By Tony Tran, CEO and co-founder, Lumanu
The concept of inclusivity has evolved significantly over the past decade. Inclusivity isn’t just about race, gender, or orientation, or a reaction to discrimination; it’s about different worldviews and backgrounds coming together to tell relevant, authentic stories. But for today’s brands to achieve this, they must make inclusivity their North Star to break through the noise and create genuine connections with their customers.
Since Benetton featured people of all different backgrounds in the ’80s and ’90s, more and more customers want to hear their stories and see their lived experiences represented by brands. In fact, an Accenture study found that 42% of ethnically diverse shoppers are more likely to switch to a brand committed to inclusion and diversity. And 41% of LGBTQ shoppers would switch to a business dedicated to inclusivity and diversity.
And while an increasing number of brands aim to make inclusivity a core brand tenet, this is not always enough. Today’s brands must also think about carrying inclusivity through to their creator strategy. What’s so amazing about the creator economy is that there is no one stereotypical creator. For the first time in history, a democratized audience is driving who succeeds. More specifically, Gen Z is the first generation to treat diversity as table stakes when engaging with brands. They expect to see diverse faces and voices in a brand’s marketing and messaging, and definitely notice when a brand doesn’t make an effort to work with a diverse group of creators. These consumers can absolutely tell when a brand is performing diversity for clicks versus when they’re genuinely living it.
In a post-cookie data world, marketers will no longer be able to rely as heavily on digital ads and retargeting strategies––making creator partnerships even more essential to a healthy business strategy. As the future of marketing continues to take shape, working with a diverse group of creators who have an engaged audience will significantly improve a brand’s ability to build awareness, access new audiences and grow its market. Building an authentic and inclusive creator strategy will become the new norm. But how can brands approach the process?
Let creators take ownership
When working with creators to make content for your brand, it’s essential to give them creative control. If you try to be overly prescriptive with them, the content you get out of it will likely reflect that. Put simply: When it comes to creator partnerships, get out of the way and let the creator create. Of course, there’s a fine line between giving prescriptive guidelines and ensuring your product is represented accurately. Make an effort to listen to the creator and determine how they’d like to talk about or incorporate your product into their usual content. Then you can set your sights on ensuring the language is wholly accurate.
Remember the power of micro creators
The reason more and more people are able to make it as solopreneurs in the creator economy is that audience size is no longer the most important metric––it’s audience engagement. In fact, audience engagement is the main metric that matters for brands looking to work with creators. Star creators might have 2 million followers, but with an audience that large, it’s much harder to tell how many of those people are actually your target customers. By contrast, micro creators are able to build communities where they truly engage with their followers and foster trust. Working with micro creators also allows you to build a diverse set of creator partnerships rather than betting the farm on one or two superstars.
Think about relatable aspiration
When it comes to marketing strategies, relatability has dethroned pure aspiration. Instead, brands have realized that they can be aspirational, polished, high-touch, and inclusive all at the same time. This realization stems from the idea that you start from a place of creating––whether a business, or a marketing campaign, or a T-shirt design––with all humans in mind. In particular, Gen Z and millennials tend to want to see themselves reflected in the products and services they buy. And even though they still look to creators for aspirational content, most creators tend to maintain an air of relatability by building their brand on personality. A creator might have perfect skin now, but they share vulnerable photos of when they struggled with acne in the past when plugging a skincare brand they love. Maybe a creator used to struggle with money, but they now use the Lumanu platform to manage their business as a solopreneur. They share their lives authentically in a way that allows the audience to both relate and strive at the same time.
It’s been encouraging to watch how the idea of inclusivity has redefined so many brands’ marketing strategies. But until brands have an equally inclusive creator strategy, customers will be hesitant to fully engage and create a relationship that’s built to last.