Reach Inclusive & Diverse Audiences: 2023 Marketing Trends

Crystal Foote

Diversity and inclusion marketing programs continue to evolve and change. We’ve seen plenty of successes and blunders in 2022. Looking forward to 2023, expectations from diverse audiences and advocates will continue to grow and mature. Customers and brands alike expect the brands and businesses they interact with daily to display a clear and present commitment to and impact change in 2023 and beyond. Check out our top inclusive marketing trends for the coming year.

💬 How will diversity & inclusion expectations change for marketers in 2023? 💬
Following disruptions in 2021 and 2022, audiences and brands alike will be expecting to see more explicit proof of commitment to on-going changes and investment in these audiences. Brands who are transparent about efforts, spend, and changes made are more likely to make an impact. Those who chose to explore old PR models or one-time commitments will not succeed.
Damon Henry, Founder, KORTX

Bringing Inclusivity & Diversity into the Metaverse

New technologies bring new opportunities for expanded inclusivity and diversity. As Meta continues to create and evolve technology around the Metaverse, inclusivity should be at the core of its mission. While Meta has made promises about building diverse talent networks, breaking down language barriers, and broadening access, brands and advertisers must also aim to increase accessibility and visibility. Some critical ways DEI efforts must approach this in the Metaverse (and any emergent yet-to-be-realized technologies) include:

Virtual Celebrations of Cultural Moments

Virtual celebrations and tech around core cultural moments and celebrations will be critical to a multicultural Metaverse. Much like how many stores and brands now contribute and celebrate these moments, the Metaverse must provide diverse moments with equal promotion and visibility.

Diverse Avatar Options

Users should have access to various options to represent themselves in the Metaverse adequately. These options should include different abilities, body shapes, hair textures, skin tones, and more. Unlike many avatars of vintage video games that focused on stereotypes rather than true representation of people from all backgrounds, providing opportunities for true representation will be essential. Brands in the Metaverse providing virtual merch or options must continue to consider the personhood of their customer.

👩🏽👧🏼👨🏻 Study:
Clinique’s Metaverse Like Us
Between July and September 2022, makeup and beauty brand Clinique released nearly 2K complimentary digital makeup looks into the metaverse. Partnering with makeup influencers (Tess Daly, Sheika Daley and Emira D’Spain), the brand made these looks available for avatars designed by the brand Daz 3D.

Accessible Content and Experiences

Outside of representation, the Metaverse and brands utilizing this future tech must guarantee that this virtual world is accessible to all. This means providing options for those who may be hearing or visually impaired. Deaf and hard-of-hearing users will need closed captioning options for all audio elements. Furthermore, it will be essential to provide audio alternatives for those who cannot interact with an exclusively visual medium.

Alongside these changes, technology companies should lean into creating alternative tech for new users, similar to those implemented by Microsoft across Xbox and Microsoft 365.

Curation and Protection of BIPOC & Diverse Spaces

Social media allows groups of all interests and demographics to create and curate a sense of community. Modern-day social media spurred many of the most significant social movements of the last decade, particularly in the past five years. Trends and changes across many platforms threaten these spaces and, in essence, can disenfranchise these groups.


📱Case Study:
Black Twitter from Hashtag to Owned App
The most outstanding example is #BlackTwitter, where African-American users can collaborate, share, and socialize. Described as a “virtual public community, providing a counter-narrative to the mainstream coverage of Black people” by the Guardian, this on-Twitter community was threatened in 2022 by the Elon Musk takeover of the social media platform. Policy changes at this time lead to an incredible uptick in hate speech and racial slurs. The solution? Creation of new, safer spaces outside of the control of these big tech entities. Black Twitter App (an app launched by Jordana Wright) aims to carve out this space, offering a black experience-focused app. This app, boasting 10K users and counting since November 2022, provides a permanent home for Black Twitter users, created and curated by a black-identifying entrepreneur.

AI Diversity & Representation Issues

The massive popularity and growth of the OpenSource AI tool ChatGPT in the past week demonstrates an increased interest in the utility of AI tools for content creation and beyond. This technology has skyrocketed across social media, with users testing silly or beneficial-to-business uses. From a diversity and inclusion standpoint, keeping an eye on this technology is vital. These shiny objects can be fun to try, but they also have a continued history of diversity issues. In 2020, comparable technology from the Google Image algorithm produced racist and discriminatory results. The tech giant continues to tweak this same algorithm to improve the diversity of the results, Bloomberg reported in 2021.

AI and machine learning tools are only as accurate (and only as diverse) as the data set they analyzed to learn and later produce text, images, and more. These data sets often need more diversity of thought or thorough knowledge of non-dominant cultures to deliver meaningful, inclusive content. 

According to McKinsey’s State of AI 2022 Report, less than 25% of employees working on AI identify as racial or ethnic minorities. Furthermore, only 1/3 of the companies developing this tech have active programs or initiatives to increase the diversity of these times. This lack of diversity will presumably lead to increased discriminatory issues across AI technology.

Holding Brands Accountable for Diverse Spend

In 2023, brands should expect to be held accountable for spending their budget across diverse partners and audiences. More intentional media planning and strategy processes will be essential in exploring opportunities and partners. It is unacceptable to spend small amounts of money with minority-owned businesses or diverse suppliers. Marketing partners and brands expect to see the numbers and meaningful investments in upcoming RFPs and business agreements. Companies and brands showcasing their diversity will expect to see the actual value over smaller campaigns or a single case study. Eventually, an entity similar to the current MRC (Media Rating Council) will emerge to evaluate diversity and multicultural spending claims. 


KORTX Intelligence: Multicultural Targeting & Spend

Need some help vetting and validating multicultural opportunities? KORTX can help! Minority-owned and part of the Black LUMAscape, KORTX can audit your current program and provide smart, business-minded solutions. 

Grab a quick, FREE consultation today!

Increased BIPOC Internships & Funding

The talent pipeline for BIPOC employees is currently broken, especially in marketing and tech. While education is a core component of helping elevate diverse talent, the lack of internships creates a significant hurdle for future multicultural employees. Both paid and unpaid internships continue to lead to the lack of diversity in the workforce and, therefore, future income equality. According to the Balance, over half of the internships available in the US are unpaid opportunities. These opportunities are almost exclusively accessible to students from high-income families who do not lack an economic support system. 68.2% of white students participate in internships. This number is significantly higher compared to black (59.5%) and Latinx (53.3%) students. 

In a 2017 study, over 80% of students enrolled in internships indicated the opportunity impacted their career decisions and trajectory. As it stands, multicultural talent lacks these initial opportunities. 

In reaction to these statistics and an increased need for diverse tech talent, more and more companies expect to invest in further opportunities for diverse talent early in their careers, providing training and pathways into the industry.

 💬 How can internship experience help define a career trajectory? 💬
Internships are essential to early career professional development. Not only with regards to learning to apply your skills in an actual work environment but also in the relationships you create and mentors that you meet.
Alex Gibson, Recruiter, KORTX

Added Value for Charitable and Non-Profit Proposals

Charity donations and increased exposure for inclusive and diverse organizations have long been the expected capital for PR programs and giving. This expectation is likely to continue to change throughout 2023 and beyond. Donations and programs strictly for these purposes are becoming increasingly evident and suspect for many consumers. Customers now expect brands to have values that align across all levels of business and want objective adherence. Because of this, participation in these programs should provide more value and impact for involved charities and non-profits. 

Diverse Marketing in 2023 and Beyond

Transparency and commitment are the two tenants to follow as you build your diversity and inclusion marketing programs in 2023 and beyond. The days of quick charities and PR blasts with empty promises are long gone. These days, marketing agencies and brands must showcase their commitment through time, effort, employee resources, and money spent. Many contracts will require diversity inclusion for target audiences and staff commitments. 

This November (2022), General Motors sponsored KORTX Multicultural team members to attend the 2022 ANA Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference through their Road to Equity Program. After a week of excellent speakers, programming, and networking, our team returned ready and prepared to iterate on our diversity and inclusion marketing best practices in 2023.

About the Author: Crystal Foote is currently a Senior Sales Director & Multicultural specialist at KORTX. She is also on the Digital Marketing Advisory Council Member at The George Washington University and a Judge for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) 2022 Multicultural Excellence Awards.

Did you know… 70% of ethnicity-based targeting could potentially miss the intended audience?
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Crystal Foote

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