Advertisers and the media are tackling inclusivity in an increasingly tech-driven world. Success means tapping the potential of Black consumers.
Marketers and advertisers have gathered on the French Riviera for this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity to hear how to be more authentic and inclusive in an increasingly tech-driven marketplace.
Bombarded with advertising messages online every day, consumers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to deciding what kind of content and brands to engage with.
Going beyond prices and offers, many are scrutinising companies not only for their sustainability credentials, but their commitment to diversity and inclusion too.
'Untapped' Black consumers
At Cannes Lions, creative minds have been told to wake up to the "untapped" potential of the Black consumer market, during a session titled 'Harness the Black Effect: Diversity as a Game Changer for Brands'.
The audience heard that Black consumers represent more than €1.6 trillion in annual buying power in the US alone. Yet Black audiences make up less than two per cent of American advertising and marketing spend.
"In 2023, investment is still really low towards dedicated Black-facing campaigns and there's quite a bit of an opportunity that’s left on the table thereby," Brianne Boles-Marshall, Diverse Media Strategy and Investment Lead at American automaker General Motors (GM) told Euronews Next in Cannes.
"It's just like anything else, if you're not speaking directly with an audience, they may feel like your message is not for them. So, if you want to change the game of your brands, if you want to let [the consumer] know that yes, our products are for you, you speak with them, not at them".
Boles-Marshall added that research has shown that the "Black Effect," the impact of Black consumers, influences mainstream consumer behaviours to a greater degree.
Making AI inclusive
Advertisers, marketers, and the media are tackling inclusivity in an increasingly tech-driven environment, with the rise of things like generative AI (artificial intelligence) creating content.
It’s an extra challenge for businesses as they strive to be more diverse and representative.
"We have to evolve with the technology, and we have to make sure the technology, as it evolves, is inclusive," said Boles-Marshall. “When you talk about AI and some of these new-age kind of approaches, we want to make sure that AI is being mindful of how it’s implementing across diverse consumers".
She continued: "We’re not trying to usurp Black consumers; we’re trying to leverage the power they already have. So as long as tech obeys that rule too, I think we’ll be in good shape".
Being in tune with consumers
Younger people, in the 18-25 age group, are taking greater notice of inclusive advertising when making purchase decisions, according to consumer research carried out by Deloitte in 2021.
But the consulting firm highlights that it is not enough to just market inclusiveness or diversity, stressing its data shows 57 per cent of consumers are more loyal to brands who commit to addressing social inequities in their actions.
Deloitte also points out that getting future customers onboard involves brands demonstrating a range of equitable outcomes, including in recruitment and retention, as well as marketing products for users of differing abilities.
“Words alone don’t cut it. If you don't pass the smell test, it's actually going to cost you more money to better your reputation in the marketplace than if you had just followed through with what you had said in the first place,” Boles-Marshall, from GM, told Euronews Next.
“Consumers are savvy, they are investigating things and they're sharing what they've investigated with other consumers. It's wildfire".
GM is going through a transformation of its own right now, setting itself a goal of electrifying most of the vehicles it manufactures by 2035. The company also wants to be carbon neutral five years later. A journey it says will be fully inclusive.
“At General Motors, we have dedicated media budgets towards Black consumers. We've targeted Black-owned media in consumer segments, but we have also taken note of how we're delivering against all diverse segments,” said Boles-Marshall.
“For us, it's all about everybody in, we want to make sure that everybody sees themselves in our products and everybody's locking arms to drive our products into the all-electric future".
For more from this interview at the 2023 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, watch the video in the media player above.