Due to recent tragic events, consumers and brands are more active than ever. From the #blacklivesmatter movement, to BAME communities in the UK, consumers are demanding to be taken into account, respected and cared for.
Just as conversations on social networks provided a catalyst for the emergence of the #metoo movement, BAME groups have finally found a loudspeaker to claim their rights.
Since 2014, when DOVE’s beauty campaign coined the term “inclusive beauty”, we have seen how in 2017 Sephora gave it a twist by incorporating not only different body types but also age groups, skin tones and identities. In 2018 Beyoncé, in Coachella, claimed her African-American and feminist roots, and was a success with both the public and the media. Today, in 2020, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez were the guest superstars at the most important Superbowl opening game proudly representing latinamericans everywhere.
Fashion changes. Brands change, because consumers change. In this uncertain world, where change has become the norm, we need to feel safe and strong. Communities have the power to fight against discrimination in hospitals, abuse at the hands of the police and a lack of action in regard to issues affecting minorities.
How can a Brand Manager or Marketing Director respond to this challenge?
First of all, look at your company. Your workers are your most valuable asset, and we don’t say that because it’s a Kotler quote. People look and ask about brands, investigating whether or not they are transparent about who is behind it. If there is inclusiveness, and programs that promote inclusiveness, then surely the ideas, products and campaigns you launch also ought to be inclusive?
L’Oréal has just changed its website to ensure that diversity and inclusiveness are part of the brand’s DNA, from the employees who work there, to the products they launch.
Use your voice
There are brands that have yet to appropriately address this matter. Others, like Facebook or Disney, prefer to donate money. Other approaches include those by companies like Sephora or Glossier, who prefer to commit at least 15% of the cosmetic brands they offer to African-American women. Other pioneers like Ben & Jerry’s, who have diversity and inclusiveness in their DNA, do not hesitate to throw ice cream balls at politicians with separatist ideas.
When Procter & Gamble bought Bevel in 2017, a cosmetic brand for men of colour, they were not looking for the new H&S. They were investing in minorities. Can you imagine what kind of sales ratio they have now? Some people say, differences aside, that inclusiveness is the new veganism. If they’re right, helping the world become more inclusive for everyone is a really good deal for all.
Pay tribute, don’t copy
We all like Indian, Chinese, Mexican food… We travel through these experiences of foreign cuisine, and we love it. But watch out for cultural appropriation. Carolina Herrera, for example, has been brought to court for copying motifs from Mexican folklore. Being glocal is fine, but it’s better to look for alliances with the locals. For example, indigenous designers in Australia are collaborating with the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation Fashion Show to create a festival of their own culture.
Look for icons
Many influencers prefer to remain silent on minority issues. Being associated with a particular cause can be a reason to dismiss certain brands’ campaigns. On the other hand, partnering with influencers who stand for their values means that consumers will come across your new products or your eco brand during an activist discourse. If plan A and B don’t suit you, use partnerships. For those influencers who already have their own products, you can always count on them as advisors or collaborators for a limited or special edition of your products.
Now more than ever, we have the voice, the channel and the means as consumers to stand up and claim our rights. If minorities are now the majority, and it’s up to you to help the world function in favor of everyone. And your company, what plans do you have to include us all?