What is Inclusive Marketing?

The global market is becoming a more diverse place, one that is inclusive of more cultures as it matures. Inclusive marketing is content creation that reflects this new, global marketplace. Inclusive marketing balances its output based not only on the message in the marketing, but also with the voices that are relaying that message.

There is a responsibility that inclusive marketers have to resonate with people of all backgrounds. This includes people of various religions, ethnicity, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age and any other potentially divisive characteristic. There is something beyond diversity as well. Inclusive marketing has a unique power to bring the stories of underrepresented or misrepresented people to the forefront. Not only does this provide a new perspective, but it also introduces new customers into a commercial space.

The Importance of Inclusive Marketing

Millennials now represent the largest commercial market in the world. They control billions of dollars with a $69,000 median household income. Over the next three decades, they will eventually take over more than $30 trillion from Baby Boomers. They are also more attuned to companies with a social conscience. More than 70% of Millennials say that the social responsibility a brand shows weighs into the buying decision.

Modern marketing must have a multicultural strategy in order to function as a business growth catalyst. Inclusive marketing allows a company to look beyond profit and access this new audience in a consistent way, which eventually leads that audience to create profits for the business in question.

Principles of Inclusive Marketing

Although this is a relatively new term for the mainstream, inclusive marketing is mature enough to have a few key principles:

  • Tone – Inclusive marketing starts with tone, because the style in which a message is conveyed is more important here than anywhere. Prospects who find themselves turned off by a message that isn’t inclusive don’t need a reason to hate it. They will just take their dollars elsewhere.
  • Considering connotation – The underlying meaning in words can strengthen the relationship between business and prospect or it can destroy it. Inclusive marketing carefully considers the connotation of its phrases and symbols.
  • Multicultural representation – The visual representation of the multicultural audience is very important to modern business. People like to see themselves in the media they consume, and this includes ads.
  • Considering context – It is no longer a good idea to use a stock photo of a male boss hovering over a female employee in an ad. The implied power dynamics will turn off the modern woman, who is more powerful and commercially capable than ever before.
  • No appropriation – Marketing can no longer take from culture without giving the appropriate amount of respect to that culture. For instance, the Kardashians got a lot of flack for wearing cornrows in their social medial posts, a traditionally African-American hairstyle.
  • Countering stereotypes – Inclusive marketing gives companies a unique opportunity to use influence to reverse the standardized images of different cultures. Because the images used in marketing are so powerful, they can be a significant part in countering uncritical judgments about the images within them.

Traditional marketers may believe that taking any attention away from the profit motive will limit the success of a marketing campaign. The opposite is actually true. Inclusive marketing allows a company to reach out to a wider audience in a deeper way. Foregoing the profit motive in some cases is the best way to optimize towards it.

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