In a 2022 BAV study into the role ethnicity has on brand perception, it was found in the UK that 84% of respondents agreed with the statement “It’s important for brands to promote diversity and inclusion”. It was also revealed that 83% agreed that “brands should make more of an effort in understanding different ethnic groups.”
Now, these are very significant figures, but how does this clear consumer need measure up to perceived experience? The answer is sadly not very well at all.
Our data reveals that brands across four categories – beauty, finance, retail, and food & drink -- only achieved an average 19% association with the attribute ‘Inclusive’. This contrasts with an average of 21% for ‘Treats Customers Equally’, and 25% with ‘Helpful’. To give some broader context, a trait like ‘Good Value’ averages 30% for a brand in this study.
This not only shows the perceived gap between the desire for inclusivity and the reality experienced, but also an apparent lack of understanding on how to deliver on true inclusion; something that goes far deeper than just how you serve your customers.
A brand that has successfully closed the “Inclusion Gap” is Fenty. Launched in September 2017, it has quickly gone on to become a business estimated to be worth at least $2.8 billion, and has clearly disrupted the beauty category.
Across all minority ethnic respondents we studied, Fenty was seen as the most ‘Courageous’ brand we tracked (achieving still a strong 2nd place in the minds of white respondents). This is interesting as it goes beyond just daring to be different but is more about a call to arms. In fact, our study showed that ‘Courage’ was typically the weakest association of any brand, with an average attribution of just 9.6% (versus Fenty’s cross-ethnicity average of 17.4%, and a high of 21.7% amongst black respondents).
Fenty demonstrates that being inclusive is not just a good thing for society but is also great for business too. It also gives us clues towards the mindset that brands need to adopt as well, as being courageous in all that you do is still a rare commodity within the world of branding but can reap dividends when authentic.
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Author: John Keaveny
John is a Global Managing Director of Analytics & Insight. He has over 20 years of experience consulting on brands as well as for politicians.
Connect with John on LinkedIn.
Opinion Party (Vol 1): Belonging
This article is from the first issue of "Opinion Party" from BAV Group, a collection of points of view that focused on embracing the unknown, trusting ourselves and others, and ultimately a body of work that helps us all to connect around topics that unite us rather than divide us. Explore this, and the rest of the articles, to see how our authors have taken their unique experiences and written informative and timely pieces on the intersection of brands and belonging in today’s culture.