More than thirty years have passed since the Italian apparel brand Benetton first featured models from diverse ethnic backgrounds in its “United Colors” advertising campaigns. As one of the first mass market brands to emphasize diversity and inclusion in its marketing strategy, Benetton tapped into the loyalty customers show to companies they see investing in people like them.
Fast forward to today’s market, and the bar customers expect brands to surpass is much higher. When asked to rank the values that matter to them, Gen Z ranks diversity 13 places higher and inclusion eleven places higher than older generations rank them.
It’s not just about marketing, either. Six out of ten members of the Gartner Consumer Community say brands should only promote diversity and inclusion if the business broadly promotes diversity and inclusion in hiring and operational practices.
The bottom line? Young consumers expect to see the same diversity they experience in their homes and communities reflected in the businesses they support. Brands that have not yet absorbed this reality should develop a diversity and inclusion strategy or risk irrelevance.