Diversity Marketing Represents Everyone

January 2021
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The topic of anti-racism reached a zenith in the spring and summer, as peaceful protests took place across the country. The discussion has moved from activist circles to spirited conversations among friends and in the workplace, where leaders are having frank dialogues and taking action on their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 

Businesses and communications agencies continue to grapple with ways to address diversity, especially when it comes to outward expressions of their brands and missions. As communicators, how can we help our agencies, clients and businesses market their products and with messages that show their support without appearing to exploit the national conversation to their advantage?

Brands can demonstrate their sincerity through strategic diversity marketing that addresses different cultures — be they ethnic, religious, etc. — and uses a wide range of voices in ads and other marketing materials to represent those cultures. 

Yes, “diversity” has become a buzzword, but diversity marketing represents the population at large. No matter what product or service a company sells, it’s unlikely that one homogenous group will be its target market. 

Appealing to consumers

Diversity marketing also goes beyond preconceived standards of beauty, success, family, etc. For example, agencies that represent skincare or cosmetic brands might hire models with acne or acne scars, and with different kinds of pigmentation and skin tones — in other words, models who look like the people who purchase those products. It makes no sense to sell to the everyday person and only hire statuesque, lean, symmetrically faced models.

Food-subscription services might create advertisements and social media posts that show different kinds of families, couples and people enjoying their food. When brands share client stories, they can be those of people who aren’t often seen in marketing. 

Looking inward

Diversity, inclusion and advocacy might seem like the marketing world’s focus du jour, but diversity is not a fleeting trend. Brands that believe in the message won’t just hire plus-size models or those of color to fulfill diversity quotas. They will do so because they value those people and want to include them in their marketing initiatives.

Diversity marketing also starts by looking inward. Agencies and businesses might ask themselves whether they hire a wide breadth of employees — such as publicists, SEO specialists and directors who have different perspectives. They might also consider whether their clients all come from similar backgrounds.

Marketing might be about selling a fantasy, but it’s easier when everyone can see themselves represented in ads and other marketing materials. If people don’t see themselves reflected in a brand’s marketing, then they’re unlikely to purchase its products or listen to its executives as thought leaders. 

Return to Current Issue Looking Ahead to a New Year | January 2021
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