Over the past 12 months, 29% of advertisers polled in a recent survey have used more images featuring women in their marketing campaigns, according to stock footage company Shutterstock.
The report -- which surveyed more than 2,500 marketers in the U.S., UK, Australia, Germany and Brazil -- also reveals that 19% have started using more images of transgender models and 14% have begun to feature more gender fluid, non-binary or androgynous models.
Disabled individuals present special challenges for advertisers.
Although 20% of U.S. marketers started to use more images featuring people with disabilities in their marketing campaigns over the past year, half (52%) believe it is difficult to reflect their brand visually featuring people with disabilities. Still, two in three (68%) agree that people with disabilities are important when it comes to marketing campaigns.
While 55% say their decision to feature more women in campaigns is an effort to better represent modern society, 23% of respondents were motivated to avoid criticism for not representing diversity. And 35% of marketers chose images of same-sex couples to avoid criticism for not representing more diversity.
The same percentage indicated their decisions to feature more gender fluid, non-binary or androgynous models were driven by a desire to differentiate their campaigns.
Over half (61%) of U.S. marketers agree there are some company concerns that gender-neutral advertising could negatively impact bottom line.
The motives that drive marketers’ image choice appears to vary by demographic target.
For example, those targeting American baby boomers (44%) and Gen X (44%) reveal they are most concerned about representing modern society. Millennial marketers (36%) seek to yield an emotional reaction through their campaign image choices or link with brand message, while Gen Z marketers (36%) indicated a desire to stand out from others.
"There is a shift occurring in our industry as millennial marketers visualize their beliefs related to diversity of race, gender and abilities in the marketing campaigns they’re creating," says Lou Weiss, CMO, Shutterstock.
Globally, Shutterstock’s research found the vast majority of marketers agree there is still room for growth in using more diverse images in marketing campaigns: Brazil: 95%; Germany: 86%; U.S: 89%; U.K.: 88%; Australia: 87%.