Inclusive Marketing Principles & Trends To Implement in Your Business Strategy

How to create inclusive marketing

Marketers of the past used to try to reach a particular economically active audience. They studied what those people like and gave it to them, using images and words that appeal to that segment. But nowadays the global marketplace has become more and more diverse. Due to economic and cultural growth, many other customer groups, underrepresented before, emerged. To meet all their needs and stay relevant, you’ll need a whole new approach –– and here inclusive marketing enters the field.

What is inclusive marketing?

Inclusive marketing means creating content that reflects the needs of diverse audiences and communities. Your message should resonate with people from all backgrounds, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, beliefs, age, or otherwise. If you do it right, it leads to positive social changes and decreases cultural bias.

Inclusive marketing campaign example by Coca-Cola

One of the most known campaigns by Coca-Cola “Share a Coke” which celebrates names from all over the world is a good example of inclusive marketing. Source: Emaze

An inclusive marketing approach helps to elevate diverse social and cultural models and strengthen the connection between the company and its customers.

Inclusive marketing campaign example by Everlast
In 2019 Everlast invited a transgender boxer, Patricio Manuel, to become the face of the company. It demonstrates that the brand welcomes athletes from all walks of life. Source: Middle Easy

Why is inclusive marketing so important?

Just look at these stats: multicultural consumers make up almost 40% of the U.S. population. And 59% of people say they are more loyal to brands that stand for diversity and inclusion in online advertising. 71% of audiences in the US, UK, and Brazil would like to see more diversity in online advertising. Consumers are expecting to see someone like them in advertising –– people of the same race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. They are also willing to see more thoughtful and respectful content that reflects the values of their communities.

Diverse representation in online ads benefits both people and brands. When brands care about different consumer groups and communities, it has a range of positive effects, including helping to drive purchases and loyalty.

Let’s consider other ways in which inclusive marketing can benefit your business.

  • It makes your brand appealing to a larger audience. It is quite obvious from the stats above that the majority of people prefer more diversity in brands’ messaging. Attention to all categories of buyers can help you reach the audience in a way you may not have previously considered.
  • It increases revenue. Simple math: the bigger your audience is, the more potential buyers you get, and the more profit you receive. Inclusive marketing opens you ways to the markets you have never reached before.

A quick story to illustrate that: in 2017 Fenty Beauty launched its foundation with 40 shades for all skin colors –– from albinism to those with very deep tones. It was a revolution in the beauty sphere. The brand saw an impressive $72 million in revenue within the first month of sales, and more than 132 million views on YouTube. Fenty Beauty foundation has become a Sephora best-seller, even to this day.

Inclusive marketing campaign example by Fenty Beauty
Fenty Beauty’s inclusive advertising campaign. Source: Think With Google
  • It’s future-proofing. Generation Z is in their early twenties now, and soon they will become the largest consumer group. Investigations show that 70% of Gen Z consumers are more trusting of brands that represent diversity in ads. By implementing inclusive marketing you can take the lead and start attracting your future buyers now.

Top inclusive marketing trends

Let’s identify the most popular inclusive marketing trends that will help your company meet the expectations of consumers.

There’s no such thing as normal

It is crucial to recognize that every individual is unique and it’s impossible to apply the general rules to every case.

When imagining a couple expecting a baby, many people may think about someone like this:

Stock photo of a couple expecting a baby
Source: Freepik

But this couple may also look as follows:

Inclusive marketing campaign example by Calvin Klein
Source: Calvin Klein

This is a trans man Roberto Bete with a trans woman Erica Feeha in Calvin Klein’s ad. Such a campaign highlights the trans agenda and shows that the brand supports all the categories of buyers and cares about the trans community.

Implementing inclusion in your marketing strategy is a must

Nowadays many companies can’t be considered inclusive –– for example, lingerie brands often lack plus-size models. That’s why placing an intentional focus on inclusion is a must for all marketers.

Victoria’s Secret had always been among those lingerie companies that supported the idea of using perfect bodies in their advertising campaigns. But recently they tend to lean into more comfort and invite inclusive faces –– like Sofía Jirau, their first Down syndrome model.

Inclusive marketing campaign example by Victoria’s Secret
Source: Sky News

Grow inclusive culture in your company

When you’re using an inclusive approach only when it comes to your marketing campaigns, it’s hypocritical. It’s important that your brand’s values match your corporate culture. Hire a diverse team and give them opportunities to grow –– it will help you to relate with diverse audiences.

A good example of an inclusive corporate culture is L’Oréal: they have a multinational team and support many cross-cultural initiatives. They sponsor workshops in India dedicated to disability awareness, and offer training to young adults in vulnerable Pakistan communities –– here are just a few of their global activities.

Principles of inclusive marketing

Here are simple principles to follow when planning your inclusive campaign:

Reflect the real world and real people in your ads

Make sure you help every person feel connected with your brand. To do that, choose words and visuals avoiding stereotypes and even try to challenge them: doing that shows your company in a positive light.

Recently, Mattel, the maker of Barbie, has unveiled its first doll that uses hearing aids so that more children can “see themselves reflected in the product”. Barbie dolls have always embodied what society expected from women: perfect bodies with unrealistic proportions, ideal hairstyles, and makeup. This model challenges our expectations from Barbies and shows that women can be different –– and it’s normal.

Inclusive marketing campaign example by Mattel
Source: My Modern Met

Take time to understand different diversities and their cultures

If you’re going to represent a particular group of people, spend time learning about their personal experiences, opinions, and history. Thus, you’re showing your respect and appreciation and can tell their stories in more detail.

For example, if you address some ethnical group, it is crucial that you learn about their traditions and holidays. Many of them have special days like Hanukkah for Jews, Chinese New Year in China, and Cinco de Mayo in Mexico.

Talk to your audience to learn how to improve their experience

When you’ve launched a campaign, ask the prospects how you’re doing. Let them know you’re making an effort and want to get it right.

To do that, use a customer survey –– it’s a perfect tool to learn more about your audience and what they think of your brand. Here’s a good example:

Customer survey example by InVision
Source: Really Good Emails

Get started with inclusive marketing: things to consider

When implementing an inclusive email marketing strategy for your business, it is not enough to simply download a stock photo with different faces. It is a profound and complex approach that involves your brand’s tone of voice, messaging, visuals, and other things. In the following chapters, we’ll focus on other points to consider to create a successful inclusive marketing campaign.

Think beyond race

Diversity is not just about skin color –– there are other traits it is important to consider to reach a wider audience. They may also include:

  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Appearances
  • Age
  • Nationality
  • Income
  • Education
  • Language
  • Religion

These social and cultural factors may affect the way people perceive your brand’s message, so they should not be neglected when planning your marketing.

Look how neatly Dove highlighted the problem of women’s appearances’ objectification in their famous Campaign for Real Beauty:

Inclusive marketing campaign example by Dove
Inclusive marketing campaign example by Dove
Source: Dove

Choose your tone and language

Phrases, words, symbols, or metaphors that describe something –– all that matters. Language has an immense impact on people’s minds: at the same time, it can build warm and solid relationships, or confuse, and even cause harm. So, practice placing and choosing the words carefully, and consider every symbol in order not to offend anyone or get into an awkward situation.

ThirdLove is a good example of an inclusive brand choosing the proper words in advertising. Their slogan “It’s not your boobs –– it’s the bra” cheers up thousands of women thinking that something is not OK with their bodies:

Inclusive marketing campaign example by ThirdLove
Source: ThirdLove

Use diverse visuals

Visual representation helps people to see themselves in your brand. Being properly reflected in the media helps them feel valued, inspired, and heard. Before placing an image or video on your website or article, ask yourself several questions: Does it elevate diverse voices? Can it reflect society in its multiple dimensions? If the answer is yes, then the visual is worth choosing.

You can also add some elements to your design showing support for the communities that matter to you. For example, Grammarly has added a special banner and changed its favicon supporting the people of Ukraine:

Inclusive website design by Grammarly
Source: Grammarly

Consider context

First, let’s define what context means –– it’s a combination of circumstances that surround the event or a piece of content. Time flies, the circumstances change, so change the values of the society and some things that were habitual, become irrelevant. Try to stick to current reality and keep abreast of the changes and trends.

For example, in the 50s, this ad by Van Heusen called “Show her it’s a man’s world” was a modern and witty solution and properly fitted the cultural context. And it is hard to imagine that in 2022 someone could use such a sexist marketing approach.

Ad design in 50s
Source: Business Insider

Get rid of stereotypes

One of the most vivid examples of stereotyping is stock photography. When you search for something like “a boss and an employee” you get the results like the one below: a young white boss (a man, of course) and a white woman employee.

Stock photo of a boss and an employee
Source: Freepik

But if you do a bit more research, it is possible to come across images like these:

Inclusive stock photo of a black woman boss and employee
Source: Freepik

…or this:

Inclusive stock photo of a disabled worker
Source: Freepik

We as marketers have the power to change the world around us. Even if you do such simple things as searching for stock photos, use an inclusive marketing approach. Try to avoid harmful stereotypes and go against standardized images that represent simplified concepts and prejudiced assumptions.

Invest in digital accessibility and inclusive UX

Your website is a good place to implement an inclusive approach, but very often companies overlook that. Make sure the digital resource is accessible for people with disabilities, and keep in mind different demographics when planning UX.

Microsoft has added many inclusive features to Windows 11: like options for people with vision and hearing disabilities. In the case of other physical disabilities, it is possible to operate your system using voice recognition, or even your eyes.

Microsoft Windows’ inclusive features
Source: Microsoft

Think about making your website a safe and comfortable place for all members of your community. Sometimes even the smallest details matter.

Inclusive marketing examples

As we’ve already observed many successful marketing examples, in this chapter we’ll focus more on implementing an inclusive approach in your email marketing campaign. Let’s observe several really good inclusive newsletters appreciated by members of email marketing communities.

Lacoste

Inclusive email marketing campaign example by Lacoste
Source: MailCharts

In this campaign, Lacoste highlights the idea of unconventional beauty and does it perfectly. Wonderful models of different races, minimalist design, and a bare minimum of text –– here are the secret ingredients of this email’s success.

Microsoft

Inclusive email marketing campaign example by Microsoft
Source: MailCharts

The first thing that catches your eye is the heading More choices than ever – using such wording, the brand shows that it has options for everyone. The only thing you have to do is to choose the most suitable one. Photos of models of different nationalities and ages help to reinforce the key message. Also, the last chapter highlights that Microsoft has a diverse team –– which also improves the impression of this company.

Maybelline

Inclusive email marketing campaign example by Maybelline
Source: MailСharts

It’s been a while since it was possible to find only several shades of a foundation on the market. Nowadays companies are trying to meet the expectations of all customer groups, and Maybelline is no exception –– we see that in their latest email promoting a Greed Edition of their famous foundation. It has 8 shades so that every person with every skin color could find the most suitable one.

Aftershokz

Inclusive email marketing campaign example by Aftershokz
Source: Really Good Emails

Many brands neglect holidays of different ethnic groups and create formal Valentine’s Day and Christmas emails. Aftershokz chose another strategy and sent congrats to all Jews who celebrate Hanukkah –– the Jewish festival of light. That’s also an inclusive approach to increase the customers’ loyalty. Sending out such emails requires proper segmentation in order not to get into an awkward situation.

Etsy

Inclusive email marketing campaign example by Etsy
Source: Really Good Emails

The brand celebrates Pride Month by sending a selection of queer-owned shops and supporting LGBTQIA+ makers. Such an email represents the company as a safe and supportive space for those who are identified as gender/sexual orientation minority.

Dropbox

Inclusive email marketing campaign example by Dropbox
Source: Really Good Emails

Going back to building an inclusive culture in your company: here’s a good example of doing that. Dropbox has created a playbook of tips on supporting diversity based on their personal experience. It is possible to implement this advice in your corporate culture to make it a cozy space for every employee.

State Of

nclusive email marketing campaign example by State Of
Source: Really Good Emails

Very often it is hard to accept age-related changes –– it seems that the whole world belongs to the younger, and you stay on the sidelines of life. State Of is aware of this problem and shows support to this age category by offering them a special cosmetic line. These products are developed specifically to meet the needs of bodies in menopause and help people save their natural beauty.

Wrapping up

Nowadays adjusting your marketing (even if it is email marketing for small business) to the demands of diverse customer groups is a must. Let’s briefly sum up the principles of a successful inclusive campaign:

  • Reflect the real world and real people in your ads –– help people see themselves in your ads.
  • Take time to understand different diversities and their cultures –– spend some time learning more about a group you’re going to represent.
  • Talk to your audience to learn how to improve their experience –– let your customers know you’re making an effort and want to get it right.

How to get started with inclusive marketing? Here are the simple steps you can take:

  • Think beyond race –– diversity is not only about skin color, there are many factors it is necessary to be aware of.
  • Carefully choose tone and language –– consider every symbol in order not to offend anyone or get into an awkward situation.
  • Visual representation also matters –– choose relevant images to properly reflect the society in its multiple dimensions.
  • Consider cultural context –– try to stick to current reality and keep abreast of the changes and trends.
  • Try to get rid of stereotypes –– instead, challenge them!
  • Invest in website accessibility and inclusive UX –– think about users with disabilities that may be visiting your resource and add some peculiarities that will help to enhance their experience.

All those simple tips can help your marketing campaign embrace all groups and leave no one behind.

Do you use an inclusive approach in your marketing strategy? Does it work for you?

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