Inclusive Marketing 101: Best Practices for Authentic & Diverse Campaigns


Julie Basque

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The Redefinition of Inclusive Marketing

Over the last decade, a plethora of literature has emphasized the essentiality and implementation of inclusive marketing, previously known as "multicultural" or "ethnic" marketing. Our guide redefines inclusive marketing as an approach that encompasses individuals from diverse backgrounds and demographic groups. It shatters preconceived notions about consumers and tells brand stories that are more truthful and representative by incorporating a diverse range of people. To achieve effective and genuine inclusive marketing, it's necessary to transcend conventional narratives about diverse groups and showcase the commonalities in our experiences and perspectives.

Intersectionality and Inclusive Marketing

By our definition, the central purposes of inclusive marketing are to reflect the accurate diversity of any given community, elevate the stories of people who have been typically underrepresented, and confront cultural biases that have been created by homogenous social narratives. 

Whereas terms like "multicultural marketing" and "ethnic marketing" suggest a narrow focus on specific racial or ethnic groups, inclusive marketing recognizes that each person is a unique and multifaceted individual, shaped by a multitude of intersecting identities. This concept, known as intersectionality, acknowledges that an individual's identity is a complex blend of factors such as race, gender, sexuality, disability, and cultural background. For example, a White, millennial, cisgender, and heterosexual man may also have a disability, neurodiversity, and a family with diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, all of which shape his worldview in unique ways. This highlights the fact that no two people share the exact same perspective on the world.

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Authentic Representation and Modern Consumers

As society becomes more diverse, modern consumers seek authentic and accurate representation. Inclusive marketing not only acknowledges and speaks to marginalized and underserved markets, but also recognizes the importance of intersectionality in today's world.

Inclusive Marketing as a Business Imperative

However, inclusive marketing is not just a matter of representation or doing the right thing. It is a business imperative. Organizations that can listen and respond authentically to diverse consumer groups will flourish in today's marketplace, while those that do not will be left behind.

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Guide to Inclusive Marketing Best Practices

This guide provides best practices and resources to help you get started on your journey towards inclusive marketing.

#1 - Make A Positive Social Impact

Inclusive marketing is a great way for your business to have a positive impact on society, attract new customers, keep existing ones, and increase revenue. But it's important to remember that marketing goals should not always be profit-driven. It's crucial to align your brand objectives with a more authentic marketing strategy that reflects the mission, vision, and values of your organization. 

Incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives into your marketing strategy can help your business achieve a triple bottom line impact that generates positive social and environmental change. While revenue and brand perception are important, creating positive conversations, increasing representation, and improving social awareness are also key to your brand's success.

To ensure that your inclusive marketing approach is authentic and purposeful, connect it with internal DEI initiatives. P&G's "Widen the Screen" video series is a great example of how to do this well. This marketing focus is supported by multiple behind-the-screen initiatives that amplify Black actors, directors, filmmakers, writers, producers, and more. The key takeaway is that your inclusive marketing should involve your target demographic in the creative process from start to finish, like P&G does with "Widen the Screen."

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#2 - Attract New Markets & Increase Brand Loyalty

Research shows that diverse advertisements can lead to immediate purchases for 64% of consumers and 34% consider a brand's commitment to diversity before making a purchase. Brands that represent diversity in their advertising are considered more authentic and trustworthy by 64% of people, according to Microsoft's industry briefing. Companies that address social inequities in their actions have 57% more loyal customers, and not representing identities in advertising has caused 34% of consumers to boycott a brand altogether! Brands with representative ads saw an average stock gain of 44%, and those with higher diversity scores had an 83% higher consumer preference, according to reports from The Heat Test and Deloitte. Inclusive marketing is a business imperative that can lead to positive actions by target consumers, as audiences resonate with content that reflects their lived experiences.

#3 - Improve Bottomline Results 

When companies have inclusive, authentic, and forward-thinking marketing, consumers respond positively. Studies from The Heat Test and Deloitte show that brands with the most representative ads saw a stock gain of 44%, and brands with the highest diversity scores had an 83% higher consumer preference. 83 percent!  Inclusion is essential for businesses because consumers want marketing content that reflects their lived experiences. This is called the "mirror strategy." The common factor within these stats - inclusion is a business imperative.

#4 - Use Inclusive Language 

Inclusive language is a crucial aspect of respectful communication and interaction with diverse individuals, including teammates, clients, and consumers. Using appropriate terms and phrases can not only attract and retain customers but also boost confidence in interactions with clients and partners. For effective implementation, The Diversity Movement’s white paper, "Say This, Not That: Activating Workplace Diversity Through Inclusive Language Practice," provides a comprehensive guide to inclusive language, including a thesaurus to help identify and replace unconscious, ingrained language habits with more respectful choices.

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#5 - Diversity within Imagery 

When selecting imagery for marketing purposes, it is important to remember that true diversity goes beyond race, gender, and sexual orientation. This includes including people of all ages, abilities, religions, languages, national origins, and family structures. Intersectionality, which recognizes the complexity of a person's identity, should also be taken into account. To ensure an authentic representation of diverse groups, it is important to conduct research and seek feedback from a diverse team. Avoid stereotyping and cultural appropriation by understanding and mitigating unconscious biases and including diverse reviewers and creatives in the creative process. Remember that each consumer is unique, and data-driven research can help break reliance on stereotypes.

#6 -  Resources/Approaches for Market Researc

To bring diversity to your team, consider working with external content creators who come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you can't find diverse talent - there are many talented and qualified creatives out there. You can start by searching for diverse creatives online, or by contacting organizations like HBCUs, LGBTQ+ chambers of commerce, or community colleges to connect with students and graduates. You can also use freelancing websites like Upwork and Fiverr to easily browse the profiles of candidates and assess whether their background, skills, and experiences match your needs.

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#7 - Connect with and invest in minority-owned businesses 

Do you know a first step toward supplier diversification is hiring multiple minority owned businesses to help you execute your strategy and/or campaigns.  This will help you tap into diverse perspectives, broaden reach and infuse financial resources into communities that have been historically underserved and underrepresented.  Some accredited resources are listed below for easy reference: (Minority owned directory) (WBENC Women owned businesses) (Nat’l LGBT Chamber) 

You can test campaigns prior to publication and to increase your cultural competency and knowledge of the target groups and it is recommended. 

Sources for article include:

Cision PR: