Why Diversity in Ads is More Important Than Ever for Revenue

Thu Feb 08 2018
Terilyn Walker
Best Practices

Have you heard that mainstream brand Revolve is under fire after releasing their new campaign? Consumers are finally fed up with the lack of diversity in the brand’s ads. Consumers expressed their anger with the brand via social media, some even going so far as spamming Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #RevolveSoWhite.

It’s 2018, but many marketers are still taking one too many tips from Don Draper’s brilliant, but outdated, marketing strategy. Being undiversified in ads is the old way of marketing. Different messages resonate with different audiences. In order to avoid becoming the next #fail, or leaving money on the table by not appealing to wide range of audience it is important to understand why diversity in advertisements matters and how to diversify your content.

 

First, it’s important to understand that diversity is not limited to race. Diversity means the inclusion of people of all races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, social classes, economic classes, and the list goes on. Sephora recently launched a campaign that was a drastic change from their traditional ads featuring professional models with “conventional beauty.” Instead, the beauty powerhouse chose 10 of their diverse employees in order to demonstrate, according to InStyle, “a shift in focus on embracing individuality rather than selling this year's gift sets, and it falls in line with the number of brands who have made strides recently to be more inclusive with both their product offerings and campaign imagery.”

Sephora is not alone, Inclusivity is impacting brand image and marketing campaigns right now, and more and more brands are standing for diversity and inclusion. According to Newscred, in a recent survey of U.S. marketers:

  • 88% agreed with the statement, “Using more diverse images helps a brand’s reputation.”
  • 41% agreed it is important to represent modern day society in marketing imagery
  • 33.9% said they’ve used more “racially diverse models”
  • 21.4 percent said they used more images featuring “nonprofessional models” in the last 12 months
  • 8.6% said they used more images during the past 12 months featuring a “nontraditional family,” while 10.6% used more images featuring same-sex couples
  • 10.2% used more images featuring people with disabilities.
  • Of these people, up to 83% pointed to better representing modern society as the reason
  • Over 91% of U.S. marketers agree with the statement “there is still room for growth in using more diverse images by marketers.”

Why diversity in advertisements matters

Besides the fact that it’s the right thing to do, from a business perspective, diversity in advertisements has the potential to generate tangible benefits.

Appeal to new markets with huge spending power

Don’t overlook the influence and spending power of minority groups in America. For example, according to Nielsen, the spending power of African Americans is projected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2020 and the buying power of the LGBTQ+ community has already reached $917 billion, a rise of about 3.7% within a year.  

Not only do minority groups have huge spending power, but these groups are tightly knit communities that have influence among their peers on social media. The influence that Black millennials in particular have on their peers and in the media is continuing to increase.

For example, after discovering that ethnic women spend a considerable amount of money on hair products, luxury haircare brand, Ovation Hair, decided to test this niche market, which was different from the profile of the influencers they used previously. The brand’s partnerships with ethnic beauty gurus exceeded their performance expectations, driving over 18k website visits and making them  “the best performing influencers that Ovation has ever worked with”, according to their social media manager.

Increase revenue

New markets equals new streams of revenue. For example, Fenty Beauty, a cosmetics brand founded by Rihanna and claiming to be “the new generation of beauty,” launched 40 shades of foundation for men and women of all complexions. In the makeup world, a launch this extensive, especially for a new brand, is typically unheard of.

In the first month of it’s launch, the brand saw $72 million in earned media value,  and over 132 million views on YouTube. To the surprise of other cosmetic companies, the foundation colors on both sides of the light and dark spectrum sold out first. People of very light complexions, like those with albinism, as well as those with very deep skin tones do not have access to appropriately colored products in most other brands of makeup, and therefore turned to Fenty for their cosmetic needs.  

Consumers of all shades expressed their delight with the Fenty Beauty’s foundation shade range by making it the second-best selling foundation at Sephora. Since Fenty Beauty’s impressive launch took social media by storm, brands like Kylie Cosmetics and Too Faced Cosmetics have followed suit by expanding their foundation shade ranges.

Increase and protect your brand’s reputation

When a brand goes out of its way to represent diversity and inclusion, the support from consumers will be evident. “Customers realize that inclusive ads can be risky and will go far to support brands that share similar values.”  says God-is Rivera,  associate director of social media at digital marketing and advertising agency VML.

On the other hand, in this age of social media, everyone can make their voice heard, and when consumers are upset with a brand, their opinion will be heard.  For example, consumers of all races recently voiced their disappointment with Tarte Cosmetics after the company released a foundation with only three options for people with darker skin.

Remember that different messages and images speak to different people, especially on social media. Companies achieve a lot of their success by tightly defining and then targeting each of  their markets individually.

 

Why some brands are turning to influencer marketing to diversify their content

It is authentic

Consumers love to see images of people who are like them. Who better to create content than real consumers, aka influencers? Hopefully, we’ve all learned from the Pepsi commercial scandal. You can’t fake diversity. Your audience will see right through it and you’ll end up worse than when you started. Furthermore, don’t portray yourself as an inclusive and diverse brand if you only choose to cater to a select group of people. However, if your brand is genuinely interested in expanding its diversity and reach, there is no better way than to work with real people from different walks of life.

 

It’s scalable

Influencers are always creating content, and unlike studio shot content, influencer generated content does not require much time and energy to create–making it easy and economical to source large amounts of it. Traditional content creation processes could never keep up with consumers’ demand for fresh, diverse content. Professional photo shoots are time consuming and expensive, and many times smaller brands do not have access to a diverse group of professional models.  

 

Influencers already have a built-in audience

By partnering with influencers of different ages, ethnic background etc, you are able to reach different parts of your clientele.  Influencers already have a built-in and dedicated audience, who often times are similar in demographics to the influencer.  Their followers look to them specifically for recommendations on products and services. If an influencer speaks highly of your brand or product, rest assured their audience will follow.

 

In part two of this post, we’ll give you two examples of brands that used influencer marketing to diversify their content.

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