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RAPP Reveals Brands are Risking 25% of Sales by Falling Short on DE&I

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New research finds that brands are missing the mark when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion leading to a Brand Inclusion Gap

RAPP Reveals Brands are Risking 25% of Sales by Falling Short on DE&I

First-of-its-kind research from RAPP has discovered that brands are not doing enough to prioritise inclusivity. This is creating a gap between brands’ performance and consumer expectations, the Brand Inclusion Gap, leading to consumer backlash and real commercial impact. In fact, the research found that consumers were 25% less likely to consider a purchase that fails to deliver on diverse and inclusive representation in their communications.

RAPP and research partner, Material, polled 1,500 consumers online to understand the impact of DE&I content, followed by in-depth, qualitative interviews which were undertaken to understand nuance. In addition to ensure the study was fully validated and robust, a retrospective academic review was conducted with a diversity expert alongside an analysis of DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity) trends in the UK.

In addition, the research findings highlighted that diversity from brands is not a ‘nice-to-have’ but a necessity, with 64% of respondents agreeing that diversity in marcomms should be the norm. Indeed, when presented with DE&I compliant marcomms, 8 out of 10 respondents showed no change in affinity with the brand but commented on how it demonstrates inclusivity and relevance. In short, inclusive communication is expected from consumers.

When brands fall short, consumers notice. The result is what RAPP has labelled the Brand Inclusion Gap. Despite good intentions, brands are often missing the mark and consumers are sceptical of virtue signalling, with 66% stating diverse content needs to be more than just an image.

The Brand Inclusion Gap can cause significant commercial ramifications. In addition to the potential quarter of sales lost, apathy can cause a 35% decline in consideration and lead to negative sentiment.

Another key takeaway from the research is that customers expect authenticity and a level of trust from brands. Some 75% agreed that brands should hold themselves accountable for past mistakes, 69% said brands should use their power to help others and 64% supported brands donating to relevant causes. Building trust with customers through transparent and authentic action means they will be more likely to engage fully with brands.

Tain Joliff, strategy director – diversity lead at RAPP, said, “When it comes to inclusivity, the stakes have never been higher, and this research demonstrates that companies are still not doing enough to close the inclusion gap. While a diversity and inclusion policy may already be on the radar for organisations, it needs to become less of a bolt-on and more integral to the way they operate. To truly commit to being an authentically diverse brand, organisations need to understand the spectrum of who they are speaking to through an intersectional approach to diversity and inclusion.

“At RAPP we stand up for individuality which means inclusivity and equity forms the basis of everything we do, and we want to afford the same vigilant approach to our clients. If brands truly make diversity a priority, they’re less likely to alienate their customers and will form more meaningful relationships with them.”

Felicity Adkins, senior director of qualitative strategy at Material, said, “Understanding the complexities and nuance of consumer identity is crucial in helping brands establish and sustain meaningful connections with their consumers. But implementing a robust DE&I strategy is challenging work – we live in a time of unparallel scrutiny and consumers are looking for brands to move beyond good intentions and shift towards meaningful action and proven accountability. The insights garnered in this research demonstrate why it’s important to talk to a range of people with a healthy mix of identity factors in your research, and why it’s important for brands to understand and acknowledge meaningful aspects of a consumer’s identity to create authentic communications that resonate.”

In response to these findings, RAPP has developed a suite of tools for brands to establish a more airtight approach to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The Five Rules to help close your Brand Inclusion Gap are a set of tried and tested guidelines created to help brands build trust with their consumers. The IDEAs Scorecard measures brands’ marketing and customer experience outputs and uses them to create a personalised score for how well brands are showing up in the areas of inclusivity, diversity, equity and accessibility, as well as making recommendations on how the score can be improved and then activating against that roadmap.

For more information and to download the Whitepaper visit here

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RAPP, Wed, 19 Oct 2022 15:13:22 GMT