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Can Retail Catch Up with Inclusion and Diversity?


Can Retail Catch Up with Inclusion and Diversity?

Although we are used to the likes of some beauty brands such as Dove and L’Oreal putting fuller figures and older faces at the front of their campaigns, the retail industry as a whole lags behind other industries when it comes to the full range of inclusion and diversity. With it being such a visual industry, holding huge advertising budgets and powerful communication strategies that weave their way into society, it can have a big impact on how it shapes our perception of what is considered ‘normal’, ‘acceptable’ and ‘beautiful’.

But more and more, Millenials purchasing decisions are influenced by retailer’s inclusion and diversity practices, such as gender, ethnicity and disability. They want to see the faces and the causes that they are exposed to through the internet reflected in the campaigns of the corporate giants. Here are 3 examples of those who have done it rather well recently.

Benefit’s Idea of Beauty

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Benefit Cosmetics Ireland has chosen Irish model Kate Grant, who has Down’s Syndrome, as the fresh face for its campaign to promote the brand’s new ‘Roller Liner’. Benefit Cosmetics discovered Grant in a Facebook video about her journey to becoming a model and was quickly captivated by Grant’s zest for life, her strong determination, and infectious energy.

The brand decided that Grant would make an ideal ambassador for the brand. A spokesperson for Benefit Cosmetics Ireland said that the company is honored to feature Grant as the face for the campaign. It hopes her involvement will show that beauty and makeup campaigns can absolutely feature anyone from all walks of life.

IKEA’s Ideal Holiday

Whilst most big retail brands were busy putting on their most glitzy showcase for their Christmas commercials, Ikea USA stripped back their idea to focus on families that are diverse in both age and ethnicities. “Our holidays don’t all look the same—maybe that’s what makes us great,” a voiceover says. The idea is to show that Ikea knows the importance of life at home and that the holidays look and feel different for everyone. 

“Our goal was to tell this in a very real and empathetic way that was a natural fit for IKEA’s values and their role in helping every home be the heart of everyone’s best holiday memories,” said Ogilvy Group Creative Director, Della Mathew, in a statement. 

ASOS’s Self-Expression

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Women, all be it different sizes and skin tones, are still very much top-of-mind when it comes to how make-up products are created, promoted, and sold. ASOS’s new make-up line is deliberately designed to be gender-neutral. It’s marketing campaign which uses the tagline ‘go play’, puts emphasis on self-expression rather than unattainable standards, with the idea being that make-up can and should be used by anyone for whatever reason they see fit.

This even extends to decisions on design and layout of the website, such as a having a dedicated make-up category on the men’s section as well as the women’s. It’s a subtle decision, but something certainly not seen on most e-commerce websites where it’s more typical to find a ‘men’s grooming’ section.

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