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Inclusive marketing - more than just a passing trend?

2020 has been an important and pivotal year for diversity and inclusion. Our society has witnessed a shift in perception and communication that addresses underrepresented communities. And the time has come for more brands and companies to weave diversity and inclusion into their DNA.

So, what is inclusive marketing?

Let us take a step back and start with the meaning of inclusiveness. Cambridge Dictionary defines it as "the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those having physical or mental disabilities or belonging to other minority groups."

Inclusive marketing refers to messaging, stories, and campaigns that address the global population in its entirety by embracing diverse identities and backgrounds. It helps companies show that they care about their audience. It helps reduce cultural biases, break stereotypes, and highlights underrepresented or misrepresented communities.

Beyond skin color and gender

Inclusive marketing is a careful, thoughtful process that often takes time and effort. It is not something that is achieved overnight. It requires companies to reflect on weaving inclusiveness into its cultural fabric. Inclusive marketing is not just about using the right stock images, but about a company's commitment to diversity and inclusion. It is about how a company connects with its audience. It calls for a deep dive into audience research, a sound definition of the customer experience, and a cohesive brand style guide.

Adjusting your marketing strategy

To stay abreast of market trends and technologies, companies need to keep adjusting their marketing strategies. According to Michael P. Krone's paper on "Diversity Marketing and Cultural Awareness," if your customers are different from you, and if they feel unrecognized, you will begin to lose them. Companies must ensure that their marketing campaigns addresses target communities and customers, and marketing experts should ensure that the strategy is malleable to serve underrepresented and underserved communities.

Address the bottom line

Inclusive marketing provides an excellent opportunity for brands to tap into potential demographics and helps expand market reach. Brands that are respectful and considerate connect on a more substantial level with existing customers. Campaigns that highlight inclusion help connect on a more emotional level that boosts customer loyalty. According to Accenture's 2018 study on Holiday Shopping, 70% of Millennials prefer to choose brands that demonstrate diversity and inclusion in its offers and promotions over brands that do not. Take Rihanna's Fenty Beauty brand that caters to women of all skin tones. She introduced 40 different shades that revolutionized the beauty industry; her brand gained trust along with 100 million US$ in the first forty days of launch.

Not just a trend

If companies want to stay ahead in the competitive game and want to surface as a leader in today's world of instant interaction, inclusive marketing should take center stage. However, inclusiveness goes beyond marketing and should not be just a tick box to check on a list. It is a culture that each company should strive to adopt. Reducing inclusion to a mere trend is a bit diminutive. Today's always-online and in-sync generation of customers are looking for authentic brands that embrace the diversity and inclusion movement.

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