Diversity 600X315 Market research with a focus on D&I leads to more effective advertising

Market research with a focus on D&I leads to more effective advertising

Market research with a focus on D&I leads to more effective advertising

28-06-22 by Carine Vaeremans, CEO Profacts – Ellen Loix, Intelligence Director Profacts

Brands are often accused of insufficiently reflecting the reality of society. Indeed, showing slim, white people has long been the norm in advertising campaigns. In the meantime, a lot is already evolving, but not all brands are sufficiently aware of the effect of their communication on the individual consumer. In this article, we look at the topic from the angle of market research and provide some "best practices" on how market research can also contribute to the effectiveness of advertising.

Define the concept of "inclusion and diversity" clearly

Diversity is not limited to ethnicity, gender, skin color, sexual orientation, physical abilities, body type, or religious beliefs. Diversity refers to taking all elements into account that make one person unique from another. Inclusion in marketing is further linked to diversity, as it is about having diversity in advertising and campaigns.

But what does this mean specifically?

Advertising campaigns that contain diversity invite consumers to interact with the brand in a way that is relevant and, above all, authentic to them. The results of the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey show that particularly young people, the Generation-Z, demand more inclusion and diversity from brands than other generations. But that does not mean that other generations do not find this important at all. Marketing communication is only effective if it reflects the values, norms, and beliefs of the entire target audience.

The self-congruency effect

In conversations with the customer, we try to find out how the brand identity or the brand DNA, with its underlying values and beliefs, matches the DNA of its target group. What diversity is inherently embedded in the brand and how does the brand want to communicate about it? These are essential elements that need to be investigated when assessing the effectiveness of advertising. After all, researchers state that there are many advantages to a match between the self-concept of the consumer and the user image of the brand. Promoting a brand image that is congruent with how the consumer sees himself is of crucial importance for marketers to be able to reach the consumer and increase market share. This means that marketers can actively exploit the self-concruence effect by making the brand image more suitable for specific consumer groups and therefore also for a diverse audience of consumers.

Qualitative research

The most recommended method to gain deeper insights into the diversity of consumers is qualitative research, such as focus groups and in-depth interviews.

The research objective here is to contribute to a deeper understanding of the diversity aspect of brand advertising and how this affects the consumer's self-concept. Ideally, this qualitative research is carried out before the advertisement is launched. The insights from this qualitative phase are ideally used to optimize communication, so that the result can be validated on a larger scale in pre- or post-testing.

Ensure a broad target audience in market research

In marketing, there are basically two forces: first, the influence of advertisers on society and second, the influence of societal changes on advertisers. Advertisers should therefore be aware that advertising not only serves to promote a brand, but it is also a source of "social influencing". Marketers do not have control over which consumers they will eventually reach and that requires a greater sensitivity to diversity.

In this context, the power of visual communication within advertising is extremely important. Through visual messages around diversity, a brand can appeal to a much wider target audience.

All too often, only the intended target audience is questioned to test the impact of an advertising campaign, while it is important within the framework of inclusion and diversity, to question a broader public.

At Profacts, we encourage our customers to select a very diverse representative sample of the population for quantitative pre- or post-testing of their advertising campaigns. Today, we still find that marketers stick to classic criteria for representativeness such as gender, age, region and social class, while more diverse criteria such as gender preference, ethnicity or cultural background are insufficiently taken into account. Market research that incorporates these elements into the sample description will lead to greater knowledge of how brands effectively integrate diversity into their visual communication. This way, we gain deeper insights into the visual characteristics used in advertising from the consumer's perspective and how this affects the consumer's self-image in terms of diversity and inclusion in relation to the brand.

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