The NOW Gen

Mes: febrero 2022

Blog

Digital Transformation without DEI is no transformation at all

Digital Transformation without DEI is no transformation at all; social inclusion and kindness are 2 musts for a successful digital recipe.

In 2020 Americans experienced two events that at the time everyone thought would change the world forever: the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic protests following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police. But last Sunday’s Super Bowl, in which brands paid $484.7 million for 42 minutes of advertising–possibly the most notable of which having been a retro-looking QR code bouncing around old-school-screen-saver style, sending people to a crypto-currency site they ended up crashing–during a game where “End Racism” was written in the endzones, culminating the season for a league currently being sued for systemic discrimination against minority coaches, raises the question about how much things have really changed.

Brands didn’t hesitate to transform themselves in the face of the pandemic. Necessity is the mother of all innovation to paraphrase a cliche. According to KPMG’s Global Head of Advisory, thanks to the pandemic, “The move to digitization has accelerated, and the benefits will be permanent…There is no going back.” McKinsey data suggests that 80% of consumer interactions have moved online and that the pandemic has caused a quantum leap, having sped up digital adaptation by several years. Deloitte says that “to grow and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world, swift digital transformation into a pandemic-proof organizational model is vital,” and the pandemic even inspired notoriously slow CPGs to accelerate their strategies

The move to digital as a response to the pandemic has been indisputable and unanimous, and it makes sense. Consumers are demanding that companies meet them where they are and that they deliver personalized experiences. Approximately 75% of consumers experimented with new shopping behaviors because of the pandemic and 80% of them expect to continue with those behaviors. Consumers are increasingly demanding more personalized experiences and expect to experience them digitally.

While DEI has grown in importance, the change in the wake of the George Floyd protests is more of a mixed bag. It wasn’t all bad at the Super Bowl. For the first time in the history of Super Bowl advertisements, “female BIPOC representation (46%) and male BIPOC representation (41%) mirrored the 38% BIPOC US population,” and we saw the first hip-hop act to headline a history making and extremely well received halftime show. Those bright spots, however are probably overshadowed by the fact that the NFL is currently being sued for systemic discrimination. The NFL isn’t alone. In the last month Tesla has been sued by California for systemic discrimination in its factories and Spotify has been in the news for all the wrong reasons because of racist comments made by its most popular podcast host. 

In our last blog post, Talk is Cheap: Consumers Demand DEI Action, we dropped a lot of data about how consumers are demanding DEI action, just like they are demanding digital transformation.

«Research is basically unanimous that consumers want more diversity. According to Facebook IQ 71% of NOW Gen consumers expect brands to promote DEI in their advertising. According to Microsoft 70% of Gen Z consumers are more trusting of brands that show diversity. A study conducted by The Female Quotient, Google, and IPSOS found that 64% of NOW Gen consumers took some action after seeing an ad that incorporated DEI. That same study found that 69% of Black consumers were more likely to purchase from a brand whose ads positively represented their race, and that 71% of LGBTQ consumers were more likely to click ads that authentically represent their sexual orientation. Furthermore, 75% of Gen Z consumers will end relationships with companies that run ad campaigns perceived as macho, racist, or homo­phobic. These statistics pretty much speak for themselves, and the trend is that DEI is only becoming more important to consumers.»

The data raises a rather unfortunate question: in the face of equally pressing consumer demands, why can brands make monumental changes at speeds never before seen in the realm of digital transformation, but they can’t do the same in addressing issues of systemic racism and discrimination? In a famous New Yorker essay, Letter from a Region in My Mind, James Baldwin theorized that “America, of all the Western nations, has been best placed to prove the uselessness and the obsolescence of the concept of color. But it has not dared to accept this opportunity, or even to conceive of it as an opportunity.” 

Some brands do see the opportunity, and they’re making changes. Levi-Strauss says that “Digital Transformation Depends on Diversity,” and in the eponymous article they lay-out several strategies to combat discrimination that results directly from digital transformation. Google’s Super Bowl ad spoke directly to how their technology takes into account the difficulties some people have in being photographed emphasizing that their product makes sure that “everyone feels seen.” Hershey’s, for example, has created a new position, Chief Diversity Officer, that already boasts a laundry list of DEI focused action and initiatives. We wholeheartedly applaud these brands and their efforts, but it has to be said that a handful of brands alone won’t make a difference.

As no other writer has described as deftly the problems of race  U.S., we leave you with another classic quote from the great James Baldwin: 

“Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!”

NOW Gen brands have a unique opportunity to change history with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, systemic discrimination and racism, just like they are changing history by moving us into the digital age, but without DEI transformation, digital transformation won’t be any transformation at all. 

Blog

Talk is Cheap: Consumers Demand DEI Action

NOW Gen consumers want more than lip service from brands when it comes to DEI and anti-racism efforts.

DEI stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and lots of people are talking about DEI. People talk about DEI in boardrooms, in schools, on TV, in movies, on the radio, in science, in sports, in journalism, in literature, and, of course, in marketing. DEI talk is literally everywhere, which is a good thing, but talk is not enough.

What is DEI?

In breaking down DEI into its parts it’s useful to start with a metaphor. Imagine the world as a big dance, like prom or homecoming. Diversity means that everyone is invited to the dance. Equity means that everybody has an equal opportunity to dance, and Inclusion means that everybody is able to contribute to the dance’s playlist. Pretty simple and if it was implemented as easily, the world would be a happier place.

Diversity in marketing means that different voices are heard and that each group is spoken to. In an age where personalization is increasingly more important, consumers really don’t like to be sent messages that aren’t applicable to them, and, on the flip side, consumers are more likely to respond positively to brands that portray the groups they’re a part of in a positive way. Diversity means that everyone can find themselves and people like them represented. 

Equity means that within this wide group of diverse people each different identity and every perspective is treated equally. It means that not only is everyone represented but that within this framework each group has an equal opportunity to participate, and that each voice and each experience is valued equally. 

Inclusion is pretty literal and Inclusion is where the real action happens. It means more than just that everyone is equally represented. It means that all voices and all perspectives are included. Inclusion means that different voices and different perspectives are actively sought out, listened to, and incorporated equitably. It means that the myriad identities and perspectives of all consumers play an active role in development and decision making and pushing conversations about the things that matter to people further.

Why DEI is important

There’s two simple reasons why DEI is important: it’s good for the bottom line and it’s the right thing to do.

Research is basically unanimous that consumers want more diversity. According to Facebook IQ 71% of NOW Gen consumers expect brands to promote DEI in their advertising. According to Microsoft 70% of Gen Z consumers are more trusting of brands that show diversity. A study conducted by The Female Quotient, Google, and IPSOS found that 64% of NOW Gen consumers took some action after seeing an ad that incorporated DEI. That same study found that 69% of Black consumers were more likely to purchase from a brand whose ads positively represented their race, and that 71% of LGBTQ consumers were more likely to click ads that authentically represent their sexual orientation. Furthermore, 75% of Gen Z consumers will end relationships with companies that run ad campaigns perceived as macho, racist, or homo­phobic. These statistics pretty much speak for themselves, and the trend is that DEI is only becoming more important to consumers.

DEI goes beyond consumerism. DEI is about social justice and building a society in which all people are treated equally, where everyone feels safe and where everyone feels they have the opportunity to achieve the things they want. DEI is also about curing the very real harms of systemic racism. Still, in the United States of America in the year 2022, more than half of black and brown consumers report that they have felt discriminated against in a store. There is simply no reason to justify this and brands should be doing everything in their power to change it. When you add the statistics about how consumers are demanding that brands use their power to support DEI, there is simply no reason for brands not to be leading the way in helping create a more equitable and inclusive society. As James Baldwin once said: “And once you realize that you can do something, it would be difficult to live with yourself if you didn’t do it.”

Why Talk is not Enough

While it is undoubtedly important that brands send the right message to their consumers and their communities by speaking out in favor of DEI and against racism, talk is not enough. In the wake of the protests following the brutal killing of George Floyd, many brands made promises about their commitments to DEI. People are not going to forget these promises. Consumers want brands to make measurable DEI commitments. They want brands to ensure that their teams and suppliers reflect the community that they serve and that diverse voices are made a part of the conversation. They don’t just want culturally sensitive and culturally informed messaging, they want customer intimacy, they want concrete action, and they want to see change. Soon DEI is going to be part of every conversation, and if brands are talking the talk without walking the walk, people are going to notice