Diversity and inclusion in beauty brands is no longer just a trend or buzzword; it’s an expected standard. Customers want to see themselves represented in mainstream brands. They want to know that when they enter a store or shop online, they will find something that matches their skin tone, compliments their coloring and makes them feel like they belong.
Personalization is no longer only for marketing. Beauty influencers are diverse, and Millennial and Gen Z customers are rapidly driving brands to intentionally include underrepresented communities in product development and marketing. For brands that can do this well, the payoff is significant — they’ll stand out in a crowded beauty marketplace. Diversity and inclusion are considered important to 60% of consumers when making a luxury purchase. But brands must take care to not pay lip service to the diversity because savvy customers can tell the difference.
Values Drive Purchases for Millennials and Gen Z
Younger generations vote with their wallets. They are not afraid to boycott or boost a brand based on its stances on social issues. However, these trends toward value-based purchases are transcending generations. In 2021, equality became the value with which the highest number of U.S. consumers identify.
Whether it is supporting diverse founders or paying attention to where organizations spend corporate giving money, buyers notice. And for many brands, it is no longer acceptable to remain silent on issues important to buyers. In fact, brands are expected to be vocal. For instance, We Are Fluide and Milk donate a percentage of their proceeds toward LGBTQIA+ causes and other non-profit organizations.
Boost Diverse Creators and Influencers
Beauty and luxury brands have been slow to change and cater to diverse communities, leaving many customers looking elsewhere. The amount of money brands leave on the table is significant — Black consumers continue to outpace white households in spending by 2% every year. To meet that demand, founders have built successful brands in their spaces, including Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, Pat McGrath Labs, and Briogeo haircare. But, Black founders also want to see diversity become more mainstream. In the summer of 2020, Sharon Chuter, founder of luxury brand Uoma Beauty, began Pull Up for Change, urging brands to share the number of Black employees on their payrolls on the corporate and executive levels.
DTC brands must hire and collaborate inclusively. Recruiting and retaining diverse talent should be a top priority for brands. A diverse workforce offers significant tangible benefits. Decision-makers who understand the communities that beauty and luxury brands want to target are more likely to succeed.
Diversity and Inclusion as a Business Imperative
Brands that want to take meaningful steps toward diversity and inclusion must center the customer in their decisions, including those who make up underrepresented communities. Consumers are all too aware of the ham-fisted approach to spinning up a Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) department due to a scandal. These departments have an important purpose but cannot be used only as a front to show inclusivity.
In an article for Glossy, Renée E. Tirado, a former Gucci employee now a consultant, said she sees common issues among brands. “Major roadblocks are financial investment, holistic implementation and prioritization,” and as a final note, “brand preservation trumps all things.”
For DTC and eCommerce brands, inclusivity and catering to more niche markets are more accessible than ever. Limited counter or sales floor space is no longer a barrier to offering products that fit everyone, regardless of size, color or gender. In an interview for Vox, Barbara Kahn, a professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said, “Online marketing allows for more ‘long tail’ service – i.e., people who do not represent a significant proportion of the overall population and have special requirements, because the inventory can be kept in central warehouses and shipped out as needed.”
Ultimately, diversity and inclusion is not a side project or one-off initiative. It is a business imperative and a top priority for consumers. DTC brands that authentically and earnestly incorporate DEI into their brand promise will continue to win the loyalty of their customers.
Looking for more ways to attract new customers and earn their trust and loyalty? Talk to a Scalefast eCommerce expert today.