Build Loyal Customers by Using Inclusive Marketing Research
How do you build loyal customers? It all starts by understanding what inclusive marketing research is – find out in this post.
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How Being Inclusive in Your Marketing Research Helps Build a Loyal Customer Base
Consumer habits are changing, largely because millennials and Gen Z now account for more of the consumer market. As a retailer, you might find yourself in need of developing new strategies when it comes to marketing.
First, today’s younger generation of consumers wants different things. They’re focused on value and want to form relationships with the brands they trust rather than just looking at advertisements. They want to engage with businesses that show humanity with the way they communicate and the values they stand for.
The marketplace has become more diverse. People have different social identities, motivations, preferences, values, and behaviors. They want to see branding efforts that reflect those worldviews.
So, as you’re conducting market research, how can you prioritize those things? How can you capture the voices of your target demographic and promote inclusivity in your future campaigns?
Why Is Inclusive Marketing Important?
There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about inclusion in the media. To paint a clear picture, take a look at one of the most successful and widely talked-about Broadway shows of all time — Hamilton.
There’s no doubt that much of Hamilton’s success came from its unique storytelling and incredible songs. But, consider this — would it have reached the same level of success if every member of the original cast was “true” to the background and ethnicity of the characters they were playing? The cast was racially and socially diverse, all playing characters that are well-known for being white.
It’s hard to imagine the show having the same flair, the same vibe, or even the same appeal if every character on the stage was a white man. In fact, it would probably appear out of touch and stale by today’s standards.
What does Broadway have to do with your retail marketing? This particular example shows how important inclusivity is. Hamilton wasn’t great because they pulled people from different backgrounds to play those roles. It was great because they did so authentically and unapologetically. They didn’t make a big deal out of the fact that their cast was different. It was normal. It was expected. It was a reflection of the world.
The goal of inclusive marketing isn’t just to appeal to people from different backgrounds to make more sales. Rather, it’s to authentically improve your company culture and to show your audience that your brand is a reflection of the world, too. Doing so will help with things like:
- Increased engagement
- Better relationships
- Greater exposure
- A larger target audience
- Employee retention
- Greater recruitment efforts
Take a look at your existing market research strategies. Chances are, there’s room for improvement when it comes to being more inclusive.
Using Technology in Your Market Research to Promote Inclusivity
In the retail industry, your goal should be to grow your audience as much as possible in a genuine, trustworthy, and authentic way. By opening yourself up to a wider audience, you can accomplish that. Today’s consumers no longer think of digital or in-person shopping experiences as two separate things — it’s all just “shopping”.
The more research you do about your target audience, the better experience they’ll have from start to finish. But, most people do still value the in-store experience as it can give them a tangible idea of who you are and what your business stands for. We’ll touch on the importance of representation from within later. Smart technology is improving the retail experience for everyone, offering benefits like more connected systems, real-time inventory management, and more.
More importantly, however, tech innovations are creating a more inclusive experience for everyone. There are far too many underserved and underrepresented groups in the U.S. alone. When it comes to consumer research, technology can improve representation by giving a voice to those underserved communities. Traditional surveys and focus groups will always be important and effective, but utilizing tech in your market research breaks down barriers.
You can hold focus groups with people across the world. You can open up surveys to literally anyone by sending out newsletters or asking for feedback on your website. You can even use technology that allows people to authentically react to your brand and your products in the comfort of their own homes if they aren’t able to travel to your brick-and-mortar business.
The Best Research Methods for Your Business
As stated above, there’s nothing wrong with surveys and focus groups as long as you’re opening them up to a wider audience and making them accessible to everyone. If you’re not sure how to get started, consider using a free survey maker. Online templates make it easy to set up surveys in minutes that will help you:
- Collect better customer data
- Identify your true target audience
- Learn more about their shopping habits
- Identify their needs/wants/challenges
When you’re able to better understand your demographic, you can make effective changes to create a more inclusive environment and make them feel welcome, either online or in-person.
Another great way to collect demographic data is to engage with your audience. If you run a brick-and-mortar shop, host events or open houses. Invite people into your store and take stock not only of who shows up but who makes purchases. Don’t just watch people as they walk around and shop. Observation is important, but interacting with your audience is even more essential. Even talking to a few people at an in-person event can give you a clear picture of your demographic and what they’re looking for.
If you run an eCommerce store, you can still engage with your audience and learn more about them by using tech to your advantage (again). Staying active on social media is a great way to start conversations, answer questions, and humanize your brand while getting a better feel for those who want to engage with you. Sometimes, a simple response to a Facebook post or Twitter tweet can go a long way in letting people know you’re listening and you care about them.
How Inclusivity Promotes Loyalty
Being inclusive with your audience lets them know you value them. You won’t get everything right with your campaigns right away. But, the effort is often enough to help people see that fostering a diverse environment and including everyone is important to you. Inclusivity gives underrepresented groups a voice. It elevates them and helps them feel heard and understood.
Who wouldn’t want to support a business like that?
We don’t have to tell you the importance of customer loyalty. While your marketing efforts should always aim to attract new people from your target audience, there are countless benefits to having loyal customers, including:
- They’re likely to spend more than others
- They’ll keep choosing you over competitors
- They can turn into brand ambassadors for your company
Everyone knows word-of-mouth advertising is worth its weight in gold. It costs a company a lot to attract new customers. You have to establish trust and build rapport. But, when a family member or friend suggests your brand to someone they know, that trust is already built-in, and that loved one is likely to become a customer much sooner.
In addition to giving your audience a voice and helping them feel like your brand understands, inclusivity promotes loyalty by allowing you to form deeper relationships with your customers. Again, millennials and Gen Z desire those relationships when it comes to the brands they trust. According to Deloitte, the average person sees up to 10,000 thousand advertisements each day. Many of them are targeted since people spend a lot of time shopping online. But, your advertisements will only go so far if a customer feels like they don’t have a real connection with your business. Inclusivity fosters that connection and kicks off a relationship that can last for years.
As a bonus to your growth, the more you actually get to know your loyal customers and help those relationships grow, the easier it will be to collect accurate, real-time data and put it to good use. The people who frequent your business will be happy to tell you exactly what you’re doing right and where you could improve. Collecting feedback and putting it into practice will go a long way in deepening those relationships even further while attracting new customers, too.
Starting From Within
Whether you’ve started researching your target audience or not, you can start developing a better understanding of diversity and inclusivity within your own workplace environment. Take a look around and consider who you’re working with. What does your workplace look like? Are there people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations?
Or, does everyone seem to look “the same”?
You’re going to have a hard time marketing to the masses and understanding the needs and wants of current and future generations if you only have people with similar backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences working within your team. Work with your hiring managers and HR professionals to emphasize the importance of a diverse team. When your retail environment is a reflection of what the world looks like, you’re more likely to connect with a variety of people without excluding anyone or seeming out of touch.
Additionally, if you want your business and brand to grow, diversity is even more important. That’s especially true from a “behind-the-scenes” standpoint. Yes, you should have people from all different backgrounds and people with different abilities interacting with customers every day. But, you should also have diversity in the “business” side of your operation. Who has input on company decisions? How diverse is your marketing team? Does the core of your brand really reflect your audience?
Just as we touched on when talking about Hamilton, you’ll seem out of touch and awkward if the people behind your brand don’t accurately represent the audience you’re marketing to. That can be a tough pill to swallow if you’re looking at your current team and not seeing much diversity. Use it as motivation to make changes and to hire the right people who can expand your brand and help your business shift in the right direction.
By starting from within, you’ll build a better company culture and improve the look and feel of your brand. If your team interacts with customers regularly, having a diverse workforce can even help everyone who comes into your shop or connects with you online to feel more comfortable and accepted.
If you’ve only been in marketing for a minute, you understand the importance of market research and how essential data collection is for success. You don’t need to change your entire marketing strategy or the way you gather and analyze data to be inclusive. Inclusive Marketing Research simply means you’re being inclusive of diverse audiences with your research, finding ways to promote diversity, and taking the time to connect with the generations that currently make up the largest chunk of the consumer market.