Diversity in marketing is an imperative — at least for companies and organizations seeking to capitalize on the maximum number of consumers.
But many marketers wrongly believe they can achieve a brand that appeals to “diverse” audiences by simply incorporating cultural imagery and messages into their campaigns. The reality, however, is that they are only talking at individuals of color. A tremendous opportunity is lost when companies and organizations do not look beyond cultural representation and seek to find new and creative ways to develop messaging that not only resonates with diverse audiences, but also creates an ongoing dialogue with consumers.
Diversity marketing (also referred to as in-culture marketing) includes different minorities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions and philosophies. Diversity marketing is not so much a strategy as it is a new way of communicating that appeals to, and includes, diverse groups. This may include using different methods or marketing channels to appeal to various groups based on cultural differences, ethnicities, races, genders, religious beliefs and more. How do businesses go about implementing this new way of communicating?
1. Be authentic.
Effective diversity marketing means adapting the message to the market rather than trying to adapt the market to the message. A poor attempt to reach diverse customers would be to develop an ad campaign first and then try to put a multicultural “spin” on it; for example, using the same advertising but substituting images of African-Americans or Latinos for Caucasians. Successful diversity campaigns start with multicultural messaging and representation in mind.
Market research is conducted on the target consumers, including their buying habits, values, ideals, perceptions and methods of communication. Members of diverse consumer audiences are advertising-savvy; they recognize the difference between an authentic message, one that paints a vivid, unique story, and one that is a facsimile, a poor replica distinguished only by the colors used to paint it.
2. Avoid stereotypes.
As a diversity campaign is developed, the profile of the target audience should take shape and further diversify. For example, there are many different subgroups within the Latino (Latinx), black, and LGBTQIA communities — there are no single, like-minded market groups. Contact with, and investment in, the targeted communities is an important component of a diversity marketing strategy. Such activity does more than simply establish a reputation or mindshare in the target group — it also opens a dialogue with community leaders, giving them greater insight to communication methods and expectations. Working alongside individuals inside the community helps to ensure that marketers avoid misdirected and/or ignored messages.
3. Adopt a diverse perspective.
To create authentic messaging for diverse audiences, marketers need a team of diverse staff members with equally diverse perspectives. Too often, a group of like-minded individuals can decide that an ad campaign looks good to them without considering how it appears to other audiences — a fatal mistake. Furthermore, marketers must test advertising methods in focus groups and small trial runs to collect information about how various cultural groups react to their efforts. Ultimately, creating true diversity in marketing is more than telling a story — it’s about creating a dialogue.