In September, Grammy-award winning pop-singer Rihanna launched a makeup line, Fenty Beauty. Customers around the world went crazy, quickly buying the product, sharing their excitement on social media, and even posting their online reviews.

One of the primary reasons the brand was so well received was because it launched with 40 shades of foundation, to accommodate women of different complexions around the world.

Recent reports show all that excitement around the brand's launch translated into real business results. Fenty Beauty racked up $72 million in earned media value, largely through their free publicity garnered through social channels. YouTube also released a statement noting that Fenty Beauty related content had received more than 132 million views in its first month as well.

Why it pays to make inclusion a priority

Many companies focus on the majority when it comes to both product development and promotion. It is easy to understand why as companies often have to make difficult choices as to how to allocate limited resources.

But as the population continues to grow more diverse, marketing to the masses increasingly leaves a large number of customers, particularly those in a minority group, feeling ignored.

Thus when brands begin to cater to underrepresented minority groups, these consumers tend to respond with their loyalty along with a ton of excitement, because they've finally encountered a company that makes them feel like they belong.

To reap these kinds of benefits of including more customers in what you produce, inclusion can't be an afterthought. Rihanna noted that inclusion is the whole reason the brand exists.

Fenty Beauty was created for everyone: For women of all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures, and races. I wanted everyone to feel included. That's the real reason I made this line.

If you want to stay relevant, you have to get comfortable and in the habit of authentically marketing to diverse customer groups. Here's how.

1. Understand that representation goes beyond imagery

Marketing to diverse customer groups is not as simple as putting diverse images in your promotional materials.

While that is just one way to help your customers feel like your brand is for them, know that your customers want to know that you "walk the walk" when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

Fenty Beauty's promotional campaign with diverse faces worked because the products were designed specifically with inclusion in mind. 

2. Get to know your customers intimately

If you want to earn the loyalty of a diverse group of customers, you've got to get to know them on a deep enough level so you can engage them in an authentic way. That means understanding their dreams, desires, fears, and frustrations, and how they may differ from the masses.

That means speaking their language when communicating with them.

Fenty Beauty knew that women of color often struggled to find makeup that matched their skin tone. By knowing their customer well enough to uncover an unmet need, they were able to address it.

3. Build a team that reflects the customers you are trying to reach

Research shows diverse teams perform better. It helps you be more innovative, breaks you out of your comfort zone, and reduces the learning curve when trying to figure out how to effectively engage with an audience that is different from your norm.

Hiring diverse talent is an obvious way to tackle this. Another way that you may be able to address this more quickly, is by bringing in consultants with expertise in this area, or building an advisory board of diverse minds to participate in the ideation process and in the execution of your ideas.

Embracing inclusion is not only the right thing to do, it is also good for growing your business. 

Published on: Nov 22, 2017