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Horowitz Impact Diversity in Ads on Purchases Feb2020While multicultural media spending is growing, it is a small fraction of overall spend and far from proportional to the populations it is meant to target. It certainly seems as though marketers are missing out: a new report from Horowitz Research reminds that diversity in advertising can have a positive impact on the purchase decisions of multicultural consumers.

Earlier research from Adobe found that a brand’s diversity impacts three out of 5 (62%) adult consumers’ perception of its products or services. As might be expected, representing the cultures and lifestyles of Hispanics, Asians and African-Americans in advertising has a much greater positive than negative impact on purchase decisions for adults that identify with those groups (+50% net impact).

This positive impact on purchase decisions is not exclusive to members of multicultural groups. Ads that show mix-raced couples and families, as well as ads with both Spanish and English on English-language TV, also have a positive impact on the overall public (+31% net impact and +19% net impact, respectively.)

Is the Ad Industry Showing it Cares?

Some 23% of multicultural consumers feel that they are being ignored by the ad industry, with African-American (29%) and Asian (25%) consumers being more likely to feel this way than Hispanic consumers (19%). That said, African-American consumers (31%) are more likely to agree that the advertising industry goes out of its way to resonate with them than are Hispanic (28%) and Asian (17%) consumers. This could be because TV advertisers increased their ad spend targeting African-American audiences several years ago, when shows containing mostly African-American casts experienced a surge in popularity.

That said, multicultural consumers appear to be split when it comes to whether seeing people of their race or ethnicity in a company’s advertising makes them feel like the company cares about them. Indeed, close to the same proportions of African-American (35%), Asian (31%) and Hispanic (30%) consumers say that seeing people of the same race and ethnicity in advertising has no bearing on whether they feel a company cares about them as do those who feel it shows a company cares about them (33%, 25% and 33%, respectively).

Support for Diversity

Two in 5 (43%) consumers say that ads don’t have to feature people that are of the same race or ethnicity to resonate with them. Of note, nearly half (48%) of White consumers agreed with this statement, while only 17% agree that ads that feature White consumers resonate more with them than ads that do not.

Although one-quarter (25%) of consumers say that ads portraying diversity are just trying to be politically correct, a larger share (38%) say that ads that portray diverse, multicultural people in them are reflecting the true essence of the United States.

It is also worth noting that the report found that companies’ support for multicultural, as well as low-income and LGBTQ, communities, have a positive impact on purchase decisions.

The full report can be accessed here.

About the Data: Findings are based on an online survey of 1,404 US adults (18+) fielded in September 2019.

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