A Multi-Billion Dollar Branding Opportunity: Representing the Underrepresented

August 3, 2018

Underrepresented in Marketing.

Mainstream media fails to represent a lot of people, leaving an opportunity for savvy marketers and brands.

Many thoughts and questions run through a person’s mind when they’re considering buying something, but the one that matters most is…

‘Will this product work for me?’

If you’re in the business of selling products or services, you’re probably (figuratively) waving your arms around and saying YES, it will work for you! But will it actually? If you haven’t taken the time to consider how accessible your products are to people with different needs, you could be leaving out an entire market segment. That was Walker & Co’s thinking when they tapped into a multi-billion dollar market when they re-designed their Bevel razor for people of color with curly hair.

Brands can strive towards a more universal accessibility by exploring the many avenues of these differences. It can mean considering different cultural beliefs, gender, sexuality, ability, and more. By understanding what these varying groups of people need in a product or service your brand will be able to cater to as many people as possible.

Thoughtfulness In Action: Finding the Underrepresented

Uniqlo, the Japanese fashion retailer which generated sales of over $10 billion in the first half of 2018, partnered with designer Hana Tajima to create a modest-wear collection intended to provide a solution for people interested in more modest clothing. The collection of beautifully-designed loose-fitting jeans, long dresses and headscarves was enthusiastically welcomed in Southeast Asia where it was first released.

"For Muslim women there was almost a sense of being recognized for the first time," Tajima says in an interview with Fashionista. It’s also expanded beyond — Tajima says to the Toronto Star, “We started in South East Asia, with the local markets there… From then it’s really grown. Each season we brought it to new countries and the response has been really fantastic, not just from the Muslim market.” Business analysts have called the move “brilliant.”

Design can also branch out to meet the needs of people’s varying abilities. Tommy Hilfiger recently released a line that aims to be more accessible to people with physical disabilities. Zippers and small buttons can be a challenge for some people—no small thing when the majority of clothing features one or the other of these. Hilfiger’s line includes magnetic buttons, adjustable waist bands, velcro and other design features that increase the clothing’s wearability for everyone.

It Goes Beyond Design, and Into Marketing

In order to give people what they need, you’ve got to notice the gaps in the market, and understand the people first. Applying these changes don’t only aid people who require more accessible products, but actually make the product easier for all your customers to use.

The practices of inclusivity can expand from design to marketing as well. For example, according to a study of 1,500 U.S, U.K, and Australian marketers conducted by Shutterstock, a brand’s reputation is positively impacted when marketers choose images that are relatable to a diverse audience. People like to see themselves represented and included in marketing narratives.

Make the Most of this Opportunity

It might seem like people have shorter and shorter attention spans, but the reality is that stories will resonate if they represent your audience. By actively analyzing whether or not your product, service, or branding is accessible to the underserved, your company can be thoughtful and considerate of missed opportunities.

Expanding your marketing’s accessibility improves the lives of their local and global audience by meeting their needs and representing them accurately. These considerations can affect the lives of billions of people. And best of all, it’s not only the ethical thing to do — it’s good business.