Sep 26 2019 Does Your Marketing Factor In Diversity and Inclusion?
Organizations are hard at work connecting themselves to an ever-diversifying social and cultural audience. Most understand that good intentions are not enough, and the last thing they want to do is to inadvertently offend or alienate a group of people.
by Inga Romanoff, Romanoff Consultants
It falls on brands and marketing management to lead the diversity and inclusion charge—not only when crafting their positioning, messaging, and marketing strategies, but as it relates to overall business practices. The savviest are proactively managing their products, images, and employees to adhere to today’s new rules.
In the past, marketers could learn a lot about their audiences through ZIP code or socioeconomic class segmentation alone. But that doesn’t truly factor in diversity and inclusion. Even next-door neighbors can be polar opposites.
“Giving in to the comforts of similarity means missing out on dynamics that lead to great innovation for a diverse customer base.”
— Malin Liden, Vice President of Marketing at SAP
One of the primary ways to discover and learn what different subsets of consumers think and feel is to drill down into psychographics. Psychographics is the practice of segmenting and studying a sample population by attitudes, values, and lifestyles, as opposed to demographics, which refers to simpler attributes, such as marital status, age, and location.
Most psychographic data useful for brands can come from gathering first-party data in the form of qualitative and quantitative surveys, shopper feedback, focus groups, and in-person interviews. By analyzing psychographic data, an organization can learn what consumers truly care about. Of course, the need for that knowledge is nothing new for marketers, but it has taken on heightened emphasis in lockstep with the increased importance of diversity and inclusion.
The value of both qualitative and quantitative surveys lies in their ability to gather a large sample of people to identify trends, patterns, and insights that can be used to improve a brand’s overall messaging strategy in light of the rapidly changing social and cultural landscape.
Qualitative questions could include:
• What do you think about the XYZ industry?
• What interests you about these products or services?
• What motivates you to try a new brand?
• Do you feel our brand, in particular, is appropriate for all groups of people?
• Do you feel our messaging in this specific advertisement is effective?
Quantitative questions could include:
• How often do you buy these products or services?
• How much do you spend monthly on these products or services?
• How often do you try new brands?
• How many times do you recall seeing our advertising this month?
• On a scale of 1-10, would you say this commercial is effective?
Brands and marketers also can enlist the help of third-party vendors that aggregate data about millions of consumers, and can organize and summarize the data in easily digestible formats. In addition, third-party data vendors can help define a target audience and the cultural and ethnic groups within it.
With diversity and inclusion top of mind, brands also need their own internal checklists of customer-related questions around product launches, message development, and campaign building.
Key questions could include:
• What is important to–and are we being considerate to–all our current and future customers?
• How will we, as a brand, be viewed after deploying this message?
• Can our message be interpreted differently by different audiences?
• What is our customer experience like across all of channels and platforms?
Additionally, there are questions about priorities, resources, and time. How many people/teams have diversity and inclusion on their list of goals/objectives for the year? Is there a specific percentage of time and energy slated for social mobility, diversity, and inclusion?
“It is difficult to touch – truly touch the hearts and minds of your audiences – if your team is not reflective of your audiences and has not walked in their footsteps. Age, sex, race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation (or not), and socio-economic factors are just a few considerations. Teams that are diverse by-design are inevitably quicker to better, inclusive decisions and have far fewer subconscious blind-spots biases that lead to sometimes horrifying mistakes or offenses.”
— Jim D’Arcangelo, CMO at MomentFeed
Tap Talent Who Truly Care
Ideally, the mandate for diversity and inclusion should come from the top. C-suite executives should have diversity and inclusion on their list of objectives, complete with milestones and checkpoints as to how their brands can succeed with different types of consumers.
“Diversity isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s good for business. Diverse teams are more likely to challenge the status quo. They also come up with better ideas and are more likely to implement innovations. We need to hold our leaders and the brands we support accountable to higher standards of diversity and inclusion.”
— Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group
As previously mentioned, brands and marketing management are the ones who will carry out the execution. When building a task force, they should include team members with varying backgrounds in order to leverage their broad experience. According to Consultancy UK, the best firms today are constantly attempting to diversify the areas they recruit talent from to help promote diversity and social mobility.
And according to McKinsey, workplaces that are gender-diverse are 21% more likely to outperform their counterparts, and ethnically diverse environments can outperform by 33%.
If outside help is required, make sure these specialists have firsthand leadership experience working with multicultural and social group.
“Brands should become socially responsible because it’s a core part of their brand, not just to improve the appearance of their brand.”
— Moni Oloyede, Sr. Marketing Operations Manager at Fidelis Cybersecurity
But no matter who ensures a brand’s success, steps must be taken to drive home the concept of diversity and inclusion, and to evangelize that message so it can be heard throughout leadership, employees, and by the customers. To sum up, being intentional about respecting, involving, and growing workers from all cultures is not only ethically sound, but also a critical competitive advantage.