Study Finds Clear Link Between Inclusive Practices, Business Success


 Last month, the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) released a research study that validated increased investments in multicultural marketing, with marketers expressing both optimism about progress with their DEI commitments, along with lagging industrywide advancement.

Marketing Daily caught up with AIMM co-founder, and CEO of Santiago Solutions Group, Carlos Santiago, to discuss the report’s findings.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Marketing Daily: What are some of the key trends identified in the report?

Carlos Santiago: The report, “Marketing Leaders Driving Equality, Inclusion, and Systemic Change," highlights a real commitment to addressing systemic biases with methodical changes, like participating in AIMM's GrowthFronts to advance an equitable supply chain.



Among the trends: Validating brand growth from increased multicultural spend (61% of organizations), clearly linking inclusive practices and business success; and significant improvement in eliminating bias in ads and content (75% report progress), leading to more authentic and resonant marketing. There’s also strong optimism, with 80% expecting progress in all-inclusive marketing areas in the next two years.

These trends show inclusive marketing becoming integral to overall data-driven marketing strategy, validated by results and advanced through industrywide cooperation.

How are brands responding to attacks on multicultural marketing and DEI practices by a small, vocal group of fringe actors? Has this movement, including lawsuits by far-right groups, had any impacts on their approach, or commitment to, progress on such issues?

Brands are navigating attacks on DEI by focusing on business growth rather than ideology, emphasizing inclusive marketing as effective consumer reach, and being selective about external communications, while maintaining internal commitments. Many have chosen not to directly engage with disinformation campaigns, doubling down on established values and business strategies.

The impact of lawsuits has varied, with some brands becoming more cautious publicly while upholding internal efforts. The key is anchoring DEI in solid business rationales and consumer insights, making it integral to overall strategy rather than separate initiatives.

Companies may call diversity different things and minimize public DEIB efforts for fear of retribution, but AIMM's study found internal efforts are continuing at a quieter, steady pace as brands learn to navigate this complex landscape.

The finding that 61% of organizations have validated brand growth from increased multicultural marketing spend powerfully testifies to the business value of inclusive marketing. It shifts the conversation from moral imperative to business necessity, aligning DEI with core corporate objectives.

The report highlighted an equitable supply chain, and improving multicultural data accuracy, as areas driving the gap in industrywide progress. Can you speak to areas of the supply chain most in need of further progress?

In the supply chain, key areas for improvement include diverse media ad spend -- espite a 9% increase in 2023, it only comprises 2.5% of all ad spend, far short of the 6.5% target by 2025 – and expanding opportunities for minority-owned businesses,  as well as ensuring diversity in creative teams.

Marketers can drive progress by setting clear diversity goals, implementing supplier diversity programs, and conducting regular audits and reporting. Multicultural data accuracy issues include inaccurate audience representation in measurement data and new TV currencies; lack of diverse training data leading to misrepresentation; and the impact of such issues on campaign performance measurements guiding investment decisions.

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