There is no general consumer
A view by Aline Santos, Unilever EVP Global Marketing and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
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In the words of civil rights activist, Audre Lorde: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives.” This statement is vital to marketers as well as those working in diversity and inclusion. For too long we have been guilty of looking at people through a single, homogenous lens, giving us an incomplete and limiting picture of who a person really is.
The conversation around gender has moved on and when we consider factors beyond gender such as race, class, education, age, ability and sexuality, we get closer to the multi-faceted nature of people and the lives they live. An Unstereotype Alliance report highlights the urgent need to understand identity beyond gender in isolation. One of the most common stereotypes found was around marital status. In India, 53% of women said that they don’t feel fairly represented in society, but this increased to 62% for unmarried women; in Brazil, 79% of all women feel underrepresented in society but this is even higher for single women (85%).
Another report highlighted the intersectionality reflected in searches. In 2019, the percentage of searches in the US that used a Latinx identity shifted even more towards country identification and doubled in growth versus generic Latinx searches. It also found double digit growth for searches focussed on ‘single moms’ or ‘single parenthood’, pointing to specific consumer needs around ‘single’ status.
These findings point to one of the pressing challenges for marketers globally. There can no longer be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. In the past, we used to talk about the ‘general market’; nowadays, there is no longer a clear majority consumer and this presents marketers with an extraordinary opportunity to evolve how we engage, impact and serve people with our brands. But to do this, we need to challenge the dogmas of mass marketing and traditional consumer segmentation. To create truly diverse, inclusive and unstereotypical branded communications we need to view people in the round and take a holistic approach to understanding the people we serve.