“We made diversity a market-based issue. It’s about understanding our markets, which are diverse and multicultural.”
Sam Palisano, IBM SEO
Products, services, customers, etc. no longer obey the exclusive philosophy. Everything around has become inclusive and diverse. What does it mean? According to the modern marketing classic Philip Kotler : being inclusive is not about being similar, it is about living harmoniously despite differences.
Social circles are the main source of influence, overtaking external marketing communications and even personal preferences. Communities have become ever more powerful. Random conversations about brands in such communities are now more credible than targeted advertising campaigns. The main tasks of a marketer are to understand his entire audience, to please virtually every customer and make them talk about the brand by word of mouth. Inclusivity and diversity strategy can help greatly.
In fact, diversity is not anything new. Back in 1995, IBM included diversity as the main part of the firm’s business strategy. IBM CEO at the time, Sam Palmisano, said “We made diversity a market-based issue. It’s about understanding our markets, which are diverse and multicultural.” The company recognized, that this is the only way they can compete in the future. The result was amazing and overwhelming. They rose from $10 million in 1998 to $300 million in 20011 . Many companies have embraced the idea of diversity. Today’s this is rightfully considered as major trend of the last few decades. It just became more visible and relevant with the advent of the digital marketing era..
Inclusivity and diversity strategy can be fruitful for more than just products and services. Let see on with P&G statement: “With more than 140 nationalities represented in our workforce, our own diversity helps us reflect and win with the consumers we serve around the word. The more we understand people, their needs and challenges, the better we can delight them with our products and services”2 . Research carried out by McKinsey found, that companies with racially diverse strategies outperform industry norms by 35%3 . In other words, these companies better understand their audience and create multinational Buzz (conversation) around brand.
Nike was embroiled in a scandal after that company said it would pause Montaño contract and stop paying her if she wanted to have a baby. Olympian competed while eight months pregnant. In 2020, Nike launched an inclusive collection after realizing its mistake4. The collection is designed to take women through all the stages of pregnancy and beyond. Nike wants to appeal to female athletes despite the company itself has not always supported women.
Mistakes in the details of the marketing strategies have led big brands to apologize. They suffered big image losses. Brand buzz is an main part of strategy in the digital marketing era. Image helps in attracting the “right” brand advocates. It is important who will be a follower of your brand. It is important who will defend their brand in social communities on the Internet. Because decision making is no longer an individual decision, but a decision of the crowd.
Thus, inclusivity and diversity is a proven strategy that can work in your favor. This will help create a “positive aura” around your company and benefit. However, be careful, because a good name is sooner lost then won.
1. Harvard Business Review, Diversity as Strategy by David A. Thomas,2004
2. P&G 2019 Citizenship Report
3. McKinsey, Why Diversity matters, by Vivian Hurt, Dennis Layton, and Sara Prince, 2015
4. Nike News, Creating a Bond Between Motherhood and Sport, 2020