Rapp exposes commercial impact of inclusivity failings

diversityBrands are continuing to miss the mark when it comes to prioritising diversity, equity and inclusivity, creating a gap between brands’ performance and consumer expectations, leading to a consumer backlash and real commercial impact.

That is the damning conclusion of a new report from Rapp and research partner Material, dubbed The Brand Inclusion Gap, which found consumers were 25% less likely to consider a purchase that fails to deliver on D&I representation in their communications.

In addition, the research highlighted that diversity from brands is not a ‘nice-to-have’ but a necessity, with 64% of respondents agreeing that diversity in marcoms should be the norm.

Indeed, when presented with DE&I compliant marcoms, 8 out of 10 respondents showed no change in affinity with the brand but commented on how it demonstrates inclusivity and relevance. In short, inclusive communications are expected from consumers.

When brands fall short, consumers notice. The result is what Rapp has labelled the Brand Inclusion Gap. Despite good intentions, brands are often missing the mark and consumers are sceptical of virtue signalling, with 66% stating diverse content needs to be more than just an image.

The Brand Inclusion Gap can cause significant commercial ramifications. In addition to the potential quarter of sales lost, apathy can cause a 35% decline in consideration and lead to negative sentiment.

Another key takeaway from the research is that customers expect authenticity and a level of trust from brands. Some 75% agreed that brands should hold themselves accountable for past mistakes, 69% said brands should use their power to help others and 64% supported brands donating to relevant causes. Building trust with customers through transparent and authentic action means they will be more likely to engage fully with brands.

Rapp strategy director and diversity lead Tain Joliff said: “When it comes to inclusivity, the stakes have never been higher, and this research demonstrates that companies are still not doing enough to close the inclusion gap.

“While a diversity and inclusion policy may already be on the radar for organisations, it needs to become less of a bolt-on and more integral to the way they operate. To truly commit to being an authentically diverse brand, organisations need to understand the spectrum of who they are speaking to through an intersectional approach to diversity and inclusion.

“If brands truly make diversity a priority, they’re less likely to alienate their customers and will form more meaningful relationships with them.”

Material senior director of qualitative strategy Felicity Adkins added: “Understanding the complexities and nuance of consumer identity is crucial in helping brands establish and sustain meaningful connections with their consumers.

“But implementing a robust DE&I strategy is challenging work – we live in a time of unparalleled scrutiny and consumers are looking for brands to move beyond good intentions and shift towards meaningful action and proven accountability.

“The insights garnered in this research demonstrate why it’s important to talk to a range of people with a healthy mix of identity factors in your research, and why it’s important for brands to understand and acknowledge meaningful aspects of a consumer’s identity to create authentic communications that resonate.”

In response to the findings, Rapp has developed a suite of tools for brands to establish a more robust DE&I approach.

Rapp claims there are “five rules” to help firms close their Brand Inclusion Gap which are a set of tried and tested guidelines created to help brands build trust with their consumers.

The “IDEAs Scorecard” measures brands’ marketing and customer experience outputs and uses them to create a personalised score for how well brands are showing up in the areas of inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility, as well as making recommendations on how the score can be improved and then activating against that roadmap.

Related stories
Firms urged to help minorities but warned ‘be genuine’
Brands still failing on inclusion and authenticity in ads
Menopausal women ‘need more support from brands’
Skewed media spend is reinforcing gender bias in ads
Census shows industry at worst but it vows to change

Print Friendly