Diversity marketing and inclusion are hot topics right now, but most companies are not sure how to make it work for them.
Studies show that diverse teams have better outcomes and more profitable organizations. However, diversity can be hard to implement in the workplace and often leads to lousy press when done wrong.
Diversity marketing is an approach that focuses on the inclusion of all customers or potential customers regardless of their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other factor unrelated to their ability to buy your product. The purpose of this article is to help you understand what diversity marketing means so you can develop a strategy for implementing it at your company.
According to research by Deloitte, we have one of the most generations in history, which means marketers need to look at new ways to reach their audience as traditional campaigns can no longer work as effectively.
Because as much as 70% of them claim they would choose a brand based on inclusion and diversity as seen in their promotions and offers over a similar brand.
This post covers everything from defining diversity and creating an inclusive culture to developing effective campaigns using social media and advertising channels with examples from successful businesses that have successfully implemented these strategies.
What is diversity marketing?
Diversity marketing is a means by which companies market and engage with distinct segments within their target market by recognizing the diverse elements that make up each of those segments.
Diversity marketing (inclusive marketing, inclusion marketing, or in-culture marketing) recognizes that your customers can come from various cultural backgrounds have varying values, experiences, expectations, and modes of interaction. Such distinctions will be seen amongst different subgroups within a culture, including race, age, gender, career, religion, family size, physical surroundings, and other factors.
The first step towards diversity marketing is recognizing that marketing and advertising must offer alternate means of communicating to these varied groups. With this knowledge, diversity marketers want to create a mix of different communication strategies to reach people from each market’s distinct groups.
Diversity marketing definition
Simply put, it is a type of marketing strategy that recognizes the differences in a target market of the subgroups that exist and then uses alternative messaging and ways of communicating to reach them.
What is the impact of diversity and inclusion in marketing?
Bringing diversity and inclusion marketing into your strategies allows for the elevation of diverse voices and role models, which help decrease cultural bias and potentially help with positive social change through thoughtful and respectful content like the Dove commercials like the one below.
The ad above is a form of genuinely inclusive marketing that can elevate stories and voices that are typically marginalized or underrepresented.
The implication of diversity in content marketing and communications
Ann Gynn via @cmicontent says – Truly diverse and inclusive content – the kind that resonates consciously and subconsciously with your audience – requires far more than an image. It requires thinking more deeply, from your audience research to your team structure, style guide, and user experience.
How is diversity marketing different from other forms of marketing?
Today there are many channels to reach your audience, including digital channels like email marketing, influencer marketing, and affiliate marketing. Traditional marketing means such as print and television advertising, direct mail, and telemarketing are also still used.
Diversity marketing is more of an umbrella term that refers to the intent and motivation of a message instead of the means of delivery.
Why is diversity important in marketing?
Research by McKinsey demonstrates that brands with a more diverse staff outperform those that don’t. Firms in the top quartile for gender, racial, and cultural diversity are 35% more likely to make a profit than their national industry medians.
While companies and their marketing strategies should embrace diversity for reasons other than ROI, organizations with a diverse staff generate more innovative ideas, genuine customer involvement, and more significant financial gains. As a result, a firm may make stronger ties with their customers and create a palpable brand feeling.
For what kinds of customers are diversity marketing effective?
Your competitive advantage can lie in customer familiarity, which also assists marketers who are not part of the target audience for their business.
Therefore, brand teams now need a cultural understanding of those they are trying to reach.
Adobe polled almost 2,000 customers in 2019. According to their findings:
- 66% of African-Americans and 53% of Latino/Hispanic Americans believe commercials depict their ethnicity stereotypically.
- 61 percent of Americans value diversity in advertising
- Thirty-eight percent of customers trust firms that promote diversity in their marketing.
So the takeaway is that customers like diversity, inclusion, and belonging, especially if they or someone in their network is part of a varied group.
Ads with stereotypes, superficiality, tone-deafness and cultural insensitivity are typical. Yet, many corporations have recently apologized for commercials that “missed the mark” or “didn’t properly reflect their values” and commitment to diversity.
These blunders all point to a crucial capability lacking in the ad teams: client intimacy.
When you know your consumers as you know your significant other, closest friend, or family member, you will know when something is okay and when it will offend.
Customer closeness costs effort and money. However, more trust, loyalty, and influence are the benefits. Also, fewer “I’m sorry’s” and wasted money on commercials and campaigns that fail or need to be withdrawn due to criticism.
Customer intimacy also gives you a stronger voice and more bravery to speak up when you see a piece of marketing that you know will not resonate with your customers.
How to develop an empathetic yet diversity innclusive marketing strategy
1. Recognize that diversity marketing is an ongoing process.
2. Put in the work of understanding inclusivity.
3. Listen to your customers.
4. Have a diverse marketing team.
5. Prioritize data.
What’s included in a good diversity marketing effort?
A diversity marketing campaign may and should include a range of communications channels, including the ones listed above. What distinguishes it from other tactics is that the exact messaging is tailored to the target group and given through their preferred communication channels.
Diversity marketing must be data-driven, honest, and culturally sensitive. If it isn’t, the message may fall flat.
That’s what happened to Dolce & Gabbana, a worldwide fashion company that harmed its brand with a social media video campaign geared at the Chinese market.
An Asian model in the video is eating Italian food with chopsticks, with varying degrees of success. The films, shared on the Chinese social media network Weibo, sparked significant controversy since they appeared to portray Chinese people as uneducated and inferior.
In that scenario, the corporation chose the appropriate messaging platform, Weibo, which covers about a quarter of China’s 1.3 billion people. However, the message was inauthentic, ill-conceived, and culturally inappropriate.
That is the primary problem of diversity marketing. When done correctly, it may assist a brand in communicating with its target audience in a way that seems comfortable and, as a result, successful. However, when done incorrectly, it might have disastrous consequences.
Strategies to develop effective diversity marketing campaigns
As with other forms of marketing, there is no one correct way. Diversity marketing requires an understanding of your audience. It also needs an approach that can grow organically through the use of a variety of methods, including:
1. Embrace diversity in your creative team
A natural assumption for effective and authentic messaging is that your creative team should reflect the audience you are trying to reach. That is important, but so is having the right culture – being observant, asking questions, and challenging assumptions.
To this end, embracing diversity in hiring practices while building your marketing team is critical to have the right cultural fit.
Key to building diversity in the workplace is a team that includes the backgrounds, beliefs, and an empathetic understanding of the values of those you are trying to reach.
2. Make data-informed decisions
One of the most significant things a marketer can do to establish a successful diversity marketing plan is to thoroughly understand the segment to promote their products or services.
This can only be accomplished by collecting as much data as possible and employing current data analytics tools to derive valuable insights from that data. Then, use various strategies to obtain the most accurate picture possible and never dismiss the information provided by the data.
In the case of Dolce & Gabbana, a simple focus group test may have averted the disastrous Chinese campaign, and complete market research could have shown a more effective strategy.
Tip: Today, there is no shortage of marketing technology (also known as Martech) that helps automate and provide data insights that can be used to inform diversity marketing initiatives, and it pays to make use of them.
3. Avoid plugging square holes with round plugs
It’s not unusual to see companies attempting to adapt their existing brand message to each target segment they want to reach in their diversity marketing. But unfortunately, that kind of approach invariably fails in most instances.
As Andrew Deutsch, founder of the Fangled Group, says – the messaging should be unique for each segment and address their specific needs and desires to forge deeper connections with the brand.
4. Understand the language of marketing and multicultural diversity
In creating a diversity and inclusion marketing campaign, your messaging needs to be spot on, which means you need to know the audience, you wish to address while at the same time not excluding others.
How language is used can have unintended consequences of creating barriers or bias, as we have seen in an example in this post.
To this end, we need to be sure to use diversity in marketing and advertising themes, actions, and language to address your target segment and be welcoming to others as well. While this can seem complex, developing a diversity statement to guide your efforts would help in ensuring all stakeholders understands what needs to be done.
5. Let customers have a voice
Marketing in an age of diversity requires that we recognize the voices of cultural diversity in marketing and provide our customers and those we wish to work with a platform to share their voices.
What does this look like?
- Mapping out customer journeys and experiences
- Listening to customers’ points of view and feedback during and after executing campaigns and delivering services and products.
- Empower customers to create content that provides an honest reflection of what your brand means to them.
This doesn’t just help with messaging that resonates better with those you are targeting and provides insights and data to inform future campaigns.
Examples of diversity marketing done right
Now that you understand how vital it is to include diversity and multiculturalism in your marketing plan, you’ll need to look at creating one. Creating such a plan is not easy to design, especially one that works successfully. Here are a few examples of diversity in marketing from companies that got it right to put it all into perspective.
Adobe: When I see Black
Adobe recognized the Black community during Black History Month in 2020 by commemorating Black creativity past, present, and future.
Adobe has long prided itself on being the creator’s tool and knows that creativity can connect, inspire, and drive positive change.
This advertisement focuses on the future generation of Black creators and their perceptions of themselves.
“When I See Black” is a film narrated through the eyes and words of 12 Black creators set to Gregory Porter’s track “Revival.” They discuss how their work is redefining what it means to be Black and what it means to produce Black art. The film was created as part of Adobe’s new strategic editorial relationship with Vanity Fair, promoting perspectives from marginalized communities.
Phillips: Wellingtons put the Wellness in WFH
COVID-19 had effectively trapped us in our houses for most of 2020, regardless of where we were in the globe.
Phillips (in collaboration with TBS) tells the tale of the Wellingtons, a family of four dealing with being confined and working from home in this ad.
The brand brilliantly demonstrates how several of its household items (such as an espresso machine and a nightlight) contributed to the Wellingtons’ day-to-day being more enjoyable and easy. They emphasize right away that this family is “exactly like yours.” Their problems are understandable and universal.
It’s an afterthought that the family consists of two fathers and two young children from ethnic backgrounds.
HP: Reinvent Mindsets
HP’s Reinvent Mindsets program focuses on the unconscious prejudice in today’s employment climate to broaden and grow the talent pool. Their message was straightforward. HP employs only based on a person’s talent.
‘Let’s Get In Touch,’ ‘Dads and Daughters,’ ‘Proud Portraits,’ and ‘Latino Jobs’ are four commercial pieces from HP’s ‘Reinvent Mindsets’ campaign aimed at African Americans and women, the LGBTQ community, and Latinos. Furthermore, the program contributed to increased female and minority recruits and promotions at HP.
Coca-Cola: America is Beautiful
Coca-Cola’s pre-Super Bowl multicultural advertising campaign is a fantastic example of diversity marketing appropriately done. To depict the changing face of America, it contains a culturally and ethnically diverse ensemble performing a multi-language rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
The commercial began with pictures of several locations in America — the Pacific Ocean, Chinatown in New York City, and the Utah plateaus – evoking a nostalgic tone as it portrayed a picture of varied communities from around the country. In the backdrop, many voices sing “America the Beautiful” in various languages. Following the Super Bowl, the ad quickly became the top trending topic on Facebook and sparked a discussion on the changing face of America and how the brand represented a cultural touchstone shared by everybody.
TE Connectivity: #YouBelongHere
TE Connectivity’s #YouBelongHere ad included its employees. The goal was to demonstrate TE employees worldwide displaying their authentic selves based on their various backgrounds and experiences. In addition, TE Connectivity created long-form movies and created custom hashtags such as #YouBelongHere and #LifeatTE, all aiming to increase reach via digital marketing.
The results – Over one million impressions were generated across social networks, with a total organic reach of 406,976.
Over one million impressions were generated across social networks, with a total organic reach of 406,976.
Accenture: Inclusion starts with I
Accenture’s Joe Taiano demonstrated an excellent video campaign called #InclusionStartsWithI at Ignite USA, including a group of Accenture colleagues addressing workplace stigmas and preconceptions. In addition, the film depicts how bias may manifest itself in surprising ways for people of different backgrounds.
Google: The Picture Perfect Life
Lorraine Twohill stated in a ThinkWithGoogle piece that the tech giant analyzed its advertising’ diversity levels and quality in its campaigns. The project allowed a task force to examine race, gender, and socioeconomic diversity with the help of machine learning and Geena Davis Institute experts.
“Our photos were racially diverse. But everyone looked techy and lived in trendy urban areas, “Twohill commented.
Twohill also highlighted that Google needs to improve its gender representation.
Google established a diversity training course to address misrepresenting or underrepresenting diverse ethnicities. Twohill says 90% of her employees and 200 agency partners have completed the training.
As a response, Google began launching more provocative commercials, such as “The Picture-Perfect Life,” a Pixel 2 commercial that features authentic images of Google Pixel users from various backgrounds while simultaneously addressing mental illness.
The commercial generated a lot of online conversation and engagement. In addition to substantial internet conversation, it has been covered by AdWeek and The Washington Post since it premiered during the Grammy Awards in 2018.
The future of marketing
Diversity marketing will become a crucial strategy for marketers and companies.
Diversity marketing aims to create a connection with customers by understanding their unique needs and wants. Inclusion is another critical component of diversity marketing. From top executives to customer service representatives, everyone in the company understands the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
There are several reasons why diversity and inclusion are essential in marketing. First, minority groups have purchasing power often overlooked by major brands. Second, when companies focus on diversity and inclusion, they attract a more comprehensive range of employees, making their businesses more innovative and effective. Finally, diverse campaigns can be more relatable to specific customers,
It is our role as marketers to link brands to individuals via culture. For a long time, our industry’s concept of culture was narrow, and we didn’t always do an excellent job of incorporating everyone who fit inside it. What we term diversity or inclusive marketing is just a concentrated effort to observe, listen, and learn to rectify our perceptions of cultures and then take the required action.
Without a diversity and inclusion marketing plan, it will be hard to interact with consumers in ways that will drive them to become loyal customers and brand ambassadors in the future.
Now is the time to make diversity marketing a focal point of future planning and use some of the methods discussed here to help the endeavor. It’s a good undertaking for any brand and one that will pay off in the long run.