Consumers expect brands to be authentic in their DE&I commitments
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With consumers looking to brands to take stances on global and social issues that impact their lives, it’s hard to argue the important role brands play in our society. With this great opportunity also comes great responsibility, and consumers are paying attention.
New research commissioned by Amazon Ads with Environics Research surveyed 1,000+ U.S. consumers about their values and what they expect from brands in a report titled 2022 Higher Impact. According to this research, 77% of U.S. consumer respondents stated that brands play an important role in advocating for positive social and environmental change.
One brand that has made its mission and brand purpose to drive such positive change is Orijin Bees, with its namesake representing an acronym for “Our Representation Is Just Inclusion Normalized, Beautifully Empowering Every Soul.” Orijin Bees, founded by Melissa Orijin, creates multicultural dolls with various skin complexions and hair textures to celebrate and showcase the beauty of diversity. Orijin Bees seeks to fill in the gaps where children have been underrepresented in the toy industry in the past, and they go a step further for their customers as well.
“At Orijin Bees, we know we make an impact because every child deserves to have a doll that looks like them, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances,” said Orijin. “We are proud of our ‘Get One, Gift One Program,’ where we gift dolls to underserved children as dolls are purchased. We’ve gifted dolls to schools, orphanages and organizations that support children of color, and we’ve also donated directly to families that have gone through financial struggles. We continue to gift dolls both domestically and internationally.”
Brands that lead with their purpose, like Orijin Bees, are aligning with consumer expectations. In fact, 72% of respondents stated it’s important that the brands they purchase from are taking action in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
DE&I is on consumers’ minds — and action is expected
Consumers have high expectations of brands when it comes to taking a stance on social and environmental issues, including DE&I. According to the 2022 Higher Impact report, over 50% of U.S. respondents stated that factors related to DE&I have become more important to them over the past three years. As this importance has grown among consumers, it is critical for brands to embrace DE&I across their businesses.
To expand on this, Evaristus Mainsah, vice president of people, experience and technology at IMDb and Amazon Ads, said, “DE&I means creating an environment and accommodations for people to show up as themselves and do their best work. When you create an environment that is inclusive, it benefits everyone.”
Brands have this vital opportunity to earn greater trust with consumers and to meet them where they are.
“Consumers have to choose between many competing brands, and brands need to understand that DE&I is a significant factor in consumers’ decisions,” Mainsah added. “It’s important for brands to not just talk, but to live DE&I and to make it meaningful for consumers. One initiative Amazon has launched is the Black Business Accelerator (BBA) program to help build sustainable diversity and provide growth opportunities for Black-owned businesses. The initiative explicitly targets barriers to access, opportunity and advancement due to systemic racism across America.”
Leaders across industries can lean in to drive more action for DE&I. There’s work to be done toward developing solutions for greater change and inclusivity — and that goes for advertising, too, as 72% of consumer respondents indicated they want to see more diversity in advertising.
“Consumers have made it imperative for brands to embrace diverse voices and pursue greater representation in their advertising efforts,” said Lisa Torres, president of Publicis Media’s Cultural Quotient and co-founder of the Once & For All Coalition. “Brands have stepped up to introduce new DE&I initiatives, develop diverse content and support minority-owned media, but more work needs to be done. True change in our industry can only happen when we step outside of our individual brands and work together with the industry to break down systemic barriers and find short- and long-term solutions together.”
As brands develop programs that support DE&I, consumers will be paying attention — 49% of respondents reported that DE&I significantly impacts their purchasing behavior and lifestyle.
Most brands have a purpose, and they should lead with it
Brands that lead with their values can showcase their authenticity to consumers by aligning their purpose and actions, further reinforcing their commitments to consumers.
To sum this up, Orijin said, “As long as you’re walking in your purpose and your decision-making supports that purpose, DE&I can only add value to your brand. It can only add perspective and grow your brand in a positive way.”
As consumers’ expectations continue to grow, brands need to focus on what matters most to them and how they plan to meet these expectations in the future. Now is the time for brands to take action, fully embrace DE&I and raise the bar on keeping consumers’ interests at the core of their decision-making to meet this moment authentically.
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