The pandemic caused consumers to shift their expectations more rapidly than ever seen before. People began to reevaluate their responsibilities and priorities when it came to where they worked, who they knew, and the products they bought.
This shift was noticed prominently in consumer purchase choices. In 2020 more consumers wanted retailers to be more authentic to their brand and demonstrate sensitivity and care for different communities. Consumers wanted to spend money on brands that aligned with their values.
Adobe conducted a survey in 2020 of 1,000 adults to determine the impact of diversity in advertising among consumers. They found that 62% of respondents said that a brand's diversity, or lack of it, impacts their perception of their products or services. One-third of respondents said they have ceased to use a brand that did not represent their identity in its advertising.
Inclusive marketing is when a brand creates marketing materials that reflect the diversity of the real world, thereby including people of all backgrounds. People who have been historically underrepresented or stereotypically portrayed, including females, racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and multicultural and LGBTQ individuals.
Brands that have successfully embodied inclusive marketing have succeeded because they reflect reality, show variety, and practice what they preach.
Advertising is the most common form of selling a product or service and because of this people encounter them nonstop. Although there are no exact figures for 2021, it is said that on average a person sees between 6,000 to 10,000 ads a day.
Savage X Fenty by Rihanna is a great example of inclusive marketing.
Victoria's Secret, another lingerie company, has been around for a long time. Many women recognize and love it, however, in 2019 the company received lots of backlash for comments about refusing to include women of different shapes and sizes in its popular Victoria's Secret fashion show.
Despite casting 19 women of color and its first model with vitiligo for its 2018 fashion show, it was seen as a brand that only catered to a narrow population of women. Following this Victoria's Secret was perceived to represent an outdated standard of beauty that was not inclusive of all body types and lacked diversity.
The lack of inclusivity in the brand led to the decline of Victoria’s Secrets’ sales, shares, and show ratings by the millions.
Savage X Fenty, a lingerie brand that launched in May 2018, has been recognized as a leader in diversity and inclusion. It is said that Rihanna's brand managed to do from the start what many brands struggle with--appealing to everyone.
In the Savage X Fenty brand the models represent people from every walk of life. They are Black, White, albino, pregnant, plus-sized, men, women, young, old, disabled, and transgender.
Savage X Fenty’s inclusive marketing led to it selling out one month after its launch and making over $570 million in its first 15 months in business.
"We don't believe in division. We do not believe in excluding anyone,” Rihanna said. “That's been our message from day one and it's not going to change now because everyone is having that realization."
Other brands are reevaluating and rebranding to incorporate more inclusive marketing.
Victoria's Secret recently relaunched their brand in July.
"Victoria’s Secret has undergone a revolutionary transformation from the inside out to become a brand that welcomes, celebrates and advocates for all women. The transformation started internally with changes to our company culture, including a new leadership team and female-led Board of Directors, and is visible externally in our stores, online platforms, in the way we engage with our customers and beyond," says a Victoria's Secret representative when asked to comment.
"This is just the beginning of our journey though. We’re focused on the future and the value we can bring to our customers," says Victoria's Secret representative.