We have spoken at length about the importance of inclusive marketing, what to do and what to avoid, and showcased examples of good inclusive marketing and downright regrettable judgment calls. As we move into the future of marketing with an ever-more diverse audience, we need to ensure our messaging continues to meet them with respect and authenticity.
Consumers see through inauthentic marketing
Companies should be mindful of their public image, especially as criticism against advertising and marketing efforts rise. As companies express solidarity with social justice movements but are accused of just "virtue signalling", the Harvard Business Review notes that this is not a time to share generic messages or empty rhetoric. Doing so can come across as inauthentic and more like publicity stunts than genuine attempts at contributing positively towards conversations around topics like diversity and inclusion.
So what is next for inclusive marketing? And what can we, as responsible marketers, do to ensure we take into account the complexities of the individuals we’re trying to target? Here are some pointers we believe will help your brand stay at the forefront of inclusive marketing:
Keep up with the latest shifts in demographic data
The English language is always evolving, and with it, the words we use to describe different groups of people. It is no longer enough to make assumptions based on age, gender or race. We now live in a world where people are comfortable fluidly moving between multiple identities.
It's important to stay abreast of these changes so that your messaging remains relevant and respectful. Additionally, be mindful of changes in cultural norms and values – what may have been considered acceptable a few years ago may now be viewed as offensive. We need to understand these nuances to connect with consumers in a way that is authentic and respectful.
Don't make assumptions about your audience
Just because someone falls into a certain demographic doesn't mean they fit neatly into a box. People are complex individuals with unique experiences, beliefs and values. As such, it's important not to make assumptions about what they do or don't like – find out directly from them instead. Conduct surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews to better understand who your target audience is and what they're looking for from your brand.
Be authentic in your messaging
For your message to resonate with consumers, it needs to be authentic – it should come from a place of genuine respect and understanding. This means no pandering or tokenism; instead, focus on creating messages that reflect the real experiences and needs of the people you're trying to reach. Only then will you be able to build trust and credibility with your audience.
Be careful not to exclude anyone unintentionally
When crafting your messaging, remember that there is a fine line between being exclusionary and being too vague. You want your message to be clear and concise without alienating any potential customers. For example, if you’re targeting parents of young children, don’t assume all of them are married couples – single parents also make up a significant portion of that demographic. Similarly, don’t use gendered language like “guys” or “ladies” when addressing your audience – use terms like “folks” or “everyone” instead. You can learn more about non-inclusive words in this blog.
Recruit culturally intelligent employees
A culturally intelligent team is essential for effective and inclusive marketing. They can reach audiences who may not usually purchase from you; this includes people with different backgrounds or story arcs in their lives. A brand with a diverse core can achieve more effective and powerful brand loyalty by weaving people of different backgrounds into its fabric.
Be intentional about diversity and inclusion
Inclusion should be more than just an afterthought – it should be central to your brand identity and something you proactively strive for in all aspects of your business. Make sure people of all backgrounds feel welcome and represented within your organisation, from your employees up to your senior leadership team. Only then will you be able to create messages that genuinely reflect the diversity of the human experience.
As the world becomes more connected and diverse than ever before, brands must stay ahead of the curve when it comes to inclusive marketing. By keeping up with the latest trends, avoiding assumptions about their audience, and being authentic in their messaging, marketers can ensure that their brand remains at the forefront of this ever-evolving landscape.
Do you need some assistance with your inclusive marketing efforts? Our inclusive language guide will provide you with five helpful changes to make your marketing message as inclusive as possible. Download it below.