Inclusive Marketing: A Necessity

In today’s dynamic world, Inclusive Marketing has become an absolute necessity. Gone are the days when organizations could remain ignorant of diverse communities and cultural bias. For brands to strive in these days and in this age, it is of utmost importance for them to create content and communicate it in a way that reflects various communities and at the same time is respectful to their cultures.

Inclusive Marketing is simply a way of leading positive change and alleviating cultural bias. It is a way for the brands to build the trust of their customers through the creation of respectful and thoughtful marketing strategies. Brands today are responsible for communicating about themselves in a way that customers can relate to despite their diverse background, gender identity, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or otherwise.

We are in a time when we consume the most content, be it on social media platforms or OTT platforms. The exposure to information has led to the changing needs and expectations of the customers in the past decade. This is one of the reasons why brands need to prioritize Inclusive Marketing. According to Salesforce’s research, 90% of consumers believe that businesses have a responsibility to look beyond profit and improve the state of the world.

Inclusive Marketing is not about targeting a niche audience or complying with some policies about inclusivity. It’s more than just doing things just for the sake of it. It is about creating an environment in which customers get the feeling of being heard and be represented. It is about making the customers feel seen and understood. 

Today, there is more risk in playing it safe than in standing up for a cause. With a rise in the number of social media users, brands are constantly under the public eye now, more than ever. Every move of the brand is under scrutiny. Customers today make their decisions based on how their brands act or react to a cause that is important to them. According to research, 48% of customers stopped buying from a brand because it did not support their cause. 

Following are the ways by which we can make sure there is inclusivity in the content or marketing strategy 

  • We could start by understanding what inclusivity means. The context of inclusivity will change from region to region, culture to culture. Hence, it is important to be aware of and respect the cultural diversity that exists between customers. 
  • Language and tone play a crucial role. Certain words and phrases can be demeaning to certain communities. It is important to understand how and why a certain word/phrase is inappropriate. It is important to understand what is acceptable and respectful for that community and use that instead.
  • Not falling prey to stereotypes. A lot of times we aren’t aware of the impact stereotypes have made on us. It goes to an extent that we feel that certain things are supposed to look like so and nothing else. Brands need to look deeply and examine if they are giving in to stereotypes and try to counter them. The simplest example could be picturing a man when the word ‘CEO’ is called out. A woman too can be the CEO. Brands have to take steps to normalize counter- stereotyping. 
  • Representation in media is an important aspect to bring in inclusivity. When customers see people like them represented in media, it makes them feel empowered and inspired. Including diverse identities and personalities in media and giving a voice to their stories, ideas and feelings is a brilliant way to maintain inclusivity. It helps brands to develop a stronger bond with their customers. According to research, a brand that includes diversity is found to be more trustworthy and genuine by 70% of the customers. 
  • Seeking guidance. Brands should never shy away from asking for help when they are doubtful. It is better to take some time and understand the nuances rather than doing something inappropriate or hurtful to the customers. It goes without saying, “Better late than sorry”. Getting proper guidance from experts will not only save brands from making blunders but also build a strong relationship with customers for supporting and understanding their history and meaning behind it. 

The most recent example of this is Cardi B misrepresenting Goddess Durga to sell shoes. It ended up hurting the sentiments of the Indian community. This whole debacle could have been avoided if someone from the Indian culture was asked for guidance or if they had put in more effort in researching. 

Following are the reasons why should brands spend their time and efforts in making Inclusive strategies and content:

  • Creating a healthy brand image. As brands walk towards inclusivity, they are seen as more genuine. When customers feel that their culture is being properly represented, it is likely that they will associate the brand with trust and authenticity. Non-inclusive brands will eventually fall behind due to their regressive ways of dealing with customers.
  • This will eventually create brand loyalty. Customers who feel heard and respected will choose inclusive brands over non-inclusive ones for the simple reason that they can see themselves being represented in the brand. 
  • Customers will recommend inclusive brands to other customers and this will in turn increase their customer base. Brands that value customer’s sentiments will always fair well and win new customer’s trust.

Some campaigns that have won at the Inclusivity game:

  • Brooke Bond Red label Campaign acknowledged the bias against dwarfism in an advertisement labeled #unstreotype. 
  • Another Brooke bond red label ad addressed the issue of how people with diseases like Alzheimer’s get isolated in an effort to bring about a change in the attitude of people towards them.
  • Lenovo featured differently-abled children in their advertisement for their Yoga laptop in a bid to reduce bias against these special children. 
  • Another one from the Brooke Bond Red Label ‘Swad Apne Pan Ka’ Campaign brought to light the bias against the transgender community. The transgender community is often misunderstood. This advertisement tried to bring to light a different side of theirs i.e., the hardworking human side. 
  • A brilliant effort on part of Prega-News was to bring forth the idea of #GoodNewsIsGenderFree while also being respectful of the transgender community. 
  • Surf Excel showcased how communities can celebrate their festivals while being considerate of other communities through an advertisement where a little girl helped a little boy get to his place of worship safely during the celebration of Holi. #RangLaayeSang
  • A beautiful initiative by McDonald’s India where they designed a case to hold the burger together especially for people with limited hand mobility. 

Inclusive Marketing is a necessity. It is imperative for brands to take up the initiative and bring about this change. It is not just about gaining customers and making profits but about gaining their trust and loyalty. They are responsible to shatter stereotypes, change the world’s view, and develop a more unbiased and open environment for all communities and people who identify themselves as unique.

Author Name - Mrunal Nawathe

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