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Veleisa Burrell

Diversity Marketing Can Expand Brand Influence

Diversity MarketingWith Valentine’s Day gone, the season of mass holiday consumerism that begins around Thanksgiving (though it’s pushing back to Halloween) and continues through the spring comes to a close. From costumes to gifts, Americans spend $6.9 billion on Halloween, $600 billion over the winter holidays and $17.3 billion on Valentine’s Day (National Retail Foundation, 2013), with diversity marketing becoming a bigger factor each year. As we know, consumers are not buying just in brick-and-mortar stores anymore. Decision makers are finding new products through online influencers, social media advertisements and shares, as well as digital advertisements – all channels that are strongly driven by visual content.

The Optics of Diversity Marketing

While digital communicators can tell us the latest on algorithms, strategy and tactics, and the latest hot social media channel for Millennials, there is a looming blind spot when it comes to the content itself: diversity. If you browse the most popular stock photo sites, you’ll notice that people of color are rarely featured. Yet, research has shown buyers are more likely to identify with someone that looks like them.

Speaking from my own experience, I was pleasantly surprised to see a commercial for Marriott Rewards featuring two women of color vacationing in Venice. I have been considering a European vacation for some time, and now Marriott is on my radar from that commercial alone. The advertisement demonstrated to me, both as a consumer and a social media expert, that the brand understands that all consumers are worthy of inclusion in their campaigns.

How to Encourage Diversity Marketing in Your Organization

Despite the understood monetary boost that follows from highlighting minorities in advertisements, companies are still behind the times in representing ethnic and cultural diversity. Therefore, it is on the communications teams to raise a hand and help leadership recognize that there is much to be gained, in both reputation and financial gains, by diversifying the images used on digital messaging. Here are three tips on how to be the difference needed in marketing and diversify your messages and images in campaigns:

1. Bring in Additional Voices

Marketing tends to be a very insular, who-knows-who world, which can create an echo chamber. Whether you bring in an organized focus group or ask a team member from another department to weigh in, getting outside perspective can help raise red flags that may be overlooked by like-minded people.

2. Find New Sources for Photos and Illustrations for Emails and Social Media

In my work, I’ve come across several sites that offer free and paid photo packages featuring diverse models: Colorstock, Offset by Shutterstock, CreateHER Stock. Surprisingly, I was not able to find a resource for Latinx stock images similar to these sites; if you know of resources for these images, please let me know in the comments below.

3. Start Thinking Beyond Racial and Ethnic Diversity

Include images with a diversity of displayed abilities, ages, and sexual identity.

Diversity Marketing by the Numbers

Change may be challenging but consider this: 2050 census projections are predicting that 54 percent of the American population will be minorities (30 percent Hispanic, 9 percent Asian and 15 percent African-American/Black) and 88.5 million Americans will be age 65 or older. We have to get with the times or get left behind, and it starts now.

How is your brand diversifying digital marketing? Share with us in the comments below!

Veleisa Burrell

Veleisa Burrell loves a good story, which inspired her career in communication. When she's not reading a Twitter thread or working on a customer relations project, she's teaching fitness classes.

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