Promoting diversity and implementing it both internally and externally is currently one of the most pressing priorities for companies. Marketing is particularly important here because it has a considerable influence on how we think, perceive and act. What should marketing professionals consider when it comes to diversity and what opportunities and pitfalls await? We talk to entrepreneur Tijen Onaran, one of the most important opinion leaders in Germany, about diversity, visibility and digitalisation.
1. Your motto is: "No digitalisation without diversity!” What does that mean exactly?
Innovation without diversity is inconceivable. Because no matter whether it is products or services, the question of who develops them is becoming increasingly important. In the consumer goods industry, for example, the following holds true: consumption is political. Consumers and customers pay attention to whether campaigns are diverse. It is only if I trust will I buy and trust is created by people’s faces. But if these faces are completely homogenous, representing only one gender or social class, I as a consumer with a diverse background will feel ignored. Moreover numerous studies show that diverse teams are more successful and, incidentally, also more crisis-resistant. And what company doesn't want to be successful in these areas?
2. What role does marketing play in this?
Marketing plays a very important role here. Because marketing makes diversity visible – and makes the lack of it visible too! A sense of belonging plays an increasingly important role in purchasing decisions. It is no coincidence that there are so many start-ups that take consumers behind the scenes of their work and show how committed they are to issues such as sustainability and diversity.
3. How should marketing professionals implement diversity in their campaigns?
When it comes to diversity marketing, the following applies: you have to practice what you preach! If I, as a company, run diversity campaigns but I do not have a diverse board or management, I will lack credibility. Diversity in campaigns starts with diversity in the workforce. Only diverse minds design diverse products. The discussion around Pinky Gloves, the start-up that pitched a pink glove in the “Höhle der Löwen” (Shark Tank) that was supposed to "help" women dispose of period products, has shown: if there is no diversity in the workforce, you can forget about targeting a diverse audience!
4. Alongside gender-appropriate language, are there gender-appropriate visuals, sounds, and strategies etc.?
These do exist! Essentially, what I see, I understand. For example, if I only see people with white skin in campaigns on social media, I will only address this target group. The same applies to the topic of age diversity or people with disabilities. No company in the world will be able to reflect every single diversity dimension equally in all campaigns and marketing instruments. After all, diversity is not about perfection. Diversity is about imperfection, about constant learning and change. I advise companies to build a community with whom they can develop diverse products and thereby constantly evolve.
5. What are the most common mistakes and pitfalls?
The most common mistake is to do nothing for fear of doing something wrong. Not positioning oneself is no longer an option. We live in socio-political times and marketing plays a key role here. If I as a marketing manager am uncertain about something, it is essential to get advice and support from diversity experts. An external perspective can help to develop a diverse and critical outlook!
6. Which companies or campaigns are doing this well?
The start-up Gitti Conscious Beauty, founded by Jenni Baum-Minkus, depicts diversity in its images, ambassadors and campaigns in a natural way. Manufacturer Mattel has also made its Barbie dolls more diverse and this has paid off - in February, the company announced that it had generated its best sales in 15 years during the previous quarter, in large part due to its new diverse Barbie dolls!