Inclusive Marketing Campaigns: Direct Path to a Gen Z Customer’s Heart

We think we know everything about marketing, but the customers keep surprising us, don’t they? And the customers who have just entered the purchasing world, ie the Gen Z are the most surprising of all. They do not respond well to advertisements, they do not like cold calling, they do not check their emails often, and they want to know the brand before even making a single purchase. 

All of these go against everything that the marketing world has been studying, optimizing, and delivering for the past few decades.

Every day, there is a new guide on how to make our marketing campaigns successful when you have a Gen Z target audience. But when you get right down to it, you will see that optimizing is not the key, but the approach is. 

Gen Z customers care a lot more about brand values than they do about discounts at this point. They do care about your offers but if you cannot connect with them before that, the sales are a moot point. 

Expert marketers and large brands have seen that Gen Z cares about diversity, inclusivity, racial justice, and sustainability more than any other generation before. They expect inclusive marketing campaigns to be the norm rather than a radical exception.

So how do you make that happen? How do you adopt this philosophy for your brand? Let us take a look. 

What does an inclusive marketing campaign mean?

We throw words around easily, rarely understanding what they mean. Happens in marketing all the time. There are too many acronyms to keep track of, and jargon that can make any business owner’s head spin. So before we get into how to build an inclusive marketing campaign strategy, let us know what it is. 

So what is inclusivity according to Gen Z? It is important to understand this from your target audience’s perspective to get it right. 

Gen Z is a generation that is either all-in or all-out. They are passionate, driven, and loyal to a fault. This is mainly because they have access to a lot of information via the Internet and have grown up entering the economic force at times of major unrest around the world. 

For Gen Z, inclusivity is a philosophy, not a stunt. They expect inclusions in language, imagery, visual style, cultures, product design, and so on. Basically, every customer touchpoint has to be accessible to everyone in the society and designed accordingly. 51% of Gen Zers express interest in seeing diverse casting and imagery (visual representation) in advertising, branding, and all wings of marketing. 

But this cannot be a mere stunt or something on paper alone. 53% of Gen Zers agree that they would like to see diversity and inclusion in the senior leadership of a brand as well. 

So inclusivity to Gen Z is :

Know these well before venturing out. Gen Z is not the one to shy away from calling out a brand publicly or boycotting them if they don’t meet their standards.

Why build an inclusive marketing strategy? 

Aside from the fact that it is the right thing to do, what are the reasons that an inclusive marketing strategy is the way to go for a brand? We have already established that the Gen Z customer base would very much like you to do so, but does it really have a tangible impact on the bottom line? 

Well, for starters, it has a direct impact on the perception this world has on your brand. Yes, 83% of Gen Zers consider a brand’s commitment to diversity and inclusion an impact factor in choosing an employer. If people do not want to work for you, they are not going to buy from you either. 

This is evident from the fact that 85% of Millennials and GenZers feel that authenticity is important or very important in choosing brands for their personal consumption. In a 2019 survey, Adobe found that 39% of customers stopped using products from brands that did not meet their inclusivity standards. In a more recent study, 70% of Gen Z shoppers say that they actively choose brands that are proactively meeting their values. 

Proving you are an inclusive brand is a hard task. But an inclusive marketing strategy can help you do that. 

Marketing is but a medium of communication for a brand to express its values, mission, and modus operandi to the customers. You can’t talk to your customers about something more than discount offers and cliche campaigns. This is 2022 and the Gen Z audience especially expects it. 

3 Steps to build an Inclusive marketing campaign that reaches Gen Z 

Knowing that you need an inclusive marketing strategy but actually building one for your brand are two very different things. Especially in today’s world. One of the major challenges for brands right now is that all campaigns are globally accessed. Even if you do not plan to target them globally, they are available to everyone to see, review, and critique. Thanks to the internet.

This global accessibility means getting it right for a thousand cultures and a very diverse group of audience. It is by no means an easy job. And to make it engaging so that the campaign can drive conversions too, it is not easy at all. 

So here are a few steps that allow you to get the basics right and make it a smooth experience for everyone involved. 

Include inclusivity regulations in brand style guides 

It sounds pretty basic but the key to a good inclusive marketing campaign is that it is consistent and the principle is all-pervasive across the whole campaign. Customers at every touchpoint have to see the same words, the same images, and they all have to be consistent with your inclusivity principles. 

The best way to achieve this is to include your guidelines for inclusivity in language, visual communication, and ethos in your brand guidelines. This way whoever needs to represent the brand knows how to do so and this carries forward in all your current and future marketing campaigns. 

Transcend inclusivity across all forms of content 

When we speak of inclusivity, it is easy to think that it is just about representing people visually and with the right language. But there are ways to slip up here if you do not consider the checkpoints in all forms of content. 

For example, when you consider a video content’s design, it is not just about the casting. Think how accessible you can make it for someone with vision impairment, sound impairment, and so on. Make the content accessible to them with closed captions, subtitles, and alt-text in descriptions. 

Here is a video ad from Gilette that captures inclusivity both with its visuals and dialogues. 

For images too, adding alt-text makes it easy for someone with a vision impairment to experience your content. 

Even if it is text-based content, use standardized fonts that come approved for screen reader use so that the whole content is accessible and not just a few words. Avoid using innovative and non-standardized designs.

Nothing is too much. Err on the side of caution always! 

Highlight your organization’s culture 

Time and again, the studies, the statistics, and the customers are telling us authenticity is a highly valuable trait in an organization’s campaign. So put yourself out there, and show that you mean what you say by displaying your company’s culture of inclusivity and diversity in your marketing campaigns. 

Some ways to do this would be to include employees of diverse backgrounds in your campaigns, detailing the steps you have taken to build an inclusive work culture, product design, and so on. 

Well, let’s look at an example to understand this idea better. Urban Decay is a US-based cosmetics company known for its vegan and cruelty-free products. In the words of its co-foudner Wende Zomnir, “Makeup is not about covering your flaws but showing the world who you are”. You will see the brand embrace inclusivity in most of its campaigns. Here’s an instance where the brand featured an entrepreneur with Down Syndrome to talk about one of the products from Urban Decay.

Campaigns like these break the stigma surrounding beauty standards and such unconventional and heart-warming content will surely tug your customers’ heartstrings. And that’s how you make them remember your organization’s culture effectively. 

Inclusive marketing – the way forward 

Inclusivity has become the focus of every Gen Zer’s shopping experience. If you can deliver an authentic and inclusive experience, then you get a very loyal and passionate customer base all for yourself. So go out there and get it! 
And as you can see from the above examples, your social media posts and ads can all help your customers understand that you embrace a culture of inclusivity. So, ensure that your designs are on-point. For this, have a strong brand style guide and use DIY design tools or work with a graphic design team.

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