they perceive its products and services.” Consumers tend to have more trust in a brand that demonstrates that inclusivity is important. 34% have indicated that they would stop using a brand that failed to recognize the customer’s identity. Advertising should mirror the image of the society and is best when the natural expression of a brand’s reputation is authentic and successfully impacts the desires of the broader marketplace. Diversity and inclusion in marketing absolutely matter to consumers.