In recent years, workplace diversity and inclusion (D&I) has become a popular topic. Inclusive marketing is more than simply a passing fad.
Brands that value diversity includes, to name a few, a diverse range of races, genders, orientations, and abilities in their advertising, content, and hiring procedures.
Consumers hold businesses more accountable than ever before for significant marketing initiatives that spotlight diverse voices and faces.
This week on Let’s Talk, we explore what inclusive marketing is and how it can help brands connect with consumers more effectively, and why it is critical to discuss this in 2022 and beyond.
Sally McKibbin, Career Coach, Indeed
“The visibility of minority groups in marketing plays an important role in inclusion and belonging. People feel aligned with brands that reflect the reality of the world we live in, and when people feel represented in marketing campaigns, a bond is built between the brand and the customer. While this bond is beneficial for a brand’s reputation and potentially sales, it also supports a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
“Employees want to feel a sense of belonging at work. In fact, Indeed’s recent survey on D&I in Australia found 84 per cent of people say that when looking for a new job, it’s important that the organisation promotes D&I for all staff. If people can see authentic representation of minority groups through a business’s marketing, they may be more likely to apply for a role at the organisation. Inclusive marketing shows potential candidates that an employer is committed to promoting diversity and to creating that a workplace truly cares about inclusion.”
Kate Rourke, Head of Creative Insights Asia Pacific, Getty Images & iStock
“A picture is worth a thousand words, particularly when challenging stereotypes and increasing the participation of marginalised groups. Only 10 per cent of ANZ consumers say they see a lot of diversity in companies they do business with.
“However, we know that brands don’t consciously set out to perpetuate stereotypes and want to be inclusive in their visual selections. When thinking about inclusive marketing, it’s important to understand how to incorporate authentic and multifaceted depictions of people in advertising, marketing and creative assets globally, while also identifying our unconscious biases.
“Getty Images VisualGPS research tells us that over 80 per cent of ANZ consumers expect businesses to be consistently committed to supporting diversity and inclusion efforts. The majority (79 per cent) of ANZ consumers want brands to do a better job at capturing people’s lifestyles and cultures authentically.
“For brands, this means moving beyond a superficial message and instead showcasing the true intersectionality of experiences and perspectives that are drawn from the audiences they are targeting.
“When consumers see themselves represented in brand and marketing visuals, they feel seen, understood and valued – which in turn leads to deeper brand affinity. Don’t take our word for it – 68 per cent of ANZ consumers said it was important that companies they buy from celebrate diversity of all kinds.”
Anshu Arora, Director of Marketing and Student Acquisition, RMIT Online
“Customers now expect companies and brands to be involved in social debates and reflect their societies’ complexity and diversity. As a result, inclusive marketing has become critical, and companies that ignore it risk consumers.
“Inclusive marketing connects brands with communities, it is reflected in the tone and language, the talent a brand uses, its diversity and inclusivity, and how it engages with customers.
“Whilst these are all important, to truly connect with your audience, it’s vital to ensure that every part of this process is thoughtful, relatable, and overall authentic.
“Most importantly, the power of inclusive marketing doesn’t emanate from the brand’s communication. It comes from the company living its values in practice and doing what it shows externally inside the business.
“Not only will this help businesses create inclusive and well-rounded campaigns, but internal diversity and inclusion will also help the companies thrive.”
Natalie Waddell, APAC Marketing Manager, _nology
“Inclusive messaging in marketing is not about keeping up with woke trends. It’s about ensuring a brand’s influence truly resonates with real groups of people.
“Marketing’s core power is being able to reach people who don’t know what they want yet, or what they think they’re suitable for. It has the power to shift long-held perceptions. Tick box marketing tactics that appear to be inclusive can easily fall into either the painfully boring, the awkwardly rigid, and even the quick-gimmick-to-hurry-up-and-look-progressive buckets. Instead, a better approach is a strategic marketing shift where inclusivity becomes part of building long-term brand equity.
“When marketing to potential candidates for our tech training hub, we know that in the tech space, 60 per cent of women & underrepresented groups talk themselves out of applying to a job ad at first glance. It’s a classic example of how inclusive marketing can work to shift such a critical problem, particularly in a sector where the stereotypes for ‘suitable’ candidates shut out way too many with great potential. Using language that is more inclusive is a simple switch, and one that _nology uses to actively encourage a wider tech talent pool.
“The world is full of creative minds, ready-buyers, brilliant thinkers, regardless of their background. Unless brands target them too, it’s a sorely missed opportunity.”
Chadwick Kinlay, Chief Marketing Officer, TrafficGuard
“Inclusive marketing is by no means a new concept. In fact, it really speaks to the fundamentals of market segmentation. So, it requires segmentation and that nuance, which accounts for a wider array of customers. Marketing has always been about delivering value to the customers, but brands need to align and truly believe their customers’ diverse value systems too. The data proves that: Microsoft found that 50 per cent of consumers stated that they stopped purchasing from brands that do not reflect the same value as them.
“But to truly win their loyalty, marketing needs to not only acknowledge the diversity, but go beyond and personalise that diversity too – that’s the key to driving the inclusivity on every touchpoint. Adobe themselves found that 38 per cent of consumers were more trusting of ads that feature diversity. At its core, marketing has always been about people. Therefore when targeting business, we cannot forget that those businesses are run by people as well.”
Tim Glomb, VP Content and Data, Cheetah Digital
“Marketers have immense power over the content and messages that are consumed by many the world over on a daily basis. With that power comes responsibility; the responsibility to elevate the stories and voices of those marginalised and underrepresented within our communities. And it takes more than ‘ticking the diversity box’ on a campaign to be achieved. It takes building relationships.
“Truly inclusive marketing requires you to understand the consumer. Switching to a strategy that actually builds meaningful relationships directly with consumers, and thus drives engagement and revenue, is easier said than done. But consumers are clear that they expect it.
“Data shows that 74 per cent of global consumers have a favourite brand because it treats them as individuals. What’s more, the desire to be recognised as an individual rose 110 per cent year-over-year according to the Cheetah Digital 2022 Consumer Trends Index.
“Relationship marketing is about listening and providing value that goes beyond the transaction. The technology marketers need to start listening at scale and deeply understand their diverse audiences exists now, and it will allow them to deliver a truly personalised experience across all marketing channels.”
James Campbell, Regional Manager ANZ, SnapLogic
“The power of inclusive marketing lies in sparking unity, creating content that consumers across the globe can picture themselves in. It’s about answering the questions that everyone has while making underrepresented groups feel not only welcome by brands but understood too.
“Marketing teams that engage a diverse array of prospects in a meaningful way can expand the reach of their product offering. Personalised content and offers that meet your prospects’ specific use cases will likely draw their attention and improve conversion rates from prospect to customer through enriched nurture programs.
“Working from an unbiased, single source of truth through enterprise automation provides richer, real-time insights on customer behaviour, matches new leads to existing accounts, provides holistic and real-time view of marketing spend across channels and more.
“As a result, these teams can enrich and improve lead quality, route leads to the right salesperson and enable effective pipeline management through contact and opportunity management and a 360-degree view of your prospect contacts.”
Jason du Preez, SVP APAC, SugarCRM
“At the heart of inclusivity is the act of practising empathy – building genuine human connection and trust. When brands demonstrate empathy and understand their customers’ pain points, struggles and what creates joy and is meaningful for them, they become more relatable to the customer.
“Inclusive marketing goes beyond just focusing on customers and prospects and must also include internal stakeholders and impact the company culture. Leadership teams need to think about diversity, equity, inclusivity (DEI) in their workplace. How employees feel towards the brand has a strong impact on the external perception of the brand.
“It means recognising that we are communicating to real human beings and appreciating that everyone thinks and is motivated differently. What matters to one person, differs from another. With empathy and inclusivity, brands are constantly listening and learning and tailoring their marketing messages to suit different audiences. It must come from a place of genuine care about people – humans are adept at smelling inauthenticity a mile away.”
Kristyn Wallace, Vice President APJ, Emarsys
“The key to inclusive marketing starts with a diverse workforce. It is important to empower people from all walks of life on your teams to nurture, grow and lead the development of your campaigns. Not only does this boost employee engagement, but it is one of the best ways to avoid unconscious bias and adapt to the demands of consumers.
“Brands should always be listening to their customers, and asking for feedback. The future is Gen Z (and beyond), and they have made it apparent that inclusivity is a must. Brands like Rhianna’s Savage x Fenty are great examples of the power that inclusive marketing can have on consumers. The brand’s marketing campaigns are driven by representation and amplified through a holistic approach with their digital, social and ecommerce sites. Through their approach to inclusivity, and talking to their customers in various channels, they can speak to their audience in a way that is meaningful to them. As a result, their marketing campaigns can deliver the personal, emotional connection that consumers are after, and breed the loyalty that every brand seeks.
“To replicate the success of brands like this, it comes down to allowing everyone at the table to have a voice. If we listen to our customer, and we listen to each other, new perspectives can be identified and expanded to create an inclusive and powerful marketing campaign that catches all consumer eyes.”
Lisl Pietersz, Communications consultant and coach, University of Sydney
“Ideally, organisations take an inside-out approach to inclusive marketing. Your internal customers, or employees, are your best asset and if they do not feel heard, respected, or appreciated for their uniqueness they will go elsewhere. Leaders need to cultivate an inclusive culture, including practices and policies that embrace our unique human diversity, and empower employees to act accordingly. Your inclusive marketing efforts must be supported by effective internal communications activity that informs, educates, and engages employees so they feel welcome, supported, and free to be themselves at work. As a starting point, check the following questions to help make your workplace more inclusive. Have you reviewed your company messaging and content? Does your workplace communication, comprising the wording, tone, as well as images and stories shared, reflect your organisation’s diversity? Do meetings encourage people to speak up and are diverse views heard and respected? Does this happen in both face-to-face and online meetings? Do your team and company-wide events have diverse appeal and enable people to be themselves? Finally, seek ongoing employee feedback which can be as simple as testing your messaging prior to release to ensure you are connecting meaningfully with diverse audiences.”
Jessica Hatzis-Walker, Co-Founder and CEO, Willow & Blake – Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Frank Body
“There’s one thing every great brand has in common: community. To build a loyal community people need to feel intrigued and included by a brand. That doesn’t mean you need to not stand for anything in order to appeal to everyone, it means you need to welcome discourse, learnings and feedback. To be truly inclusive is not to just tick the boxes of gender, racial, able and sexual inclusivity, it’s to listen to what these communities tell you about the world and your brand; and to respond to that and grow from it. Having concrete brand values and a very considered tone of voice is the absolute number 1 priority for brands who are invested in doing inclusive marketing properly, it’s the foundation for everything you have to say. If you don’t have those things in place, your efforts will feel performative and inconsistent. With truly great brands, their communities adopt their tone of voice, creating a beautiful circular economy of content and feedback. Work with branding specialists who can help you do this properly and can create guideline documents for your team to use moving forward. It’s not a cost, it’s an investment.”
Tasneem Ali, General Manager ANZ Media, Pure.amplify
“It’s no secret that the diverse array of platforms available today – linear television, streaming platforms and social media channels – have caused audience fragmentation. This is actually to the brand’s advantage: more platforms means more specific, inclusive contexts through which you can reach audiences.
“Here’s two things brands can do:
- Be open to various types of platforms (e.g. BVOD and social media) and various platforms of one type (e.g. TikTok and Instagram), as the same audience can respond differently to messages from platform to platform.
- Cap ad-repetition and change up ad creative to avoid ad fatigue and annoyance when ads are displayed across platforms.
“Advertising in this manner results in much higher engagement, sentiment and brand recall; making for more effective campaigns with less audience reach wastage.”
Psyche Castillon, Marketing Team Lead, Parkes BPO Solutions
“Using new tools and technology, brands have a bigger opportunity to tap new markets and create marketing campaigns sensitive to the needs of a wide range of end-users. For example, using the text-to-speech software, written marketing materials can now also be read by those who are blind or have difficulty seeing or reading texts. Tiktok and social media platforms also allow almost anyone, without bias, to participate in marketing campaigns.
“It is only up to the brands to use these tools and platforms responsibly to reach a wider community. Brands should also always remember that inclusive marketing is not only about reaching more people but also about impacting more people in a positive way.”
Yasinta Widjojo, Head Growth and Marketing, Pin Payments
“Inclusive marketing is not a gimmick or box ticking exercise and should not be treated as such. It’s self-evident and offensive when you see tokenism in campaigns. With half of Australia born from migrant families, as shown in the recent census, society’s expectations regarding representation have changed. Not acknowledging Australia’s unique diversity in your marketing could be damaging for your brand, as inclusive campaigns create genuine connections with customers, peers and your network. No one wants to see branding which looks like a stock image anymore, it’s time for inclusive marketing to become the norm rather than a discussion point.”
Dan Peters, Managing Director, Clearco Australia
“Clearco is the largest e-commerce investor in the world so we have deep insights into what makes an ecommerce brand successful or not. Our decision to extend funding is driven by AI and data insights alone (so it’s pure numbers). However, once they are on onboard we can see a clear correlation between those who embrace inclusive marketing and performance.
“For all businesses, but particularly SME brands who often forge highly personal relationships with their customers, it’s imperative to be authentic in all inclusive marketing executions. Business is all about belonging and consumers are quick to sniff out inauthentic behavior that can be viewed as ‘box-ticking’.
“Inclusive marketing is particularly important for Australian brands who seek to expand their operations globally and it’s difficult to ‘tack’ this onto marketing efforts after the event. It’s no surprise that some of our most successful founders (for example knitwear brand McIntyre) who are now expanding into overseas markets are those who have built an inclusive brand from the ground-up.
“We spend all of our time looking at sales and marketing numbers and from where I’m sitting, inclusive marketing is more than the right thing to do – it drives revenue and value in the long-term.”
Johan Micheelsen, Director of Marketing, FoodBomb
“At its core, inclusive marketing is not new. Marketers have known for years that to get cut through with a particular audience you need to use imagery and language that appeal to that particular group. What’s changed is Australia has become one of the most diverse countries in the world with over 50 per cent of Aussies being either first or second generation immigrants (Census 2021 survey). Similarly, single family households also continue to increase and so does the amount of people identifying with the LGBTQI+ community.
“Audiences want to see themselves and their lifestyles reflected authentically in how brands communicate with them. If it’s not authentic, brands won’t earn the customer’s trust. To be authentic, you must first understand what your core brand ethics and values are, before conveying this publicly. If your audience is experiencing a particular pain point, your communications need to reflect that. This is true across the board, especially in hospitality, that traditionally has relied heavily on an international workforce from all over the world. Failing to consider diversity and inclusion in your tone, language and brand imagery could be damaging for your customers and your brand.”
Sarah Neill, founder of feel-good fashion app, Mys Tyler
“Culture has shifted, consumers are no longer looking for aspirational content, they want to embrace who they are. Authenticity has become the new currency and inclusive marketing is more important than ever. Inclusive marketing cannot be a short term tactic, it needs to be a long term commitment flowing through the business. In the case of fashion, it’s not just about diversity of models, it’s about the design and sizing of items, and the way a store is laid out and training of staff. It requires a genuine consideration for the people you want to include, which means creating and maintaining a dialogue with the people you wish to serve. And finally a word of caution, do not use the world inclusive if you aren’t truly inclusive, as your good intention and the really positive steps in the right direction could come back to bite you.”
Mahima Tamang Shrestha, Co-founder and Director at PurpleTree PR.
“How do people perceive your brand? Do they view it positively, feel optimistic about it, and can connect to it? If not, as a PR professional, I advise you that it’s about time you revisit your marketing strategy.
“There was a time when brands used aspirational content to market their products. Today, the world is tired of tokenism, white-washing and one-size-fits-all marketing. I speak for several others when I say that I prefer working with a brand that rather represents authenticity and is aligned with my values, and this is where the power of inclusive marketing plays a vital role for brands, big or small.
“Inclusive Marketing is not just a tick in the box but a genuine effort by organisations to curate content that mirrors the diverse communities and practices the organisations serve and convey the same in all internal and external communications. It helps businesses foster positivity and create a brand image that connects with the largest possible audience, thus helping in nurturing relationships with existing customers and business partners, fostering a stronger bond with prospective clients, and attracting a like-minded talent pool creating a more robust culture across your organisation.”