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  • BLOG
  • 02, OCTOBER 2020

Why Brands Need to Demonstrate Diversity in Marketing

As conversations about diversity—related to race, gender, sexual orientation, and more—come to the forefront, brands have taken to social media to put their stake in the ground. But increasingly for consumers, a hashtag or a black square in place of a profile photo just isn’t enough.

A commitment to diverse content and programming takes far more than a strong statement. It takes more than a video or two. It requires first taking a deep look at your audience, team structure, and core values. It requires reflection, followed by meaningful and consistent action.

In experiential marketing, a commitment to diversity can be critical in terms of campaign impact. Brands that don’t prioritize diversity at their events could be missing out on an opportunity to make deeper connections with their audiences—and run the risk of appearing elitist or out of touch.

 

Why Diversity in Marketing Matters

Diversity in marketing includes race, gender, and more.

According to the U.S. census, the ethnic makeup of the U.S. is changing. More than 50 percent of the population is expected to be composed of minority groups by the year 2042. Although racial and ethnic differences may be the first to come to mind when brands tailor their marketing to minority demographics, other dimensions of diversity in marketing include gender identity, sexuality, age, religion, and physical ability.

Audience members want to see themselves represented in content—not just in a single image or campaign. Most importantly, they want to consistently feel seen. Representation in marketing means that brands understand minority perspectives, needs, and challenges.

In addition, consumers aren’t just thinking about their own identities. According to a 2019 consumer survey, 64 percent of all respondents took action after seeing an ad they considered to be diverse or inclusive. Another study showed 70 percent of millennials are more likely to choose a brand if that brand demonstrates an authentic commitment to inclusion and diversity.

In the modern world, audiences want to see different voices and perspectives—not just their own.

 

Diversity in Experiential Marketing

SXSW 2019 Brand ambassadors for Disney

Dove, a personal care brand, has received its fair share of criticism for insensitive advertising. But in experiential marketing, the brand has consistently hit the mark. To advertise a pop-up styling event in NYC, they partnered with female Instagram influencers of all colors, shapes, and sizes from a diverse array of backgrounds.

Another Dove campaign focused on fostering relationships between fathers and their children. They offered free haircuts at participating Bishops locations, a minority-owned salon.

These examples show the power of diversity in marketing in-person events. Dove effectively targeted audiences of different genders, ages, orientations, and backgrounds by engaging with specific communities, highlighting these identities, and proving that they value their experiences.

For experiential events to be successful, brands need to do more than just reach out to diverse communities. In order to engage with consumers on a deeper level, event staffing and brand ambassadors should be representative of a wide range of backgrounds and identities. It’s crucial that your audience can relate to and connect with your event staff.

Even when targeting a majority audience, diversity among brand ambassadors will still emphasize the brand’s authenticity. It will also offer an opportunity for attendees to engage with people who are different from them.

Diversity in face-to-face events demonstrates a brand’s commitment to inclusion. When an event showcases diverse experiences and is represented by diverse faces, it can speak towards the brand’s values. It proves that they don’t just talk the diversity talk—they walk the walk too.

 

Taking Action: Turning Diversity into Inclusion

PLUS Brand Ambassadors

The rise of issues like COVID-19, national lockdowns, police protests, and more, have put a microscope on brands’ commitment to diversity in marketing. There is a growing demand for brands to offer more than just lip service when it comes to diversity, representation, equality, and justice. They are being asked to translate their words into action.

When it comes to experiential marketing, below are a few ways brands can reinforce their stance on equal representation:

  • Hire diverse event staff, particularly those who represent the communities you’re engaging with
  • Seek out brand ambassadors who represent different races, genders, body types, abilities, backgrounds, and more
  • Include minority communities, minority-owned businesses, or local organizations who work with these communities within your event ecosystem
  • Ensure advertising and content accurately represents different identities while avoiding stereotypes
  • Design events that highlight a particular cause—for example, an event focused on boosting body image for women, recognizing the work of single mothers, or shining a spotlight on Gen Z activism

 

Why Brand Experiences are Ideal Places for Diversity to Thrive

Elevate Brand Ambassador Vanya

As you plan new marketing campaigns for 2020, ask yourself: Is my brand doing enough to be inclusive? Modern consumers demand more from the brands they support. They want to see themselves represented, and they want to engage with diverse people and brand ambassadors. Most importantly, they want to see an active commitment from brands to make inclusion a priority.

Experiential marketing is a rich opportunity to connect with an audience on a personal level. By designing events that recognize, honor, and value diverse experiences, brands can ensure that no customer feels left out. Instead, they’ll walk away from an event feeling even more connected to others – and to the brand.

 

Is your brand reevaluating its commitment to diversity and inclusion? Contact us to learn more about how to deepen engagement with your audience and make a meaningful connection, even in the virtual world

Author: Kelly Springs-Kelley

Kelly Springs-Kelley is a marketing veteran who specializes in digital and experiential. When she's not creating compelling content or pondering the future of in-person consumer engagement, Kelly can be found hiking the mountains of Arizona with her 2 kids and 3 dogs.

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