One need only analyse the difference between popular brand campaigns over the years – such as Calvin Klein’s 2009 and 2023 campaigns – to see the impact that inclusivity has had in the last decade.
As consumers strive for inclusivity, advertisers should be recognizing the value of embracing real-world diversity – supporting those historically ‘underrepresented, excluded or stereotypically portrayed’ in more than just their marketing.
However, despite multiple brands clearly reaping the benefits from Diverse and Inclusive initiatives, only 52% of marketers globally recall minority ethnicities being represented positively in their recent campaigns, with only 15% of positive representation for people with physical or mental disabilities. With consumers across Europe choosing to view brands in a much broader context, those that miss the mark, or are ‘associated with counterproductive’ exclusive actions risk losing consumer appeal in comparison to their more-inclusive peers – tainting their brand status.
The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion
The last couple of years has showed us that the world was tired of tokenism, white-washing and one-size-fits-all marketing. And while the need for exposure for underrepresented minorities isn’t about ROI; research by McKinsey shows, brands with a more diverse workforce perform better financially than those who don’t. In fact, businesses in the top quartile for gender, racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns compared to their respective national industry medians. Organizations with an inclusive and diverse workforce produce stronger ideas, genuine customer engagements, and higher financial gains. Which in turn, allows a company to develop deeper connections with their consumers, and build a palpable brand sentiment.
With 59% of consumers rewarding brands that realistically capture real-world diversity, inclusivity is fast becoming expected within advertising, and the value placed on diverse and ethical messaging is beyond immeasurable. It would be ignorant to ignore the power advertisers & marketers hold when it comes to demonstrating inclusivity and diversity. Moving forward with improving representation in advertising is incremental for real-world change.
As marketers, we play a key role in the efforts to diversify and encourage equality throughout the industry. If brands participate in inclusive practices, they can satisfy consumer demands, open up their businesses to a wealth of opportunity and support those traditionally excluded and underrepresented.
Diversify from the Ground Up
With diversity and inclusion high on the public agenda, brands should strive for inclusive, and intersectional representation within their marketing efforts – and one way this can be achieved is through diversification of the workplace. A diverse and inclusive work environment can help brands better relate to their consumers. With 86% of Gen Y’ers believing that differences of opinion – brought about by racial and ethnic diversity – allow a team and business to excel, brands should be focused on diversifying their company from the ground up.
How do you diversify your business? There are a number of ways to achieve diversity in the workplace:
- Embrace diversity, inclusion and authenticity as core values within your business
- Invest in diverse practices to better the work environment and culture
- Provide mentorship opportunities that allows the company to support the wider community
- Onboard technologies or software’s that reduce the burden of unconscious bias within the hiring process
- Regularly survey the thoughts and feelings of employees, implementing any procedure necessary to create a safe and open working environment for all
- Educate your workforce on the recurring issues surrounding diversity and inclusion within the workplace
Educate your Teams
In an ever evolving landscape brands must continue to learn and grow to keep up with the industry and their consumers.
The importance of educating your team is paramount to ensuring that you can foster diversity & inclusion within your marketing. Simply put, you can only get out what you put in.
Here at Incubeta, we believe that providing training to our employees on topics surrounding micro-aggressions, gender & race issues leads to a more inclusive culture, and one that can ensure they can give informed input when it comes to supporting clients on diverse marketing choices.
By educating your employees on sociocultural issues, you can create more authentic, inclusive campaigns, which in turn, shows your support for your workforce, by representing their specific minorities & uniqueness. There are a number of ways in which you can educate your employees.
- Set measurable goals and outcomes
- Identify company blindspots and build solutions to support these
- Start at the ‘leadership level’ educating your company leaders to use their position and expertise to promote diversity and inclusion
- Introduce tailored workshops to improve company diversification
- Use external agencies or hire an experienced consultant to inform your training approach
- Consistency is key – training should be a continuous process
- Be sure to tailor your approach to best fit your company and brand values
Advertisers should strive to embrace real-world diversity, demonstrating inclusive practices, not just to reflect consumer demands but to play a crucial role in the continual diversification of the industry.
With the rise of dynamic, targeted campaigns, hitting the sweet spot with personalization means that practices have to broaden their messaging to attract people of all sizes, orientations & races. When considering gender specification or discrimination, brands should ensure that product descriptions are gender neutral – throwing away out-dated binaries that don’t benefit the USP of what you’re selling.
There are a number of ways to promote inclusivity within your ad messaging:
- Use inclusive language free from stereotypes, discrimination and appropriation
- Be genuine in your messaging
- Resonate both consciously and subconsciously with your audience using your individual understanding of inclusivity to inform your messaging
- Monitor your messaging around key retail events such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day to avoid being discriminatory towards individuals with specific family and relationship dynamics
- Let your messaging reflect your customer base; don’t fall into the trap of appropriation
Inclusive marketing isn’t something that sits on a checklist, it should be inherent to your brand – something that you continually work on to make customers feel valued, represented and appreciated.
For more information on how you can implement diverse and inclusive marketing get in touch with us today.
*This blog was originally published in 2021, and has since been updated.