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We live in the most diverse and multicultural times in the history of the world. Technology has helped people migrate from different countries with much more ease than ever before. In the United States alone, it is estimated that by 2044 the sum population of all minorities will surpass the population of white Americans.
Any savvy businessman or marketer knows that this means their brand needs to adapt fast or be prepared to get left behind.
We hope, with this article, to help your business transition its online advertising into a more diversified one.
According to Maryville University, current data shows that growth among racial and ethnic minority groups is outpacing that of Caucasians, indicating that America is becoming more diverse.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2020, nearly four out of every ten Americans identify as belonging to a racial or ethnic group other than white, implying that the white population will have decreased for the first time in the country’s history during the 2010-2020 decade. Furthermore, another U.S. Census Bureau mentions that more than half of Americans will belong to minority groups by 2044.
In a recent survey held among American Muslim consumers, 400 out of 400 respondents reacted to the statement “(a) I am a Muslim and (b) my choice of a brand or product is influenced by how Muslim-friendly it is”, with a “yes” for both “(a)” and “(b)”. Furthermore, in another survey, “Up to 83% of people pointed to better representing modern society as the reason marketing campaigns were impactful in a positive way”. Also, 70% of Gen Z consumers trust brands that show diversity in their advertisements.
Businesses have no choice but to update their promotional assets from a marketing standpoint. Since advertisements are at the forefront of brand efforts, diversity must be represented correctly in ad material. The only way for brands to remain relatable is to provide diverse content for diverse audiences in a way that accurately represents modern society.
Entering new markets makes it easier to generate new revenue. More diversity and inclusion contribute to a more cohesive society and allow businesses to target new markets and increase response rates with relatable content, benefiting their bottom lines.
According to Heat, a Deloitte-owned research firm, brands with the most representative advertisements saw an average stock gain of 44% during the seven-quarter period that ended in 2018. Consumers preferred brands with the highest diversity ratings by an 83% margin.
Meanwhile, Microsoft Advertising has shown that more inclusive ads have seen 23% more “purchase intent” from Gen Z consumers. Alongside this, 64% of consumers, in a Think With Google poll, said they took action after seeing an advertisement they thought was inclusive or diverse.
In a very detailed article by Muslim Ad Network, you can read the step-by-step process of creating diversity and inclusion in your marketing campaign. We mention that it all starts with your internal environment: your team, your business culture, and your mentality. Before we go specifically into diversity in your ads, let’s look at some highlights from this article.
For effective diversity marketing, you must adapt the message to the market rather than adapt the market to the message. So, if you want to communicate with minority consumers, make sure your message does not contradict their values.
Your inclusion marketing campaign must begin with a consideration of the multicultural context. You will need to research not only purchasing habits, but also values, ideals, perceptions, and communication methods.
Although your marketing team may not require members from every minority group, you should actively recruit talent from diverse backgrounds or work with external consultants and agencies.
If your marketing team is made up of like-minded individuals who decide that an ad campaign looks good to them without consulting members of the minority group you are targeting, your company is making a big mistake.
Even having members of a minority group on your marketing team may not be sufficient. Aside from soccer rivalries, Latin America, for example, is full of complex relationships. Consider Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. They compete over who makes the best plantain. Imagine making a campaign for Hispanics in general and then mentioning how Dominican plantains are the best in the world.
Connecting to minority consumer groups in real life will also help you gain more knowledge of their preferences. Even more importantly, your brand will gain a reputation and establish connections between your business and community leaders.
Diversity and Inclusion Marketing Audit
For the best results, you must audit your entire marketing infrastructure to see if there are sufficient elements of diversity and inclusion pertaining to:
Once you’ve optimized as much of your marketing infrastructure as possible for diversity and inclusion, you can begin creating ads that reflect this. Let us now look at how to create ads that promote diversity:
The information below is based on UNICEF’s Promoting diversity and inclusion in advertising: a
Racial Stereotypes: Black people excel at sports and dance, while Asians excel in STEM subjects.
Ethnic Stereotypes: Jewish people are extremely knowledgeable about finance and Indigenous people dislike wearing clothes.
Cultural Stereotypes: Muslim girls are always oppressed and accents from Europe are appealing, while accents from other parts of the world are amusing.
Cultural Appropriation: In the above-mentioned publication UNICEF describes cultural appropriations as:
“Adoption of icons, rituals, aesthetic standards and behavior from one culture by another. Culture is often appropriated by a dominant group from a minority or subordinate group in terms of social, political, and/or economic status. In this process, significant artifacts and beliefs are
used/exploited without understanding or respecting their original meaning”.
In February 2022, the ASA summary report on tackling harmful racial and ethnic stereotyping in advertising came out. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) UK’s independent advertising regulator explains:
“We have published the findings of a major project which looked at the extent to which portrayal of race or ethnicity in UK ads might give rise to harm or serious offense, including by reinforcing adverse stereotypes”.
The following came to light:
Reinforcement of Existing Stereotypes: The repetition of certain portrayals has the potential to reinforce society’s perceptions of people from minority groups.
Creating new stereotypes: Portrayals of people from BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) groups have emerged that can paint a one-dimensional picture of them, particularly in the depiction of family life, relationships, and appearance.
Perpetuating or reinforcing racist attitudes and behaviors: Past trauma related to race or ethnicity could be evoked by advertisements depicting racist behavior or other elements, even when the advertiser was contesting negative stereotypes.
Your ads must reflect what we talked about earlier in the article in the chapter “How to Add Diversity and Inclusion to Your Marketing”. Without the proper internal audit, proper knowledge, hiring the right mix of diverse individuals, and working with external agencies it is going to be very difficult to create ads that speak to minorities. However, once this is established you can use the below checklist to create diversity-friendly ads:
It’s crunch time for brands. We are in a historical moment of make or break. It’s quite simple, brands that embrace diversity and inclusion in their marketing and advertising will stay relevant and prosper, with all things equal. Brands that do not embrace diversity and inclusion in their marketing and advertising will have a hard time doing well, the stats don’t lie.
However, you can’t just start spitting out diversity and inclusion in your marketing and advertising. You need the right people, knowledge, frameworks, and infrastructure to do it right. Starting with diversity and inclusion in your marketing and advertising in the wrong way can be worse than not starting at all.
We hope that after reading this article you will be able to make the right choices when it comes to diversity and inclusion for your marketing and advertising campaigns.
Alwi Suleiman has been in marketing since 2006 and has helped several businesses build their marketing strategies. He is the Lead Marketer at Muslim Ad Network, co-author of the Muslim Consumer Guide, and the owner of Content Market King. He is passionate about helping small businesses thrive through online marketing strategies.