Companies who want to ensure that their products and services – not just their workplaces – are inclusive, need to ensure that diversity is embedded in everything that they do.
A seismic shift in the demand to see real people and their lives portrayed in the media has seen stereotypes around ethnicity, gender and beauty shattered to create a far more vivid and realistic landscape.
Kantar’s Purpose 2020 report  found that brands with gender-balanced marketing are worth £774 billion more than those without. Arguably the most successful beauty launch of the 2010s, Fenty Beauty stormed onto the shelves with assumed inclusivity for all. Fast fashion brands such as H&M now feature models of all ages, unheard of less than ten years ago.
Traditionally, diversity programmes are often managed by HR and relate primarily to the employee experience. An inclusive internal culture will create confidence and make innovation possible but reflecting this in your external output requires commitment at every level and in every department to keep evaluating how to do things better. Rather than an isolated project or a new programme requiring a dedicated budget and team, it should be part of everything a company does.
Inclusive marketing takes this move to real equality a step further by looking for an area where exclusion exists and addressing this by focusing on a common emotion or value that everyone can relate to. When hiring, look for individuals who have worked across departments on diversity projects.
Genuinely inclusive marketing is created when three elements are combined:
1. A product designed to be totally inclusive
2. Audiences outside the mainstream are communicated to with targeted, authentic content
3. Researched and refined campaign activities that elevate diverse voices and experiences
How to achieve this? Get as close to marginalised and under-represented audiences as possible. Develop empathy by understanding how they may find themselves excluded from experiences and how information channels might fail to reach them. Also, consider intersectionality – a person may encompass several cultural identities and backgrounds and consider how we are all influenced by the traditions and nuances of our upbringing.
This empathy and understanding should be used in developing new products and should change the way your business communicates about them. Look for candidates experienced in reaching out to audiences about products they aren’t familiar with.
Brands must stop waiting to observe competitor approaches and rolling out the same campaign in different territories. Pay attention to the ways in which younger generations connect with brands and adopt these methods sooner rather than later. Observe how consumers in marketplaces across the world behave. In recognising that these same consumers are part of our own markets, bring relevance for them in local mainstream marketing by recognising that they are equal. Everything is global and every customer is relevant.
Consumers will interact with, and spend money with, brands who genuinely understand them and who they believe offer products and services that will make their life better. Perhaps most importantly, brand values must align with a customer’s personal beliefs, and brands must uphold these values with their actions and behaviour.
The key to inclusive marketing is recognising a need for improvement; understand why campaigns have previously had little reach, and especially, who they failed. Ask candidates why their campaigns worked and how this could be expanded to customers beyond the mainstream. This insight offers a valuable starting point for your brand as we enter the next chapter.
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