The concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) may seem like buzzwords to some. Wake-up call! They’re critical practices that are here to stay and will only continue to grow in importance over time.
For an industry such as beauty, which has historically set rigid, often unattainable standards for consumers to aspire to, incorporating inclusivity is beyond just a worthy endeavor, it’s a necessary one.
If you’re ready to make moves, here are six actionable ways to begin pushing your beauty brand’s inclusive marketing efforts forward—ordered from lightest to heaviest lift for implementation.
The easiest way to keep diverse beauty top-of-mind is to see it regularly, and one of the simplest things you can do is updating your social feed in order to see more diverse depictions of beauty.
We all know some serious time is spent in social media feeds. In 2020, worldwide internet users averaged over 2 hours per day on social media.
By surrounding yourself with imagery and messaging that promotes inclusivity, you can get inspired, explore which styles of inclusivity messaging could fit with your brand, view how consumers respond to the content, and normalize non-traditional types of beauty.
If you’ve never given much thought to inclusivity, you can establish a baseline of where your current campaign stands on the spectrum. Look through the last year or two of campaign and organic content your brand has published, and do the math.
What percent of your featured models are people of color? Does the percentage mimic the actual demographics of the audience your brand is targeting? The majority, 81% of beauty consumers, would like to see racial diversity in beauty/grooming ads, up as high as 85% for beauty consumers ages 25-34*
What’s the gender breakdown? What portion of the images show unedited or “imperfect” skin? Are you only using models with a certain type of diversity during the national dedicated month, week, or day? (Example: Using models with physical disabilities during Disability Awareness Month and not the rest of the year.) If so, it’s time to start assessing where the biggest gaps are between your brand’s representation and reality.
If you work with a casting agency, have an open discussion with a rep about the kinds of diversity you’re looking to incorporate into your campaign. For example, 67% of women wear a size 14 or above in the U.S., so asking for more body diversity in your model cast list could be a great place to start. Not only will this help funnel a wider variety of models into your casting options, but it also helps emphasize to casting agencies the growing interest in using diverse models.
Including inclusivity in your beauty campaign won’t be a quick and easy transition. Inevitably, there’ll be pushback along the way from those who aren’t ready for change.
This is often due to society’s traditional (and outdated) definition of beauty, which has been pushed on consumers since childhood via the media, peers, and yes, our families. Uprooting those well-established beliefs is like untangling your favorite necklace: difficult and frustrating, but totally worth it.
The most commonly cited reasons for not wanting to see diversity in beauty ads are that they consider this form of beauty unattractive (26%), have a preference to stick to what they’re used to (23%), and/or the content makes them uncomfortable (20%)*.
The pitch for beauty diversity and inclusivity may not land the first time, or the second, or the third, but the issue can’t be swept under the rug indefinitely. Younger audiences, like Gen Z, are even more concerned about inclusivity than their older counterparts, so this issue will only grow as younger audiences gain buying power with their professional development.
This should involve a carefully navigated conversation and will be critical to moving past the beauty status quo and into a more representative territory. Have a discussion with your brand team and ask why they’re turning down certain types of models or what their hesitations are.
You may unveil underlying biases, stereotypes, or misconceptions. And once they’re understood, your marketing team can strategize how to overcome them. For example, avoid initially offering model options that allow your brand team to continually fall into its comfort zone. By “comfort zone”, this could be young, thin, tall, white models. Instead, offer up a more diverse set of model recommendations from the beginning such as young and plus-sized, thin and using a wheelchair, tall and a minority, white and older.
This may be the heaviest lift of suggested actions—and also the most beneficial and far-reaching. Diversifying your company’s workforce goes well beyond your marketing team. It involves staffing and HR.
Having a diverse company workforce helps with brainstorming and strategizing by bringing a variety of perspectives together, while expanding your network of local model casting connections, not to mention helping lift up underserved communities.
Plus, a marketing team that’s diverse and inclusive from within has a stronger foundation to stand on when promoting diversity to their brand teams and customer base.
If your company is hesitant to diversify the workforce, consider the consequences: 13% of beauty consumers (and 21% of 18-24-year-olds) have stopped buying from a brand because their workforce lacks diversity*.
As marketers, we hold a lot of power in our hands to move our brands’ inclusivity efforts forward. Social media and other advertising are the top two ways consumers find out if a brand is inclusive.* Being a truly inclusive brand means actively promoting inclusivity through a multifaceted approach and goes beyond the way you market your brand’s product or service. A brand needs to consider the inclusivity level of the organization itself, its brand values, product design, product and/or service variety offering, price point, and more. Brands that accept, represent, and celebrate the wide variety of beauty the world has to offer will have a leg up on competitors who continue with the rigid and outdated beauty standards of the past.
*Statistics listed above are pulled from Mintel’s Diversity and Inclusivity in Beauty, US, January 2021 Report. Data is based on a Mintel-created survey conducted in November 2020 of 2,000 US adults ages 18+ with access to the internet. Go to Mintel.com to purchase the full report.