Diversity is a hot-button issue. The country is moving towards a more multicultural environment, with diverse audiences possessing significant buying power. It’s important for brands and marketers to recognize this immense potential. Embracing diversity is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best decision you can make for your business. Ignoring diversity means you’re leaving money on the table. While many brands recognize they should be embracing diverse audiences, there is also a disconnect in the “how” of it. No one wants to feel like they’re being exploited at the hands of some marketing department; instead, we want to feel like we authentically belong to a larger community. How do you walk the fine line?
DO find a natural fit: Tommy Hilfiger was recently quoted as saying that he made the mistake of chasing a trend when he changed his marketing to cater primarily to urban hip-hop culture. Because of this, he forgot what his brand was truly about, and when influencers in the hip-hop community abandoned Hilfiger in favor of creating their own brands, he was left with a severely altered brand and no one to sell it to. Hilfiger’s problem was that he didn’t approach his marketing in an authentic way. He equated hip-hop with African-American and went after that population, rather than looking for the people of color who would have worn his clothes or been attracted to his clothes in the first place. Don’t force your round brand into a square hole. Look for a natural fit.
DON’T flip-flop: Unfortunately, building an inclusive audience can sometimes be met with criticism or ignorance. Stand strong in your conviction. A recent Honeywell commercial drew sharp criticism for including same-sex couples. Instead of backpedaling or softening their stance, Honeywell released another commercial, doubling down on their position that love is love.
DO go where your audience is: Develop different strategies to approach your community. For example, African-American, Latino, and Asian-American users make up 41% of Twitter’s total United States user base. Instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach, brands can now create different strategies to attract different types of consumers, using the tools and platforms already familiar to those consumers.
DON’T make sweeping generalizations: The social media team over at ABC got into some hot water recently when promoting their new show, Fresh Off The Boat. They tweeted the image below along with the copy, “The world is full of different hats.” While the message is true, the approach was not the best. They received a lot of backlash for basically reducing different ethnic groups down to their most basic stereotype.
In the end remember to start small with what you have. Maybe it’s using more diverse imagery in your advertising and branding or maybe it’s specifically reaching out to influencers within a more diverse population who are already using your product. Focus on who is already using your products and why. And then communicate with them in exactly the way they want to be spoken to. Invite them on in.