What’s even better than diversity? Inclusion
Kevin HearnDirector of Strategy
As marketers, we’re often guilty of grouping people into simplistic categories. Ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) vs the middle class, Millennials vs Baby Boomers. But where once we could allow a two-dimensional persona to represent all UHNWIs (old white guy), happily, today’s society is very different. UHNWIs are young and old, of differing ethnicity and gender, in short, they’re a whole lot more diverse. To be truly inclusive, financial brands need to recognise that each individual wants, and deserves to be, represented. One-size-fits-all is no longer acceptable.
Until recently, minority groups of all kinds have largely been served the same messaging and the same media as everyone else. Frequently, these individuals saw little of themselves in the public world, from television shows to billboards, magazine ads to the national news. And the same was true of financial marketing.
That wasn’t (only) a case of unacknowledged biases, it’s also because segmentation is largely done on the basis of socio-economic status. We divide by age (or ‘life stage’) and disposable income levels. Only sometimes, although more frequently these days, are gender or geographic location layered in. This arbitrary grouping tactic may suit us marketers, but does it suit our audience?
Society is constantly evolving and we are in a place now where more and more people feel empowered to be who they are or who they want to be. And they want to see people like them represented and reflected in the brands they choose.
This isn’t just about meeting needs of the growing ranks of wealthy women or the successful entrepreneurs (or lucky inheritors) of the post-baby boom generations X and Y. Although that is important, of course, and we have explored it in more detail elsewhere on our website.
This is about empowering all overlooked groups, irrespective of financial firepower. The LGBTQ community, for example, often encounter barriers to obtaining financial support. Many BAME individuals are at the wrong end of a wealth gap that has barely shifted in 25 years. And those with disabilities are often struggling to get by on very low incomes.*
All of these groups have different needs and expectations, both in terms of their attitudes to money and in their need for everyday help and support.
We are seeing ‘niche’ brands emerge to meet the needs of each of these groups, discretely, but shouldn’t their needs be served thoroughly and authentically by our biggest FS brands?
It’s nice being commended for including someone in a wheelchair in your ad, or going big in your support for Pride, but your deepest conversations are happening in content. Is your content taking these audiences’ needs into account?
Inclusive content is about being aware of the differences within your audience and ensuring that you are welcoming all relevant people to your brand. (This also includes design considerations).
It’s not just about targeting. It’s about recognising and understanding and empathising.
It’s about acknowledging that different groups of people have different priorities. That they want to be spoken to in different ways. And that they want to be heard.
To be clear, I’m talking about having an inclusive attitude, not a diversity checklist. This is a great article about the difference between diversity and inclusion within your workforce and many of these discussion points apply to your content marketing strategy too. I love this quote: “the difference between diversity and inclusion is being invited to the party and having a blast at the party”.
So how do you meet the needs of all these different audiences?
I would recommend that the first thing to do would be to get some genuine insight from each of these audiences – how well-served do they feel by the communications, and content, that your brand is producing? A longer-term objective should be to have as diverse a voice within your own teams as possible – and to listen to those voices.
Audit your existing content. Look for unconscious bias, stereotypes, diversity of imagery. Consider your tone of voice, is it appropriate for all audiences? Look for gaps in informative content that corresponds to what your research has identified.
Bring all of these audiences into your mainstream messaging, but also consider specific campaigns that match their needs through the lens of your own brand’s positioning.
Being an inclusive brand goes beyond marketing of course, but if we can at least use our marketing tools to build bonds with all segments of our shared society in an authentic and helpful way, then that will not only bring these groups to your brand, it will strengthen your position with all of your audiences as an institution to trust and believe in.
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