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Open Perspectives Unplugged #1: The power of inclusive marketing

A lady with a prosthetic arm – Text written: Open Perspective unplugged. People want: 1. Inclusion – 2. Impactful products – 3. Equitable experience – 4. Brands that take a stand – 5. The truth
What is inclusive marketing?
During Microsoft Advertising first live and non-recorded Open Perspectives Unplugged virtual event, our expert panelists discussed the power of inclusive marketing and how authentic and purpose driven marketing is essential to business impacts nowadays.
 
MJ DePalma, Head of Multicultural & Inclusive Marketing at Microsoft and author of the Five mindset shifts explained how inclusive marketing is often confused with diversity and inclusion. The latter is about the programs that create an inclusive culture in a workplace that is less biased and fuels innovation. The expression of an inclusive culture in business, whether it is designing a product, advertising or marketing is inclusive marketing. In short, inclusive marketing is an inclusive business strategy.
 
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Inclusive marketing in action 

Kelli Kemery, Market Researcher at Microsoft confirms that a key reason inclusive marketing is not applied widely is the fear of getting it wrong and alienating customers. The key to overcome this lack of confidence is to learn how to apply inclusive marketing through the Marketing with Purpose playbook.
 
One great example of inclusive marketing in action is REI’s campaign #OptOutside who has taken a stand against the consumerism culture of Black Friday and encouraged people to get outdoors instead.
 
One of the easiest ways to see how companies are doing it right is to look at – how their brand mission aligns to the authentic values they exhibit – Authenticity is the number one brand attribute in building trust. Are your marketing campaigns supporting your brand values? If so, it will resonate, and you will get it right. 

When everybody plays, we all win 

Xbox Communications Lead for DACH Sandro Odak, based in Germany, provides another stellar example with the Xbox Adaptive Controller’s packaging, which has created an equitable experience for all with their accessible design package. Sandro further explains how the Xbox adaptive controller is adapted to people with limited mobility and has enabled them to elevate the social aspect of gaming. These feelings of inclusion convey a sense of belonging which creates connections, builds confidence, and drives trust. This in turn has inspired and sparked an evolution throughout the gaming industry with the likes of Logitech, Nintendo, Sony and more developers now successfully building games and software with accessibility features in mind. The saying “nothing about us, without us” truly ignites this vision that unites us all. 

Accessibility is an opportunity not a risk 

Hector Minto, Accessibility Evangelist at Microsoft UK explains how often times, organizations who know little about accessibility approach accessibility as this notion of compliance risk combined with slowing down the modernization of their business.
 
However key facts such as 70% of disabilities are not visible, move the conversation away from an IT compliance challenge toward an HR opportunity of having a diverse workforce. Similarly, today, 97% of websites in the world are not accessible, and accessibility is a great yardstick to help SEO. MJ offers a fantastic tool to help businesses make their websites more accessible with accessibility insights which is part of the best practices included in the Marketing with Purpose playbook. 

Playing it safe, is riskier than taking a stand 

Kelli continues that Gen Z and millennials are very cause driven in their purchasing behavior. A recent research in the Marketing with Purpose playbook uncovers that 48% of people have stopped purchasing from a brand because they don’t represent their values. The cascading effect for brands not taking a stand to be more inclusive is that consumers take out to social media and explain why they no longer buy from those brands. Hence, having a clear mission for your company to have deep connections with consumers, and finding shared meanings throughout the organization is critical. A great example of this clarity of purpose is Airbnb Open Homes community program whose mission revolves around family and home to house refugees and displaced people for free.
 
Another great example found in the Marketing with Purpose playbook, is the inclusive ad from Tommy Hilfiger’s adaptive collection. The campaign contained multiple dimensions of diversity and drove a 23 point lift in purchase intent vs. 10-point lift in the non-inclusive, yet appealing ad. Inclusion is becoming a value. 

Truth and transparency in advertising 

Kelli confirms that transparency is another strong driver of trust, love, and loyalty. Nowadays, “people are the media” and share their experience on social channels. There is increasing consumer expectations for brands to be more truthful. As a result, more and more brands are demonstrating how they are acting ethically for sustainability, inclusion, equity, and other causes. Transparency in data handling for example is key in building trust. In a world, where data exchange is growing in value, people will not want to share it without trust.
 
We hope you enjoyed the summary review of Open Perspectives first installment. The second virtual installment called “People want inclusion – not just to be included” will take place on November 5 and is open for registrations.
 
Book your spot today and explore what it means for your brand to be truly inclusive.