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The Future of DTC Brands is Inclusive

No one wants to feel left out. And now players from legacy brands to startups are embracing inclusivity as the way forward for product development and customer loyalty.

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The purchasing power of Gen Z grows, brands are paying more attention to what makes them tick. According to a 2021 Bloomberg article, Gen Z has more than $360 billion in disposable income, an estimate that’s more than twice as large as it was a few years ago. Yet consumer behavior among today’s 20-somethings is drastically different than older generations. These young consumers care more about sustainability, social responsibility and above all else—inclusivity. If your DTC is inclusive, it’s poised to capture more market and create loyal customers.

Why Does Inclusivity Matter?

In a recent McKinsey article, writers Tracy Francis and Fernanda Hoefel note, “This generation (Gen Z) feels comfortable not having only one way to be itself. Its search for authenticity generates greater freedom of expression and greater openness to understanding different kinds of people.”

In short, Gen Zers are radically inclusive — and brands that want to reach them must follow suit. In fact, inclusive brands are 35% more likely to outperform competitors. 

So, we’ve made the case for inclusivity, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But if you’re not sure where to get started, we can help.

In this article, we’ll outline 7 ways brands can be more inclusive and foster stronger connections with the modern consumer.

1. Offer a Wide Array of Skin Tones

Screen shot Band-aid Our Tone
https://www.band-aid.com/products/adhesive-bandages/ourtone-adhesive-bandages

More than 100 years after the brand was established, Band-Aid finally introduced “OurTone bandages” for a wider array of skin tones. Though the change was well overdue, it did mark a change in the tide for legacy brands and newer DTC brands alike.

Today, an increasing number of brands are offering products that are inclusive to all skin tones. Rihanna’s Fenty makeup line sells 50 shades of foundation, and Maybelline expanded from 16 foundation shades to 40 shades in 2017. Likewise, Knix intimates brand focuses on inclusive skin tones, and even started a hashtag campaign called #OwnYourTone to celebrate women of color.

2. Sell Gender-Neutral Products

Whether they sell toys, makeup, or clothing, many brands are steering away from gender-targeted products and marketing. Household brands like Target and Old Navy are creating gender neutral clothing lines, while other brands are taking gender inclusivity to the next level.
Odele beauty created a brand free of gender categorization, pointing out that gendered hair products are an arbitrary marketing strategy. Similarly, Big Bud Press makes unisex jumpsuits, totes, sweats and tees, and Le Labo offers a line of unisex fragrances. Even swimwear is entering the gender-neutral realm, with Beefcake selling “eco-responsible swimwear that helps all types of people feel confident and comfortable.”

3. Create Inclusive Marketing Visuals

Screen shot ThirdLove Instagram

Inclusivity starts with the right marketing strategy. Today, consumers expect marketing to be representative across age, gender, race and abilities. Yet discerning audiences can tell if a brand isn’t being authentic. It’s still important to be true to your brand’s style and to avoid throwing in a token “inclusive” model.

Bra company Third Love hits the right stride by regularly showcasing women of all ages and skin tones. Urban Decay cosmetics also celebrated diversity by highlight a customer with Down Syndrome on their Instagram feed, and Gillette recently championed for transgender youth in a new video ad.

4. Share User-Generated Content

Inclusivity isn’t just about including a wide range of skin tones, genders and age groups. It’s also about representing real people — not just the airbrushed caricatures that so many brands have come to rely on for their marketing. After all, Gen Zers greatly value authenticity, meaning they respond well to marketing campaigns that show off real customers. 
Bumble dating app showed how to leverage user-generated content in their “Find Me On Bumble” campaign. The brand launched a website, video and Instagram account featuring Bumble users in New York City, allowing them to tell their stories and showcase the diversity of the app.

5. Cater to All Abilities

https://www.nike.com/t/go-flyease-shoes-V7n8cS/CW5883-003

It isn’t enough for DTC brands to serve a narrow target audience. Instead, they should be considering all of the people that might be excluded from their product due to differing abilities.
ASOS has been applauded for their approach to inclusive clothing: take their wheelchair-friendly jumpsuit, for example. Nike has also made strides to include people of all abilities, creating the FlyEase shoes for easy on and off. Likewise, Target sells adaptive kids clothing, made up of sensory-friendly, accessible clothing for kids with different needs.

6. Carry Clothes for All Sizes

It’s high time plus size clothing options move from the corners of the Dress Barn to the front of the runway. Today, more brands are including plus sizing with their standard sizing rather than treating it as a separate brand altogether. 

Old Navy is one company setting the example of inclusive sizing done right. In 2021, the brand launched “Bodequality”, an initiative that revolutionized the way they sell clothes. The brand now offers sizes 0-30, and showcases every style on models in three size categories.

7. Make Website More Accessible

So you’ve made your products more accessible, and your marketing reflects your greater level of inclusivity. You’re driving a diverse group of people to your website. But what will they find when they get there? If your website isn’t also accessible, your efforts may fall short.

In 2022, it’s essential to make your DTC website accessible to users with disabilities. Doing so will better serve your customers, improve your SEO, and even help you avoid lawsuits. Increase accessibility on your website by adding images with alt text (for the hearing impaired), allowing users to enlarge font sizes and using descriptive URLs.

Don’t Stop

DTC brands that want to remain competitive must prioritize inclusivity in 2022. It’s something consumers have come to expect—and they’ll quickly shop elsewhere if your brand doesn’t offer it.

If you’re looking for ways to make your commerce journey more inclusive, Air360 by Scalefast can help. Use Air360 to track user journeys and conduct A/B testing, which will allow you to experience your website through the eyes of your visitors. Once you have these tailored insights, you’ll be able to increase conversion rates and reach a broader audience. Request a demo today.

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