There is no question that our world has changed dramatically over the past year.
The pandemic, political climate, and social justice movements have each impacted how we do business. Many companies, including our own, are looking for ways to be more inclusive in their marketing efforts to recognize these changes. Inclusive marketing is the practice of applying diversity to your marketing campaigns by including relatable stores and people from various backgrounds. Diversity and inclusion are not the same things. Diversity is what makes someone unique, inclusion allows them to feel valued and embraced as part of a larger community for their diversity. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get started down the path to being more inclusive in your marketing strategy.
Does your marketing reflect your customer base?
Who are your customers? Are they young or old? Married or single? Middle class? Could they be living in a mixed-race or same-sex household? The United States is diversifying faster than had been initially predicted. According to the Brookings Institute, 48% of Generation Z are non-Caucasian, and a recent Gallup poll estimates that 5.6% of Americans identify as LGBT. Bearing this in mind, when you look at the demographics of your customers in comparison to your marketing messaging and images, do you see your customers reflected there? If you're unsure of who your customers are or lack the data you require to make these decisions, conduct a customer survey and incentivize participants with a gift card or coupon.
What do your current and prospective customers care about?
A little bit of empathy goes a long way. Be respectful and considerate. It is appropriate to communicate a brief message of support around significant cultural holidays, but be prepared for negative comments no matter how innocuous. Consider celebrating a broader slice of society – Black History Month, Women's History Month, Earth Day, and your specific industry's significant milestones.
Do your words ring hollow?
Authenticity in marketing should not be used as a gimmick. Tell your customers who you are, what you stand for, and what you support. Your communication should be honest, steady, and considerate. Don’t just say you’ll support a cause – follow it up with consistent messaging and actions. Show your audience that you mean business because if you don’t, they will call you out.
Does it pass the "sniff test"?
In the past year, several brands have realized that they were operating in poor taste. The Washington Football Team (formerly the Redskins) and Pearl Milling Company (formerly Aunt Jemima), to name a few. Whether it is your brand identity or a unique message that rings hollow, it's important to remember that not everyone will perceive your marketing in the same way.
Take, for instance, Aldi's Poorest Day campaign in 2020. The discount grocer challenged a social media influencer to feed her family of four on a meager $33 weekly budget and share her creative shopping and cooking highlights with the world via #poorestdaychallenge. Comments immediately poured in, claiming it was tone-deaf and insulting to working families who struggled with food insecurity.
Before launching a campaign, apply the "sniff test" to make sure it passes.
· Does the imagery include a mix of people that reflects your customer base?
· Could any of the words or language used be considered offensive or harmful?
· How will our brand be viewed after this campaign is sent?
· Could this message possibly be interpreted differently by your audience's demographics?
· Utilize an internal focus group with perspectives of several different people from different areas of your business to see if it raises any red flags.
To give your brand a broader perspective of inclusivity, the team at Bubble & Hatch is here to help with strategy, design and copywriting.