Inclusive Marketing: A Quick Guide
Inclusive marketing means creating content that reflects the diverse communities your business serves. As marketers, we need to relay our brand’s message in a way that resonates with people from all backgrounds, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, ability, religion or sexual orientation.
Research shows that 90% of consumers believe that companies have a responsibility to improve the state of the world, instead of profit being their sole focus. With 43% of the US population identifying as Hispanic, Asian or African American, brands need a multicultural marketing strategy to grow. In this article, we explore Inclusive marketing in more detail.
What is Inclusive Marketing?
Inclusive marketing is content that that resonates with everybody, regardless of their race, gender, age, sexual orientation or other. Companies with an inclusive marketing strategy elevate diverse voices and role models, lead positive social change and decrease cultural bias through respectful and thoughtful content.
As marketers, it’s our reasonability to relay our company’s message in a way that connects with people from all backgrounds and doesn’t make anybody feel excluded or unwelcome. Beyond diversity, inclusive marketing can elevate the voices of those who have been underrepresented or marginalised, influence positive social change and deepen connections with customers.
Why is Inclusive Marketing so Important?
As our society becomes more diverse, it’s important that brands are thoughtful about the images, messages and values that represent their company – as well as considering the greater social impact. 90% of people think that companies have a responsibility to see beyond profit and positively impact the state of the world. Companies, especially large ones, can be leaders in social change if they put in the thought, time and effort required.
Inclusive marketing is also important for selfish reasons. With almost half of the US population identifying as African American, Asian or Hispanic, and inclusive marketing strategy is essential for business growth. If your content doesn’t resonate with certain groups, you could be losing potential customers.
6 Inclusive Marketing Principles
So, we know what inclusive marketing is and why it’s important, but how do we put it into practice? Below, we’ve broken the strategy into 6 key sections. As you read through them, remember to keep “intention vs impact” in mind. This is the concept that while we all have positive intent, it’s the impact of our content and actions that we are responsible for.
1. Consider Tone
The first thing to consider is tone. Tone is the characteristic, sentiment or style of a piece of content. When people are toned off or offended by content but can’t understand why, tone is often to blame. To make sure your tone is inclusive, consider the intended topic, message, subjects and impact of your content in the planning stages. This will help you to create thoughtful and respectful tone throughout the piece.
2. Consider Language
Language includes the words, symbols, phrases or metaphors used to describe something. Language is powerful. It can either strengthen relationships and deepen understanding or it can confuse readers or even cause harm. With this in mind, it’s important to think about every word, phrase and symbol you use. Don’t just think about what the words say, but also consider where and how they are placed.
3. Consider Representation
Representation is the visible presence of various identities in an image, story, video or article. When it comes to inclusive marketing, representation is also powerful. Whatever our age, gender, race or orientation, we all want to see ourselves reflected in the media. It helps us to feel included, inspired, empowered and heard. Before running a piece of content or publishing an ad, consider whether it reflects society. As marketers, we are responsible for elevating diverse voices and connecting them to our platforms. The best companies give everybody equal opportunity.
4. Consider Context
The next thing to consider is context. This can be described as the circumstances that inform a piece of content or an event. This could refer to the cultural or historical influences and also extends to the hierarchy or order of the subjects. Over the past few years, plenty of ads have incited controversy for missing important cultural context, often related to racial or gender equality. In many cases, these adverts have negatively impacted the business and lost them a host of loyal customers.
One example of hierarchy can be seen in stock photography. When you search “boss and employee”, you’ll often see a male standing over a woman. This implies certain power dynamics and suggests that the male is the boss and the woman is the employee. Many companies are now using their own photography to ensure images are not only diverse, but they also consider hierarchy and order.
5. Avoid Appropriation
Appropriation should be avoided in inclusive marketing. This is defined as using or taking an aspect from minority culture without honouring the meaning behind it. Drawing from people’s traditions, cultures and personal experiences can be both sensitive and subjective. To lead with cultural awareness and respect, we need to be mindful of historical context, seek guidance and diverse opinions, honour and learn the culture, evaluate authentic voices and evaluate impact and intent.
Counter-stereotype can be explained as going against a standardised image that represents a prejudiced attitude, uncritical judgement or oversimplified opinion. Over the years, many adverts have played into harmful stereotypes. As marketers, we have the power to make a positive social change, instead of emboldening these stereotypes. Counter-stereotype marketing uses images that shatter these stereotypes rather than highlight them.
So, there you have it – a quick guide to inclusive marketing. To resonate with people of all backgrounds and help your business thrive, implement inclusive marketing today.