Advertisers Plan Greater Focus on DE&I in Marketing Strategies

August 19, 2022

US CMOs in the past have said that diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a greater organizational than marketing priority at their firms, with survey data indicating that companies aren’t doing that well when it comes to changing marketing strategies to reach a more diverse set of customers. That may change, per a recent report [download page] from Matterkind.

More than 9 in 10 advertisers surveyed in the US and UK said that reducing bias and discrimination in marketing and advertising is a priority for them, with 44% share calling this a “core focus,” and another 49% a “secondary focus.”

Although people want more inclusivity in marketing and advertising – with a majority of consumers under the age of 55 in the US surveyed by Matterkind agreeing that it’s important for advertising to reach a diverse and representative audience – the report notes the need for “a holistic approach to diversity, equity and inclusion” that goes beyond just creative.

So while the focus has mostly been on creative over the past 3 years – the majority (54%) of advertisers report having focused on adapting creative to ensure representation of different groups – in the coming 3 years more advertisers will prioritize DE&I initiatives in marketing strategies.

To wit, 64% said that they will focus on adapting strategies to address under-represented groups in the next 3 years, a 23% point rise from the 41% who said they had done so in the previous 3 years.

As such, marketing strategy will vault from the least-prioritized to most-prioritized area of DE&I priority over the next 3 years, per the report.

Advertisers will also be paying more attention to addressing internal diversity: 57% noted this as a focus in the next 3 years, compared to 46% who focused on this in the previous 3 years.

This widespread organizational focus should help also protect against “value-washing,” as the report’s authors point out that “it is also important that brands’ DEI efforts reflect their ethos and values, rather than opportunistically trying to establish relevance.”

Other Findings:

  • US consumers ages 35-44 are the most likely to see the importance of ads reaching a diverse and representative audience (67%), followed by respondents ages 25-34 (63%) and 16-24 (56%). Those ages 55-65 (38%) are the least likely to agree.
  • Half of consumers ages 16-65 in the US and UK agree that if an advert is diverse and representative, it’s more likely that they will recommend the product or service to their friends/family.
  • Some 36% of consumer respondents in the US and UK have boycotted a brand because of issues with diversity and representation.
  • More than 9 in 10 advertisers are confident that they understand what people want as regards DE&I. About half (48%) conduct primary research to arrive at this understanding, although fewer (26%) use external advisors or partners to help them with their strategies.

About the Data: Matterkind surveyed 100 advertisers across the US and UK, 3,000 US consumers ages 16-65 and 1,000 UK consumers ages 16-65.

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