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Lightbox Loves: An Inclusive Brand vs Inauthentic Brand

Today’s consumer is more socially conscious than ever before. Around 74% of consumers make social consciousness a priority in their purchases, and 77% of UK consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that align with their own values and beliefs. In response to this shift in consumer priorities, brands are more vocal about their commitment to social change and inclusivity than ever before. However, this raises the question: do consumers believe brands' claims? Trust is a fragile and invaluable commodity, especially when it comes to sensitive and important issues such as inclusivity. What do brands need to do to get the balance right between gaining a consumer's trust with genuine care for social responsibility and losing consumer trust by using social issues for their commercial gain?

Brands must demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity through concrete actions, not just words. Research suggests that 68% of UK consumers are uneasy about how brands promote ‘woke’ causes, with 41% noticing a rise in ‘woke-washing’. A brand being vocal about its values isn’t enough; they need to show they are truly authentic with the business decisions they make.

An example of a brand that has stayed true to its values through its actions is Fenty Beauty. The founder of Fenty, Rihanna, made her vision clear from the outset of the business: no one was to be excluded. Fenty launched with 40 shades of foundation and now in 2024 has 50 different nuanced shades available. This means that skin tones that were previously underserved in the beauty industry are now included. The business also let its values inform the process in other ways too, by making the products available in 137 countries and using a range of models in their marketing of all skin tones, genders, and sexualities.

This inclusivity-based business model has proved extremely lucrative. Fenty is the highest-earning celebrity beauty brand in the world with an annual revenue of $602M. This shows the power that being inclusive can have for a business. The CFO of Fenty Beauty has said that their approach to inclusion marketing has always been about “showing not telling”. They have never used the word ‘inclusive’ in their advertising but have always been defined as inclusive via their actions.

“Showing not telling” is a great motto for any brand that wants to be more inclusive in its approach. A brand should let its inclusive actions speak louder than its words.

Source: Provoke Insights 2022, Advertising Week 2024, Think With Google 2019