Inclusive Marketing is NOT a Trend

Today’s smart marketers are working hard to make their brands, and their marketing campaigns, more inclusive.  They recognize that people – and therefore consumers – are not all white, model-sized heterosexuals, just as all families are not mom, dad, and two kids.  As we go into the critical fall shopping era leading up to the holidays, we will see more and more campaigns that focus on a wide variety of consumers, including previously ignored segments of the population.

Heidi Zak, CEO of Third Love, a successful intimate apparel brand, explains it this way:  “We believe the future is building a brand for every woman, regardless of her shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. This shouldn’t be seen as groundbreaking; it should be the norm…” she wrote. “And please stop insisting that inclusivity is a trend.”  She credits their popularity and growth to their core mission of building a bra for every woman, regardless of her shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation.

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Consumers are now enthusiastically embracing inclusivity.  Millennials, a key demographic of most marketing campaigns, actively seek out brands that demonstrate inclusivity and diversity in their products, offers, and promotions.  The 2018 Accenture Holiday Shopping survey suggests that as many as 70% or millennials name inclusivity as a key factor in choosing one brand over another.  They want to see products that work for their diverse lifestyles and family groups, and to be able to recognize themselves in the products’ branding.

Many brands are catching on and moving in the direction of inclusivity, but there’s still room for growth, especially when it comes to using more diverse images. In fact, more than 91 percent of U.S. marketers recognize there’s more work to be done. Ra’el Cohen, Chief Creative Officer at ThirdLove, is confident that marketing is moving in the right direction.  She stated, “We’ve seen many brands in our industry and others begin to embrace inclusivity in just the past year, and we anticipate continuing to see the same investment moving forward.  It was very overdue.”

Consider Microsoft’s holiday launch of their Xbox Adaptive Controller.  The controller was designed to make gaming accessible to people with a broad range of disabilities, and was created with input from people with disabilities in its development, design, and marketing-a story they chronicled on their content hub Story Labs.  Their holiday launch was a widely-released commercial called “Reindeer Games”, featuring a young boy with a rare genetic disease playing a video game for the first time, and the group of friends who rushed to his side to share the moment. 

The title of the spot refers to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, who wasn’t allowed to share in reindeer games because of his physical differences.  Kathleen Hall, corporate VP of brand, advertising and research at Microsoft told AdAge,  “The real power and magic of technology is its ability to bring us together and make us better, no matter what our differences.”  In addition to being very moving, the spot was one of the more successful of the 2018 holiday season. 

As you think of your own branding for the upcoming holiday season, here are some ways you can embrace inclusivity:

·       Think beyond your usual target demographics.   You can’t be all things to all people, but you can consider marketing that does not exclude consumers based on age, body type, or abilities.  How can you reach and serve underserved populations?

·       Let your customers inspire you.  Take a cue from the dating site Bumble.  After analyzing their customer base, they launched a campaign of short form videos for Instagram that embrace their diverse users in New York City.  The videos celebrate many different gender identities, socio-economic groups, and lifestyles.

·       Remember that inclusivity is a movement, not a trend.  Marketers cannot just throw a few minorities or non-binary people into a spot as window dressing and hope that consumers will see it as authentic.  Create work that reflects the enormous diversity all around us in the world today.  Speak to their needs.  As Ra’el Cohen puts it, “Consumers have evolved from wanting to be sold an unrealistic dream, and instead, opt to feel like they’re a part of the dream. They want to see themselves in the brands they support, whether that’s in the products offered or models portrayed in marketing.”

Get in touch with us to help you promote your brand this Black Friday and Holiday season.