What does DEI mean for your brand? image

What Does DEI Mean for Your Brand?

Christine Drummond - photo

by Christine Drummond

Vice President

Marketers are watching closely how consumers want brands to respond to the key events of the last few years—the national unrest over racial inequity, the disproportionate effect of the pandemic on minorities, and the #MeToo movement. Brands are at a huge crossroads when it comes to designing initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). How can brands reflect DEI values in an authentic and meaningful way to consumers? The decision tree in doing so is complex and varies greatly between brands.

Let’s take a minute to consider why DEI really matters for brand marketers. Simply put, consumers want to see brands acknowledge that people are different. The differences include, but are not limited to, gender, age, race, sexual orientation, economic status, and physical and mental abilities. Some people use the three terms that make up DEI interchangeably, but there are key distinctions between them that are important for marketers to understand:

  • Diversity ensures that a marketer includes everyone, and that products and communications reach a diverse target group.
  • Equity means being fair to everyone in your audience by ensuring offers reach everyone. If you only advertise on social media, for example, you may not reach certain populations.
  • Inclusion gives everyone has the same opportunity to participate in the offer, such as ensuring a visually impaired person can read the offer or acknowledging different religious traditions around the holidays.

How can brands reflect DEI values in an authentic and meaningful way to consumers? The decision tree in doing so is complex and varies greatly between brands.”

DEI is more than a brand identity and perception issue for consumers—it ties into purchase intent and sales growth. A survey of more than 3,000 U.S. consumers revealed that people are more likely to purchase a product if they consider that brand diverse and inclusive:

  • 64% were moved to action after seeing a diverse and inclusive ad.
  • 69% of Black consumers say they are more likely to purchase from brands with advertising that positively reflects their race/ethnicity.
  • 71% of LGBTQ consumers said they are more likely to interact with an online ad that authentically represents their sexual orientation.

Consumers think more positively about a brand when it takes a stand on DEI. This builds a positive brand perception and increases purchase intent, loyalty, and brand growth. A recent Deloitte survey shows that that high-growth brands (defined as those with annual revenue growth of 10% or more) are more frequently establishing key performance metrics for diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives than their lower-growth competitors.

Consumers think more positively about a brand when it takes a stand on DEI.”

Here are some questions to ask about your brand’s commitment to DEI:

  • Are you reaching and serving as diverse of a population as you are intending with your brand or product? If not, how can you broaden appeal?
  • Do consumers have underlying, perhaps even subconscious associations with your products, services, or offerings that make them appeal more to certain groups?
  • Is your team thinking bigger than just race and ethnicity, but considering inclusivity as it relates to gender, sexual orientation, religion, body type, socio-economic status, handicaps, etc.?
  • Are your research studies accurately capturing how consumers self-identify in terms of race and ethnicity, given the demographic shifts that require more multicultural research?
  • Are you building offers that are accessible to a diverse audience especially in email and online marketing?
  • Do your communications highlight people from all backgrounds and in an authentic manner? (Think people of color (POC), Gens X, Y, Z, Baby Boomers, LBGTQIA, etc.)
  • Does your media plan incorporate diverse channels to reach the widest possible audience and ensure that everyone has the equal access to your offer?
  • Are you empowering underrepresented groups in your product or social support campaigns?

Now more than ever, marketers are expected to design products, services, and programs through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Do you know what stance your brand should take? Have you created a DEI strategic framework that will meet the expectations of your consumers?

Want to talk more about your brand’s DEI approach?

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