Why Should You Care About Inclusive Marketing?
By Adwright, 29 July 2022
What is Inclusive Marketing?
In a nutshell, inclusive marketing refers to marketing that considers diversity in all forms, including but not limited to race, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality, income, and disability.
Ideally, marketing campaigns should resonate with people from all walks of life – reflecting the lived experiences of real individuals. Inclusivity is neither about ticking boxes of diversity nor a PR opportunity. It is underpinned by authenticity, a willingness to learn, as well as a continuous effort in contributing to cultural conversations. In the workplace, it should translate to internal communications, external marketing emails, and customer interactions. In other words, inclusivity should pervade every operational aspect of a business.
Why Does Inclusive Marketing Matter?
In the marketing and advertising industry, agencies spend a vast amount of time and effort in getting to know a client’s target audience. When we pitch our ideas, we truly believe that we are offering solutions that accurately address the real-world concerns of our clients and their consumers. However, what if our solutions can actually be more effective in representing our audiences? If so, why should we make an attempt to do better?
1. It Fosters Trust and Loyalty
According to the above-mentioned survey, 76% of Gen Z consumers – who are set to take over the economy in less than a decade – are more trusting of brands that represent diversity in ads. It is purported that when more trust is fostered, more connection is established between consumers and brands – be it a deeper immersion in the storytelling process or greater attention paid to product features. To put it simply, a sense of trust leads to an increase in purchase intent.
In 2018, local brand Poh Heng Jewellery marked its 70th anniversary with the launch of an out-of-home photo exhibition aptly titled “A Journey of Trust”. Photos of Singaporean personalities were displayed on billboards along the bustling shopping district of Orchard Road, among which featured two gay couples.
In an interview, assistant general manager Pamela Seow explained that the campaign showcases the trust Poh Heng has cultivated with its customers over the years, as well as honours individuals from all walks of life, races, ages, and vocations. As evidenced by comments left on social media platforms such as Facebook and Reddit, many were moved by the campaign, with some stating that Poh Heng has successfully earned their patronage – a clear demonstration of how inclusive marketing breeds trust.
2. Inclusive Businesses Outperform Competitors
When businesses include the voices of marginalised and underrepresented groups in marketing campaigns, they inadvertently meet the expectations of a wider consumer base as compared to businesses that fail to be inclusive in their marketing efforts. In other words, inclusive marketing helps a company outperform their competitors.
In 2021, the luxurious Marina Bay Sands (MBS) hotel was awarded the Enabling Mark (Platinum) for its disability-inclusive hiring efforts that ensure employees with special needs are recognised for their hard work and protected by policies that ensure fair compensation.
Ku Geok Boon, CEO of SG Enable, affirms that the Enabling Mark helps businesses to be recognised for their good work in hiring individuals with disabilities and being socially sustainable, effectively differentiating themselves from other companies. Ultimately, this example of MBS serves to illustrate that more diverse companies are indeed more likely to outperform less diverse ones in terms of making consumers pay attention, which translates to profitability in the long run.
So, going back to the question – why does inclusive marketing matter? To put it bluntly, inclusive marketing matters because consumers think it does.
3 Ways to Create Inclusive Campaigns
1) Know Your Client and Educate Yourself
Every effective campaign begins with understanding the client from economic, socio-cultural, and political standpoints. When there is a precise understanding of the client’s vision and objectives, the construction of a brand narrative holds the power to resonate with different audiences.
At Adwright, we strongly believe in the value of conducting a thorough brand audit of our clients. As the crucial first step in our empowering brand methodology, we get to know our clients on a deep level by analysing all aspects of their business. From interviewing employees across diverse backgrounds and hierarchies within a company to poring over the choice of language in existing marketing collaterals, Adwright aims to discover and rectify misalignments in the brand culture of our clients. Our research-intensive process helps us to build our strategies and messages in the most appropriate and nuanced of ways.
2) Remove Bias from Hiring Processes and Hire a Diverse Team
Inclusive marketing and an inclusive company culture go hand-in-hand. When firms hire interculturally competent individuals, it translates to an ability to tell stories and design products that authentically underscore common pain points of a wider audience. Thus, in order to speak to a diverse market, it is helpful – imperative, even – to have the same sort of diversity reflected in a marketing team. In a panel study conducted late last year, 76% of employees in Singapore consider diversity and inclusion workplace policies to be important. In a different survey, it is discovered that 71% of employers also feel the same way, denoting a good first step towards increasing workplace diversity.
At Adwright, our team of hardworking individuals come from different walks of life. Each employee is valued for bringing their unique perspectives and ideas to the table, which accounts for the creative ideas, stories, and messages that we inject into our branding campaigns. If you think you have what it takes to be a part of the team, write to us!
3) Think Beyond Gender, Culture, and Race
Although inclusive marketing refers to the consideration of diversity in campaigns, it can be easy to fall into the trap of associating it with a few specific traits and not others. For example, the well-established strive towards a progressive, gender-inclusive infrastructure in the local workforce may make it easy for brands to focus on gender issues while overlooking equally significant traits such as race, sexuality, age, and religion.
A better approach would be adopting an intersectional framework in addition to being mindful of the type of visuals and language used. Thus, an agency could opt to feature employees across diverse ethnic backgrounds, age groups, gender identities, gender orientations etc. After all, one hallmark of a great branding strategy is when target audiences are able to see themselves and their life experiences being reflected in the brand.
A good real-life example would be NTUC Income’s gorgeous one-take drone video in 2021 that features a diverse cast, including a lesbian couple rolling an inflatable pineapple into their new apartment. Titled “Made for the Moments that Matter”, many praised the company’s subtle inclusion of the queer and interracial couple that serves to reinforce how under-represented individuals in society can lead happy and fulfilling lives without falling into dreaded stereotypes.
At Adwright, we are no stranger to an international clientele that demands more nuanced approaches when it comes to addressing their target audiences. Read more about our project with Treasure Bay Bintan, where we worked to identify and resonate with its heterogeneous audience of both local and international holiday-makers. In another project with a local company, Academy of Rock, we underlined the brand’s dedication to cultivating a passion for music in students across all age groups in a visual medium. Both projects were treated with sensitivity and consideration, with lengths taken to ensure that the collaterals were designed congruent with the brands’ core values in mind.
As mentioned in the beginning, authenticity should lie at the heart of all marketing campaigns we put out. Agencies have to endeavour to include, rather than further alienate consumers with performative efforts.
In our local context, it is often argued that the ideas of diversity and inclusivity are “Western imports” with little relevance in Singapore. Some also contend that these issues are a cause for strife, serving to polarise different groups of people in our multicultural society. Indeed, the existence of such opinions serves to underscore how companies are not always positioned to overtly champion certain topics due to institutionalised restrictions and resistance. When we fail to tread carefully, efforts may blow up, with well-intended projects reduced to ashes.
At the very least, however, agencies are privileged enough to be in a position that allows us to be intentional about the type of conversation we want to create for a better society. Besides, inclusive marketing is truly not an unfamiliar concept as it heavily overlaps with the long-standing objective of marketing – to effectively communicate messages in a way that reaches specific audiences. What then makes inclusive marketing different? Aside from working to reach a wider audience, one notable difference is none other than the ever-changing parameters of inclusivity, which can be attributed to the increasingly diverse nature of the global marketplace.
Ultimately, only one fact remains: the paradigm is shifting.
With an increasing number of emerging brands possessing values and employing strategies that are accurately appealing to their target audiences, “inclusive marketing” as we know it will simply be referred to as good old “marketing” in quite possibly a decade or less. As much inclusive marketing is not just a buzzword to be thrown around in the office, it also goes beyond good intentions. It is the next logical move for companies looking to employ sustainable strategies for success. At length, businesses that recognise its value are the ones that will not be left behind, instead making their marketing budgets work harder and better for them.
Adwright is an award-winning integrated branding agency in Singapore with over 25 years of experience in the industry and counting. We are dedicated to authentic brand storytelling that reflects the lives of our diverse audiences. We have collaborated with clients ranging from local SMEs to global corporations, spanning across many industries. We provide integrated solutions in branding, design, communications and beyond to help you bring your brand’s presence to market. Partner with us and embark on your unique brand journey today. To find out more about the services that Adwright provides, call us today at +65 6227 7227 or email email@example.com.