It's the first Black History Month since widespread Black Lives Matter protests upended the number of companies that talk about race. And while many insist that diversity efforts must go beyond just sprinkling more people of color into marketing, Etsy is trying to put a pin in that: It's also making a more concerted effort to track and improve diverse imagery.
Dayna Isom Johnson, trends expert for the Brooklyn-based company, explains how Etsy is changing what consumers see.
Marketing Daily: Etsy recently announced that 59% of the images developed or used by the creative team included a human element that featured black or brown skin tones in the fourth quarter. Can you explain why that's important?
Dayna Isom Johnson: We believe Etsy is a trailblazer. We've been working toward these goals for a long time -- diversity is at the core of what we do. We keep trying to do it in an authentic way to the brand and the community of makers. And of course, our efforts are bigger than marketing. We're proud of improvements we've made in hiring, for example.
But in terms of images and bringing that 59% to life, it means taking a look at every human element we use. Any image -- a hand, an ear, an illustration -- can better reflect black and brown skin.
Marketing Daily: Etsy has about 3.7 million sellers and 70 million active buyers. Do you talk to sellers about how to use more diverse images in their shops?
Isom Johnson: Not at all. How they market themselves is entirely up to them. But we must be making sure that everything that we put out, as a company, makes Etsy reflect the global community -- our shoppers and sellers.
Marketing Daily: Do you notice diversity in other companies' ads, and do you think most consumers do?
Isom Johnson: As a black woman, I notice. It's personal to me. I want to make sure our shoppers see themselves in everything that we put out there.
It's great to feel good about the items you're shopping for because you know exactly where your dollar is going. That's why we're so attentive to the way we highlight our Black-owned and LatinX-owned shops -- people know they are supporting that community. Those "Editors' Picks" pages are crucial.
Marketing Daily: Do you have a favorite?
Isom Johnson: So many. The quilters of Gee's Bend are amazing. It's an ongoing partnership with two nonprofits, Nest and Souls Grown Deep. These women are amazing artisans, and their income has been crushed by the pandemic and the loss of tourism. So getting these women, all from a remote Black community in Alabama, has been so special. They've been quilting for generation after generation.
Marketing Daily: The Etsy holiday campaign was an interesting one that highlighted inclusion in many ways. There was a young Black man bringing his boyfriend home to meet his family, for example. And there was a sweet spot highlighting Shiori, a young girl whose name was constantly mispronounced -- the very kind of micro-aggression more people are becoming aware of.
Isom Johnson: I love those ads! Creating the ads for us is a separate process, and involves lots of message and casting considerations. Our merchandising team is different, and they're continually combing through, trying to find the greatest, most unique products. And diversity is part of that first step in search and discovery -- it isn't an afterthought.
Marketing Daily: Do you think it's important to keep tracking every single image this way?
Isom Johnson: Yes, and I'm glad we're at the forefront of this type of tracking and reporting. We will just continue to make this process more seamless and more ingrained into everyday decision-making.