Over the weekend, the movie 'Crazy Rich Asians' took the number one spot at the box office, with a five-day opening total of $35 million. The romantic comedy had the best debut within that genre in three years. What is most notable about the film is that it has an all-Asian cast, the first movie in mainstream Hollywood to do so since 'Joy Luck Club', 25 years earlier.
The box office wins are great, but what is most remarkable about the movie is the lingering effect it has had on Asians across the country who aren't used to seeing people who look like them on the big screen.
I don't think I've seen a mainstream Hollywood movie with an entire cast that looks like -- well, me and my family -- before, and my heart is bursting. I can't even begin to describe how much I love/adore CrazyRichAsians. Wish I had a movie like this when I was growing up. (1/2)-- James Wan (@creepypuppet) August 19, 2018
You're 25 years old.-- Kimberly Yam (@kimmythepooh) August 18, 2018
You see a movie with an all-asian cast at a screening and for some reason you're crying and you can't stop. You've never seen a cast like this in Hollywood. Everyone is beautiful.
You're so happy you're Chinese. CrazyRichAsians RepresentationMatters
Business is about belonging. And one of the simplest ways you can make your customers feel like they belong with you, particularly your customers of color, is to demonstrate your understanding of the importance of representation.
Warner Brothers, the makers of the film, noted that Asians who normally make up less than 10 percent of opening weekend audiences, accounted for 38 percent of ticket buyers for this film. When your customer feel like they belong, they open their wallets.
The market craves diversity, and it isn't just limited to Hollywood.
Earlier this year 'Black Panther' shattered box office records around the globe, as it became the fourth all-time selling movie of all time in the U.S. The film which has grossed more than $1.2 billion globally, featured a predominantly black cast with a storyline set in Wakanda, a fictitious African country.
Last year, 'Coco' won the hearts of audiences worldwide and won an Academy Award. The Pixar movie featured an All-Latino cast and had a storyline that centered in Mexico around the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos.
Add in other films that topped charts and broke records in recent years, such as 'Wonder Woman' and 'Girls Trip', and it becomes clear that audiences are hungry for more diversity.
The market craves diversity because the market is diverse.
When you look at the makeup of the U.S. population, it is easy to understand why this is the case. African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians make up 37 percent of the population today. There are numerous projections by Pew Research and others that continue to show the numbers of minorities will only grow.
And these customer groups, are increasingly rewarding the companies that make representation and diversity a priority. And more and more, they are choosing to spend their money elsewhere when companies don't.
A few weeks ago, someone I follow on Instagram was promoting a brand of stylish and comfortable travel clothes. When I clicked through to the brand's Instagram account to get more details about how I could order, I quickly grew frustrated when I saw that none of the models on their feed looked like me. The diversity of the models on the page was grossly lacking. I felt like I didn't belong, so I put my credit card away.
The good news about putting diversity at the forefront of your marketing efforts is that you don't alienate other groups who've traditionally been in the majority. The movies noted above attracted large audiences who weren't a part of the niche that resembled the lead characters.
Catering to the masses often alienates your customers who find themselves a part of a niche group. That's what happened to me with that brand on Instagram. But catering to niche audiences actually help you win the masses.
That's because celebrating diversity unifies people across cultures.
Diversity, inclusion, belonging, and representation matter now more than ever. Not only is it the right thing to do, but evidence grows stronger every day that shows just how good it can be for your business.
Make celebrating diversity a core part of your marketing strategy. When you prioritize making your customers feel like they belong, especially the ones who have historically been underserved, they reward you with their business and their loyalty. Their friends will too.