Consumers Look Beyond Marketing for Diversity & Inclusion

Only 28% of Americans said they made a purchase in the past month based on the inclusivity of a brand's marketing.
Danielle Romano
A diverse group of people holding a rainbow flag

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Inclusion-focused advertising came under scrutiny in 2023, garnering boycotts against several major brands for featuring diverse talent in their marketing materials. 

Still, adult Americans across all age demographics believe corporations have at least some responsibility to display diverse, inclusive marketing, according to a new study from Morning Consult, a data infrastructure and analytics firm. 

"The 2024 presidential election cycle will likely only intensify these narratives, making it more crucial than ever for brands to understand all facets of consumer expectations about their involvement in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) conversations," wrote Ellyn Briggs, brands analyst, Industry Intelligence team, Morning Consult.

[Read more: LGBTQ+ Consumers Seek Authenticity in Advertising]

Among some of the key takeaways from "Consumer Perceptions of Inclusive Marketing" are:

  • Half of U.S. adults think brands have a duty to speak out on political, societal or cultural issues.
  • Workforce diversity, women's rights and racism in America are the inclusion-related issues most consumers want to hear about from brands.
  • Despite negative headlines over the past year, just 13% of U.S. adults say brands should not engage in inclusive marketing at all.
  • While they take a back seat to other purchase factors, ads promoting inclusivity can be a motivator for some — especially Generation Z adults.

The major caveat to the data is that despite these strong preferences, diverse marketing is one of the least important factors when it comes to swaying customers' purchasing decisions, reported PR Daily.

Less than a quarter (18%) of respondents said that diversity and inclusion (D&I) in brands' marketing was "very important" when determining where they shopped or what they bought. This response came in third-to-last place among the 17 factors Morning Consult queried, tied with "has values similar to mine." Only two factors ranked lower: "follows environmental or sustainability initiatives" (17%) and "recommended by friends, family or influencers I like" (16%).

Only 28% of Americans said they made a purchase in the past month based on the inclusivity of a brand's marketing.

[Read more: Supporting Social Issues Draws In More Customers]

The major drivers of consumer-centric purchasing decisions are more practical, Morning Consult found. Price is the No. 1 driver (44%), followed by having products in stock (39%) and a safe shopping environment (39%). 

Morning Consult's data was drawn from quarterly surveys conducted from September 2023 to December 2023 among roughly 2,200 U.S. adults per quarter. All survey interviews were conducted online.

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