What about Inclusive Marketing?


Inclusive Marketing

Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Officer of Microsoft, is pioneering Inclusive Marketing. He says, "All of our marketing should be Inclusive Marketing, and all of our touchpoints should be inclusive since inclusion fuels growth."

MJ DePalma, Head of Multicultural and Inclusive Marketing for Microsoft Advertising, defines this as, "…products, services, or experiences that reach people in ways that deeply resonate and afterward remain an indelible experience that fuels long-term loyalty and growth."

There are several reasons to use Inclusive Marketing:

  • It increases consideration: 54% of millennials say they'd choose an inclusive brand over a competitor.
  • It drives purchase intent: 60% of millennials and Gen Z express a preference for brands that support a social cause.
  • It improves brand perception: 92% of consumers say they have a more positive image of a company when it supports a social or environmental issue.

Diagram of the different layers and dimensions of diversity.

This image beautifully illustrates the many layers and dimensions of what makes us diverse. Ultimately, it's people who matter. At Microsoft, we care about our customers by valuing and practicing inclusivity. We understand that the additional benefit can mean the difference between attracting a customer for a day and gaining their loyalty for life.

By using Inclusive Marketing to better understand and serve the diverse communities that make up our customer base, we've created campaigns and stories that connect more deeply with audiences, keeping them engaged with our products and services. Here's a story that exemplifies this approach, related to girls and women exploring careers in technology.

On International Women's Day in 2016, we launched a campaign and program that offered women inventors support and mentorship to protect their ideas and advance their future. The campaign centered around the fact that women hold only 7.5% of all patents. If girls don't see any role models working in this field, those numbers aren't likely to change and impact the future of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The campaign not only inspired women and girls, it also received 14 million video views across social channels.

The operating model

Inclusive Marketing is an operating model consisting of three concepts that focus on the basics of what, who and how. By being curious and uncovering exclusions, we can drive innovation:

  1. What you market, such as inclusively designed products.
  2. Who you market to, such as an audience that typically isn't considered part of mainstream society or a part of the majority. Use authentic, representative creative that reflects that diverse population.
  3. How you market, such as search campaigns planned with inclusive consumer decision journey insights, an accessible marketing event experience, or campaign alignment with a supported cause that authentically aligns to your brand's mission.

Growth mindset remains at the heart of uncovering these opportunities. This mindset is rooted in inclusion, deliberate curiosity, and an intimate understanding of your customer's needs. It's a mindset that will shift the way you see your business and change forever how you go to market.

Where to begin

Like inclusive design, you need to get close to your customers, especially individuals who aren't like you. Seeking to understand how someone might be "excluded from an experience, a product, or piece of information that could help them participate in the world just like your core audience does. This creates empathy, and empathy provides valuable insight." (MJ DePalma, 2020).

The new knowledge of the customer experience drives innovation in the product you develop, who you market to, or how you market to them.

This insight allows you to solve the exclusion you uncovered and create new business impact. That solution can also span across new services, such as a new app, new audience marketing campaigns, or a content strategy, but at the heart of these new opportunities is inclusively thinking about others. Inclusive approaches to business report three times higher levels of innovation, along with better decision-making.

Inclusive Marketing isn't a side campaign; it is your campaign. If you take the time to understand your customer and the new trending consumer viewpoints, no additional budget is needed to embrace the journey. Couple this approach with enduring human values that span diverse populations, and your campaign can touch everyone's hearts.

Human commonality

We should highlight diversity, along with a common human value that most people share, such as coming-of-age challenges, love of family, desire for success, community, having opportunities, or even the love of music or dance. Then, we not only make the edge of a community feel understood and welcomed, but also include the entire market with this inclusive storytelling strategy.

For example, imagine a young girl who loves football watching the Microsoft Surface ad titled "Be the One," which features Katie Sowers as the first woman to coach in the NFL. The girl also watches the Super Bowl, so a connection is made. Inspiration and aspirations meet, so the girl now sees herself in Coach Sowers.

Parents feel supported in highlighting that their young girls can be trailblazers and achieve in a male dominated arena. Or, if you're part of the LGBTQI+ community, you can also feel a connection to the Microsoft brand because Katie is openly gay. Additionally, the Surface campaign also included a commercial called, "When inspiration strikes bring it to the surface," that featured black, gay entrepreneur Maurice Harris. Maurice's story is about becoming successful by being his authentic self and "bringing his inspiration to the surface" by following his passion as a floral sculptor.

Both of these commercials are about real people telling their inspiring stories that align to a common human value of triumph, achievement, and being recognized for their accomplishments while representing a diverse part of society. That common human value threaded throughout is what makes their story so authentic.

Creating more possibilities

Finally, evolve your thinking to create more possibilities. Our world is becoming more diverse every day. Younger generations are introducing new paradigms of consumerism, and older generations are evolving their purchase considerations. The more digitally connected our world becomes, the more human diversity shapes our experiences with a broader array of inputs. Marketers are being called to represent the global customer's needs with an inclusive audience marketing strategy that can bring local, personalized relevance.

Inclusion matters to business impact, and there's never been a better business case for empathy for our customers. Understanding the size of these trends and communicating to the individuals within these communities that they're valued, that their needs matter, and that their individual experience and differences are essential is crucial.

Consumers are evolving their thinking about brand interaction to one that's based more on common values versus being transactional. They use buying power to align to what they believe in and support.

Inclusive Marketing is about resonating, understanding, and empathizing with the customer, finding exclusions and innovating. Inclusive Marketing embodies the heart of an inclusive culture and springboards off inclusive design, looking outward into the world, seeking to create connection by reflecting common human values in an authentic and real way. You can't have Inclusive Marketing without an inclusive culture, ultimately seeking to embrace and connect with the customer authentically.

These foundational elements provide the unique insights needed to understand the elements that answer the next question.

Learn more by reading the Inclusive Marketing: Why it's essential for your brand white paper.