Have you noticed a trend towards greater diversity in marketing and advertising campaigns in recent years?

Gone are the days where women’s brands exclusively feature the traditional supermodel as their only representation. We are now more likely to see women of all shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds represented in marketing campaigns. The same can be said across the board for various brands who are hoping to appeal to specific (or general) target markets.

The increase you see in diversity in marketing isn’t just because it’s the way it should be. It’s also because more and more consumers are opting to support brands who value inclusivity and diversity over those who don’t. In the same way that 71% of consumers say poor environmental policies are a deal breaker for them, 38% of consumers reported they were more likely to trust a brand that showed more diversity in their marketing and advertising.

This consumer push for diversity is also why we’re seeing more big brands come forward with apologies when their marketing or advertising campaigns don’t quite hit the mark. In the age of social media backlash, there is nowhere for brands who don’t get it right to hide. Realising that not being on point with these topical issues will be detrimental to their business, brands are having to be clearer about their policies and acknowledge mistakes when they occur.

What does this mean for your brand?

It’s clearly important for any brand to be mindful of inclusivity and diversity when approaching marketing and advertising. That said, the level of importance will vary depending on the type of product or service you are offering and to which part of the marketplace.

At its essence, diversity in marketing is being driven by the fact that your audience wants to feel represented and understood. They want to have a voice and are increasingly refusing to be told what they should or shouldn’t want from people who don’t accurately reflect their challenges and experiences. Women, for example, don’t want to be sold menstrual products from a bunch of men who don’t understand what it’s really like to have a monthly cycle. Those with ethnic backgrounds want greater representation—and less stereotypical representation—in marketing and advertising campaigns because they have been unnecessarily marginalised for too long.

All of this is just to say, consider inclusivity and diversity in your marketing and advertising campaigns. Or don’t, at your peril.

Diversity in marketing: the challenges

If you’re creating and building your own marketing campaign from scratch, inclusivity and diversity is much easier. On the other hand, if you’re relying on stock photos, you will likely find it more challenging. Sometimes a business can be constrained by what’s available on the market and what they have access to. This is slowly changing, however, it’s presently still a hold up on marketing campaigns being more inclusive. Unfortunately, there’s no real solution for this. One suggestion is you are clear with your design team that diversity is important to your brand. Ask them to search far and wide to reflect this with appropriate images. If diversity is vital to your marketing campaigns, it might be best to spend a little more and get your own imagery that best reflects this.

Ways to increase your marketing diversity and inclusivity

Besides the above suggestion of commissioning your own shoots, there are a couple of other ways to ensure your marketing and advertising campaigns are inclusivity and diversity focused.

      1. Seek out alternative points of view, especially those specific to your audience
        You don’t have to be part of the intended audience in order to effectively work on a brand. However, you will do well to ensure you have a deep and intimate understanding of your customer’s voice and experience by consulting people who are. You may like to include people in your team who represent your audience. Or, you may like to consult a few different people who can provide this understanding for you. Either is a great way to increase diversity and inclusivity in your marketing.
      2. Immerse yourself in the world of your audience
        They say the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in a culture that speaks that language daily. In the same way, immersing yourself in the world of your audience is going to give you a much better idea of the challenges that they experience and how your product or service can truly assist them. You need to take a deep dive to appreciate the nuances so that you can develop the level of empathy required to accurately represent their voice in your marketing campaigns.