Can Diversity in your Marketing Pay Dividends?

Good marketing always seeks to engage the audience emotionally. Why? Because emotions evoke feelings and feelings often move people to action. And let’s face it, marketing is about getting people to take action. Whether it’s clicking on a link to download your white paper or ordering a pair of shoes, marketers want their audience to do something as a result of the marketing message.

The “Diversity Dividend”

In a new report prepared by System1, brands that approach diversity strategically can benefit from the “diversity dividend.” Their research indicates that the effective use of diversity is not about going overboard in attempts to be diverse or in creating different messages for every diversity group. Instead, the report shows that different groups respond to singular messages that include diversity in much the same way.

A Uniting Effect?

The study also indicated that diverse groups not only responded similarly to the message but were actually united in their reaction to the message and the idea being communicated. For example, in Nike’s “toughest athletes” commercial, which features strong mothers engaging in very rigorous training programs, everyone in the study had the same emotional reaction – no matter their race or whether they were mothers or parents.

The report suggests that advertising that is inclusive is not only good for society but good for business.

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Nothing to See Here

Did this research really present us with a new breakthrough in advertising and messaging? Not really. It all comes back to the keys to effective messaging – telling compelling stories truthfully and authentically to cause a particular emotional reaction. And when that happens, we know that the result is a good feeling that creates a positive association with the brand.

It’s Got To Be Real

In order to make diversity work in your messaging, it must be real. Consumers are well trained in spotting tokenistic attempts at sincerity. Authenticity matters when it comes to representing various groups of people. Equally important here is to make sure that the message is not one-sided. Addressing specific issues with hard-hitting messages or depicting only painful circumstances will tilt the emotional scale too far. There is a difference between “entertaining” and “campaigning.” Don’t cross that line.

Feelin’ Alright

This report definitely makes a strong argument for the effectiveness of meaningful diversity in advertising and communications. By being more inclusive, you widen the circle of people who feel like they have been “seen,” and we know that when that happens, they feel good. And that brings us back to effective marketing evoking the right emotions and associations. There’s a great quote by John Harrison, Managing Partner of BBH London (Bartle, Bogle, Hegarty), that seems like a fitting way to end: “If you want to speak to everyone, speak to someone.”

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