By Sonali Dhawan, CEO, Asia Pacific Middle East & Africa Feminine Care Business, Procter & Gamble (India)
Businesses have the ability and duty to drive social change by developing products and business models that drive positive lifestyle and behavior changes. Within organizations, marketing departments have the power to shape how people think, feel, and act. As a result, it has the potential to be a powerful tool for promoting diversity and inclusion. Over the past few years, we have seen a significant shift in the way brands are approaching marketing. Successful brands are embracing the idea that diversity and inclusion are not only ethical imperatives but also good for business.
In image above: Sonali Dhawan, CEO, Asia Pacific Middle East & Africa Feminine Care Business, Procter & Gamble (India)
One of the most significant ways in which marketing is positively impacting diversity and inclusion is through representation. Brands are recognizing the importance of representing a wide range of people in their advertising and marketing materials. This includes people of different races, ethnicities, ages, genders, and abilities. By doing so, brands are sending a message that everyone is valued and deserving of respect and equal opportunity. Representation also has the power to shape perceptions and break down stereotypes. When people see themselves reflected in marketing materials, they are more likely to feel seen and heard. They are also more likely to view the brand in a positive light and be more receptive to its message.
For example, in many markets, developed and emerging, marketing has played a significant role in advancing feminine hygiene and promoting better health and well-being for women around the world. Through effective marketing campaigns, feminine hygiene products have been destigmatized and normalized, and women have been empowered to take control of their menstrual health and hygiene. This is only one of the many success stories from the world of marketing. Always, for example, drove an award-winning ‘Not Hot Period Award’, capitalizing on the unique challenges faced by women in Saudi Arabia. The collaboration with Saudi fashion designer Nasiba Hafiz resulted in the first designer period wear and the introduction of the world’s coolest fabric in one of the hottest places in the world.
Another way that marketing is promoting diversity and inclusion is through targeted campaigns. Brands are recognizing that different communities have diverse needs and preferences and are tailoring their marketing accordingly. For example, a beauty brand might create a campaign that speaks specifically to women of color, acknowledging the unique challenges they face when it comes to finding products that work for their skin type. By designing tailored campaigns targeted towards specific communities, brands are not only better able to meet their consumer needs but are also demonstrating that they understand and value them. This can help build trust and foster a sense of community and belonging. This in turn leads to a greater dialogue on diversity and inclusion in communities.
This outward consumer-led exercise also plays a significant role in promoting diversity and inclusion behind the scenes. Brands are recognizing the importance of diversity in their own teams and are actively working to create more inclusive workplaces. This includes hiring practices that prioritize diversity and inclusion, as well as policies and initiatives that support employees from diverse backgrounds. By creating more diverse and inclusive teams, teams are better equipped to create marketing campaigns that resonate with a wide range of people. They are also more likely to make decisions that take into account the perspectives and needs of different communities.
Its also good business
Brands are recognizing that they have a responsibility to use their platforms to promote dialogue on important social issues, including diversity and inclusion. By aligning themselves with such causes, brands are not only doing the right thing but also contributing to a better world. To make a meaningful contribution to a country’s wider social objectives, brands must think globally and act locally. As consumers increasingly expect brands to reflect their interests and values, localization of marketing campaigns is gaining importance. Localization of marketing campaigns involves tailoring the brand's message to fit the specific cultural, linguistic, and social norms of a particular region or community. This approach helps brands to connect with consumers on a deeper level and build long-lasting relationships with them.
According to a survey conducted by Google in collaboration with Kantar, the emotional moments people encounter along the path to purchase are turning points for trust and key opportunities for brands to alleviate people's emotional tensions. A whopping 91% concur that they would purchase from brands that provide trustworthy information and 91% of people agree that they would purchase from brands that made them feel empowered or confident to make a good decision.
This shift in perspective is a result of an ongoing more collaborative approach to social impact and a willingness of marketers to share responsibility with ecosystem partners across the entire value chain. By seeing themselves as the glue and advocate between the larger ecosystem, customers, and their company, they will be able to inspire relevant, resonant innovation through the brands they lead, ensuring a better future for all.
As the conduit between consumers and the organization, the marketing function is uniquely positioned to influence consumer behaviors; it can also drive and direct innovation within the brand contributing to positive social outcomes.