When these changing trends are coupled with an extremely crowded marketplace where consumers see upwards of 10,000 advertisements a day, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to break through the noise and attract new customers if they’re not adapting to the times. And one way to shine through and appeal, especially to younger generations, is to create and nurture structures that help you display an authentic commitment to diversity and inclusion across your brand.
But you must tread carefully and lightly, because consumers are smart and insightful, and they can see through diversity attempts that are haphazard and slapdash. And a poor execution of diverse representation can make your company look even worse than not even trying at all (hello Pepsi and Kendall Jenner).
This enlightened and empowered consumer is partially the result of the meteorological rise of social media over the past several years. This rise has forever re-shaped the relationships between brand and consumer and has increased the burden on companies to prove their commitment to diversity beyond just press releases and public relations efforts. With the immediate feedback loops, and always-on potential for failures that go viral, social media has become one of the primary ways that consumers hold brands to account.
So, what steps can brands – and their senior marketing leadership – take to diversify their marketing material and ensure true representation across their customer base – all while doing it authentically? While your marketing is the most visible touchpoint for the public, it’s critical to ensure that your efforts go deeper than just a marketing campaign – and permeate fully into your company’s operations before they can emanate out into your brand awareness.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)
A recent way that many companies are trying to genuinely instill this into their business is through emerging DE&I (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) initiatives. In short, DE&I involves policies or practices that are intended to make people of various backgrounds feel welcome and supported to perform to the fullest abilities at work. With this focus on internal inclusivity, brands can better hold themselves accountable to their stated ideals of diversity. Because when employees at your brand feel more empowered to be their authentic selves – and draw ideas and inspiration from their unique perspectives and experiences – the more this can move organically through a company and imbue representation into the entire marketing process.
Bringing these internal efforts into the external can be as fundamental as aligning on values as a company and incorporating this into your messaging. This can be a net benefit to both your company culture, your bottom line and how your customers perceive your values and brand identity, because inclusive marketing is a major competitive advantage.
Now that the importance of deeper integration into your company’s DNA has been covered, now we can look at how embracing inclusivity in marketing campaigns can benefit your company’s financials. One example from the United Kingdom that we’d be remiss to not call out is the ‘Superhumans Wanted’ campaign run by Maltesers, which featured people with disabilities and launched during the Paralympic Games. The initiative was very well-received and helped the brand grow by 8% as a direct result. In North America, iconic brands like Marc Jacobs and others have made very well-received efforts to embrace and feature people with skin conditions like vitiligo in their campaigns.
Additionally, with “14% of customers more likely to choose products and services from companies who promote diversity and support LGBT communities within their marketing” it’s clear that showcasing diversity and representation – authentically – is a winning strategy, both culturally and financially.
Doing It Right
To avoid any potential pitfalls as you delve deeper into wider inclusion efforts, there are some key questions you need to address at your company.
- Do you have the right people in key positions at your company? The proper person on your sales team can be the deciding factor in whether you’re able to recruit that Diversity Ambassador that will help you better appeal to your target market and target audience.
- Who can you bring on – whether internally or externally – to help on your behalf with DE&I efforts? No matter how advanced your initiatives are, they can always be improved. Ask a trusted client who does DE&I well if they have any recommendations.
- It sounds simple, but how is diversity and representation communicated on your external website? After seeing some marketing collateral that touts diversity, if a consumer then goes to your website and there’s no mention of it, they might leave and not come back.
As marketers, we have an important role to play in showcasing the fruits of our companies’ labor. And the more that we can broaden the appeal of our products to a wider audience with better marketing representation, the better off our businesses, our consumers and our world will be.
Want to learn more about the importance of DE&I in your marketing efforts? Contact TEAM LEWIS today.