There's no denying diversity

Appreciating the extent and importance of the diversity of communities is the only way forward in an increasingly global market, and public relations has an essential role to play in achieving this.

For more than 30 years, the US has recognised that its melting pot of diverse communities has a huge amount of buying power and influence.

Because diversity is defined differently by industry, these groups cross the range of women, ethnic minorities, faith groups, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual (LGBT) people, the disabled and seniors.

To that end, most Fortune 1000 companies employ diversity directors, whose responsibilities span internal issues, such as ensuring a diverse employee and supplier base, to external issues, such as understanding the demographics of the company’s customer base, and targeting those groups in an appropriate manner, with relevant touchpoints.

These directors work with specialist diversity public relations and advertising agencies to plan and execute sophisticated, integrated marketing campaigns in the media in which the groups consume, as well as in their communities, at a grass-roots level. These aim to work synergistically with the ‘mainstream’ campaigns.

These campaigns engage diverse groups by showing a respect for, and understanding of, their interests and values, as well as their cultural and lifestyle differences. Diversity marketing budgets are often separate, specially allocated funds, rather than reallocations from the mainstream budgets.

In the UK, the power of these diverse groups has yet to be fully recognised. Many organisations have no clue who their ‘diverse’ stakeholders are, or how they should target them effectively.

As an example of spending power, the black and minority ethnic market has an estimated annual disposable income of £32bn, known as ‘the brown pound’. The LGBT ‘pink pound’ is worth £70bn, while the senior market’s ‘grey pound’ is worth £280bn.

Diversity marketing has made many uncomfortable in the UK. Arguments presented against the need for it have included ‘We don’t need to talk about diversity in this country’; ‘That’s just something used to make middle-class, straight, white men feel guilty’
and ‘It’s positive discrimination’.

Simply stated, all are incorrect. There is a definite business case for diversity marketing in the UK, and it’s time to embrace it and benefit from it. Research and improved market share have proven, on both sides of the Atlantic, that recognising these communities’ significant contribution to an economy shows a respect that leads to unprecedented brand loyalty.

The tide is slowly turning. Some UK companies have recognised the potential for this brand loyalty by employing diversity directors, and targeting certain communities due to their existing or potential influence as key stakeholders.

However, these recent efforts are only scratching the surface. It is time for the rest of the UK’s commercial and public sectors to establish the make-up of their stakeholder groups and think creatively about what they have to offer the diverse groups within; as well as how they can truly reflect the society they serve.

So, how to get started? Begin with a diversity audit: assess your website, advertising and DM, packaging and PR campaigns. Look at your employee, supplier, constituent and customer bases, and employ a diversity marketing expert to ask the difficult questions, as well as tell you the possibly painful truths about where you stand. If you don’t have this information, then start gathering it through market research.

Once you have analysed your information, then act. Change your website. Be more inclusive in your customer and employee marketing. Develop diversity campaigns that are planned and executed sensitively and correctly, or you risk achieving the exact opposite of your goals, and losing your diverse customers by alienating them. However, do not let the fear of getting it wrong lead to inertia.

Inertia is not an option because homogeneity in marketing can no longer continue to be seen as acceptable. Diversity is the only way forward if the UK is to successfully compete in an increasingly global market.

Zena Martin is founder and managing director of Acknowledge Communications


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA