According to the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television, female film protagonists reached an all-time high in 2016. Films like Hidden Figures and 20th Century Women have predominantly female casts and have achieved enormous success in 2017. This comes a year after the infamous failure of the Motion Picture Academy to nominate a single actor of color or a single female director at the 2015 Oscars, an event that inspired the Equal Opportunity Commission to investigate the U.S. film industry, and to recently find them guilty of discrimination against female directors. In spite of the obvious strides forward, more can be done, and more needs to be done.
But how is the world of advertising fairing?
A research survey conducted by Ipsos showed black millennials desire more inclusive advertising. This has recently spurred YouTube’s director of diverse marketing, Oona King, to challenge advertisers to meet this expectation. Although vast improvements have been made since the infamous mistakes of the 1970s and the present-day campaigns like those of the National Fatherhood Initiative’s “cheerleader daddy” commercial series championing fathers from ethnic minorities, or the 2016 Fisher-Price ad starring a young girl with Down syndrome, not as much progress has been made as you might expect.
Remarkably, as of 2014, African Americans make up just over 5% of workers in the advertising industry. King says it like it is when he writes: “The demographic shift of the ad audience has far outpaced the demographic shift of the ad industry.” This inflexibility, King suggests, has played an important part in black millennials watching an astonishing 73% more YouTube mobile videos per person than the general population of the same age. Because of the absence of suitable content readily available on other mediums, an entire demographic has re-draw the parameters itself. More than anything else, this should highlight the necessity of introducing new ways of communicating with and responding to the impulses of all individual consumers.
Not only are new modes of communicating with customers needed, more specifically, they need to be designed to be flexible with the shifting audience and consumer targets. This will have a dramatic impact on the luxury sector as a whole, as their future typical customer will undoubtedly be coming from this shifting demographic. The industry needs to be fundamentally inclusive today in order to be relevant tomorrow.
Fittingly, L’Oreal recently produced an innovative video “ad for different ages”, including for 18-24-year-olds a make-up “blogger tutorial” alongside the more traditional “glam ad” for 35-44-year-olds. Furthermore, the department store Macy’s is set to advertise its “festival fashion” range with a carefully orchestrated “Summer Vibes Concert” on Youtube and Airbnb are using innovative ways to offer “local experiences” to tourists through their mobile app. In other words, the future high-worth clientele is, today, involved in these eclectic experiences.
Such flexibility needs to be not only responsive to demographic shifts but responsive to consumer behavior patterns. In a mobile-first world of micro-moments, the ground is laid for a brave new world of marketing: one that is fundamentally flexible, inclusive, and collaborative. High-end brands are not only expected to be responsive to both short- and long-term expectations of their current customers but need to be taking the shifting tendency of demographics into account. This potential to use technology in a mobile-first world to develop increasingly tailor-made user based and inclusive experiences can go further still.
Brands shouldn’t have to wait for a third-party research survey to be released to learn about what their customers want more of. Similarly, customers shouldn’t have to wait to be told what they want. We have the technology now to re-draw, in real-time, the customer-brand relationship using a projected customer lifetime and flow methodology. In doing so, an ad industry that is increasingly inclusive, diverse, flexible, responsive, and successful is the only conclusion for the future relevance of today’s luxury brands.