Whose is diverse? 50% plus of any population is female. About 10% of any population define themelves as LGBTQ. Very few countries are racially unique. Even Japan which, at one time, eschewed immigration and is now encouraging it.
According to the U.S. Census, more than 50% of the American population is expected to be composed of minority groups by the year 2042. France passed that figure in 2012, the United Kingdom is approaching that figure, Canada is composed of 31% minorities, Australia ditto and so on. And lets not forget those countries, the emerging economies, which are ethically mixed from their inception, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia and so on.
Taking this reality, what is your FI doing in terms of communication?
As countries have become more diverse through their people, tastes, customs and beliefs, the importance of diversity in marketing has grown proportionately. The problem with marketing to any minority community, more than with marketing to many other consumer groups, is that the marketer runs the very real risk of re-enforcing stereotypes or clichés and thus angering or alienating some customers. There have been numerous complaints about bank advertising that shows a limited view of black Afro-Americans, for example.
For too many other Afro-Americans, the actors too pale, too middle-class in their dress and speech, too white. Yet adopting some of the other Afro-American customs, styles of dress or speech immediately brings a storn of criticism about stereo-typing. It is a difficult line to walk.
One would think that marketing to sexual orientation might be going a bit too far, an intrusion on privacy. But those who identify themselves LGBTQ in the US, represent a demographic with relatively high disposable income which makes them an attractive target. The Experian Marketing Service study of 2013, showed that gay men in partnerships have the highest median household income compared with men in any other situation. The buying power of men in partnerships was put at $830 millions annually. So marketing to the LGBTQ community has became an integral part of promoting diversity, but the financial industry has been somewhat slower than commerce to deploy its marketing directly to this particuar segment.
What about the commercial sector? It was the first to embrace LBGTQ advertising. As far back as 2012, J.C.Penney was featuring gay women and their childen in its advertising whilst Target starting offering a line of Gay Pride T-shirts, same-sex wedding cards and including gay male couples in their advertising. Target donates part of its profits from these items to the Family Equality Council. Delta Airlines also released an advertisment for Fathers Day showing fathers of all types, including a gay couple, feeding their children using the “here come the aeroplane” technique.
In 2015, despite same sex marriage being legal in some states from 2004, Wells Fargo was the first bank in the US to put its toes in the water of LGBTQ diversity marketing, cashing in on the Supreme Court ruling in favour of same-sex marriage. This bank carried a real-life ad about a couple of women who wanted to get married in order to provide a home for a deaf child they wished to adopt. This was completely inoffensive, an absolute tear-jerker and nobody could disagree. A Canadian bank, TD, at the same time, started to feature various couples trying to budget. Among the couples were immigrants, mixed-race, native Americans and a pair of gay men. These were humurous ads to which almost everybody could relate having been, at some time, in the same situation.
These bank ads do not just target a small segment of customers but they are seen by other customers and are telling those other customers, at the risk of offending some, that diversity matters.
Millenials, for example, are an important customer segment for banks and they hold strong views about equal rights for the LGBTQ community.
The Mintel Marketing Report of 2014 established that equal rights for the LGBTQ community is one of the three social issues most important to that group.
Inevitably, some of this diversity advertising in banks gets a push-back from certain customers who do not approve. This is inevitable and how the banks handle such criticism will show the depth and degree of their committment to diversity. It is a movement that may encounter obstacles but it is, in the end, unstoppable with the current world demographics, fed by migration and the fact that the more developed countries have not been replacing their original populations now for over 50 years.
Even JS Bank, from Pakistan, a country not known for great tolrance to diversity, recently partnered with Global Diversity Marketing to create a conference on the subject of approaching diversity.
But to achieve success with this type of marketing, banks must develop marketing methods that are sensitive to individual attitudes, customs and thought processes. That can´t be achieved with AI but it can be done by genuinely listening to, and involving, the diversity within each bank and accepting that there really is strength in diversity.