Are You Meeting Consumer Expectations? Study Finds People Want Diversity In Advertising

Today’s U.S. consumers are more diverse than ever before. In fact, according to U.S. census projections, non-Hispanic whites will comprise 49.7% (compared to 76.6% in 2018) of the population by 2045, in contrast to 24.6% for Hispanics (8.1%), 13.1% for blacks (13.4%), 7.9 percent for Asians (5.8%), and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations (7%).

At a time when brands have access to so much data, trying to understand who their customers are and their buying preferences, these companies are finding it increasingly important to use that data to create a variety of messaging that a diverse population of people can relate to.

To dig deeper into the role that diversity and inclusion play in marketing and advertising today, we sat down with Toccara Baker, Product Marketing lead for Adobe Advertising Cloud in EMEA. Read on for her takes on the topic.

Why is it important for marketers to not just embrace diversity and inclusion in advertising but to also advance it?

It’s clear that diversity and inclusion in advertising isn’t where it should be in terms of the messaging and visuals that are being used. It’s still not showcasing the diverse world that we live in. A recent study that we did at Adobe proved that not only is diversity in advertising the right thing to do, it is actually something that consumers now expect.

Can you share some of the top-line findings of the study?

There were a lot of noteworthy finds, but generally speaking consumers overall feel that ads continue to lack diversity. For example, 55% of women said they feel that gender is still portrayed in stereotypical ways in advertising. With women driving 70-80% of all household purchasing, that’s a major miss for marketers.

Additionally, we found that LGBTQ2+ individuals want to see themselves more represented in advertising. What I found really interesting is that they also said it is impacting how they spend money. We’re seeing similar demands from the African American community, of which 55% said that they would stop supporting brands that fail to represent their identities in advertising.

What can executives do to advance diversity and inclusion in advertising?

Executives need to architect diverse teams. There needs to be diverse thinking from the ideation through to creation of advertising. You can’t have a monolithic team creating advertising within the confines of their own echo chamber. We’re all blind to what we don’t know – and that’s totally fair. That’s why it is important to have all different types of people in the room that can identify what might be interesting, valuable and even offensive to different types of consumers. If you’re not having those conversations happen during the creative process, then you’re going to find that consumers are going to have that conversation for you.

Yes, there have certainly been a few examples of brands being called out by consumers. What’s your advice for a brand that may have had a mishap? How do you bounce back from that?

Brands need to show consumers that they aren’t just talking about diversity and inclusion, they are taking action. You might remember the infamous Gucci sweater scenario. The brand was called out by consumers because a turtleneck from one of its clothing lines was found to be offensive by the black community. Instead of just issuing an apology, Gucci took action. The luxury brand announced “Gucci Changemakers,” a community fund and scholarship program to build on diversity-centric design hires for the company. And they even allocated funds towards it. That’s a real step towards change, because at the end of the day, they made a mistake and not only did they fess up to it, they actually took action to fix it.

What about from a technology perspective? How can marketers use technology—Adobe technology—to advance their diversity and inclusion in advertising?

Marketers that are leveraging Adobe Advertising Cloud can identify who their audience is through first-party data or second-party data. That means you can get a full view of who is engaging within your online site or who is being exposed to your advertising. Marketers can better understand how diverse their audience really is. With that information, marketers can create multiple variations of ads, to personalize creative and messaging to be able to connect to a diverse set of consumers.

_Get the full report about diversity in advertising and more from Adobe Digital Insights here.