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This Expert Shares Why Inclusive Brand Marketing Doesn’t Need To Include Everyone

What is inclusive marketing, and what does it entail? You may have heard about it but are unsure of how you can use a global creative…
This Expert Shares Why Inclusive Brand Marketing Doesn’t Need To Include Everyone
Inclusive Marketing Expert Sonia Thompson

What is inclusive marketing, and what does it entail? You may have heard about it but are unsure of how you can use a global creative services platform like Storyhunter to discover and hire professionals to help build your authentic marketing strategy. So, let’s get to it: Inclusive marketing refers to creating content that reflects the diverse communities that companies serve but as inclusive marketing strategist Sonia Thompson shares, inclusive marketing doesn’t have to include everybody. Read on to understand what she means and get insight on three ways your brand, big or small, can start delivering one-of-a-kind customer experiences that propel growth.

Deepen your degree of customer intimacy

Customer intimacy is a critical component of an inclusive marketing strategy. But first, you need to determine who you want to serve. “A common misconception about inclusive marketing means that you have to include everybody, and that’s not it at all,” Sonia said. “We don’t want people to feel excluded; however, thinking that you have to include everybody, especially if you don’t have the resources, is a very tall order, and it can make people feel stuck and not move forward.”

Once you have defined who you want to include, you can focus on customer intimacy, which is about getting to know your customers on a deeper, more personal level. It means listening to your customers and resolving their problems with your product or service.

With the launch of its BODEQUALITY, American retailing company Old Navy democratized the shopping experience for women of all sizes. They not only introduced size equality meaning “no more digging around in the special section or not being able to shop with your BFFs,” according to the video above, but also price equality, so all styles and sizes are the same prices. Stores also displayed mannequins in sizes four, 12, and 18 alongside new BODEQUALITY marketing imagery.

So, how did they do it? “We started by listening to you and what you want out of our clothes,” said Ada Tancinco, director of technical design at Gap Inc.

Diversify your circle of influence

If you want to connect with diverse audiences, spend time expanding your network, for example, partnering with different organizations or professional creatives from all corners of the globe.

Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz came under fire for her Vogue cover of African American Olympian champion gymnast Simone Biles. “People hated it. They felt like the lighting was terrible. The styling was terrible. She didn’t know how to adjust it to a black woman,” Sonia explained. Critics lambasted Vogue for not hiring a black photographer.

Olympian champion gymnast Simone Biles on the cover of Vogue

Contrast this with Beyoncé’s cover for Vogue’s 2018 September issue. Beyoncé hand-selected her photographer Tyler Mitchell, who became the first African American photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue in its 125-year-history.

American singer Beyoncé on the cover of Vogue’s September Issue

Sonia describes Beyoncé’s Vogue cover as “grand.” In fact, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery added it to its permanent collection in Washington, D.C. Tyler Mitchell told Vogue that the Beyoncé shoot was an opportunity for empowerment. “For so long, black people have been considered things. We’ve been thingified physically, sexually, emotionally. With my work I’m looking to revitalize and elevate the black body.”

But representation for the sake of it is not enough: think about diversifying your brand at every level.

“Brands are run by people. As people in general, we have very homogenous networks. As a result, we hang out with people who look like us, talk like us, think like us, and watch the same shows. We enjoy the same ads,” Sonia said.

Looking for a creative professional to help build your inclusive marketing strategy? Get started on Storyhunter.

“So, when it comes time to think about the plight of other people who are different from you, it becomes much more difficult to do that because you’re so used to one way of being and are convinced that your way of being is the way.”

Focus on customer experience

A seamless customer experience is about making those you have decided to include in your business strategy feel like they belong. Instead of offering a disjointed experience, you want people to feel like you get them.

Sprinkles Cupcakes is the world’s first cupcake bakery, with locations across the United States. They serve customers with particular dietary restrictions: those who are vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free. The best part about the experience is that their gluten-free cupcakes “taste like normal cupcakes,” Sonia says.

The company also introduced the Cupcake ATM, “where you can get a freshly-baked Sprinkles cupcake any time of the day or night.”

“The specialty cupcakes are still available in the Cupcake ATM. So it never feels like, as a gluten-free person, a vegan or as a person who is sugar-free, that you were an afterthought,” Sonia explains. “Maybe you don’t have everything available to you. That is just part of it sometimes, but we considered you. And we considered you enough to deliver a topnotch experience, not a substandard one, in the process of serving you.”

When it comes to customer experience, you need to put money where your mouth is, Sonia says, and show customers that you share their values.

By Shivan Sarna, Head of Stories