Starting a successful campaign in the new age of campus marketing can be difficult to navigate. One of the reasons being is that college-aged individuals, many of whom are members of Generation Z, have a distaste for marketing campaigns that are not inclusive.
In October 2019, the management company, Qualtrics, were backed by Facebook to focus on Gen Z adults, ages 18 to 24, to see what marketing strategies are the most successful. The research showed that over 70 percent of Gen Zers desired adverts to be more inclusive. In addition, according to Gen Z Insights, 60 percent of the young adults surveyed stated that they enjoy campaigns featuring mixed-raced families.
You may be asking why diversity in marketing is so important to Gen Z adults, specifically those who live in the United States. Simply put, this demographic has the most racial diversity comparative to any other generation, even in comparison to Millennials. A 2018 study done by the Pew Research Center found that almost half of Gen Z consists of people of color or mixed-race individuals. On top of that, members of Generation Z tend to be more liberal-minded and have a strong focus on social issues. Therefore, they have an appreciation for companies that share similar ideologies and have chosen to represent a diverse group of people in both digital and print adverts.
When creating campus marketing material, there needs to be a focus on inclusivity, meaning campaigns should include people of different cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and sexualities. However, a brand should steer clear of portraying a certain group of people in an insensitive or stereotypical way. Otherwise, there will be adverse reactions from potential customers, specifically college-age individuals, on social media platforms. While some may argue that all publicity is good publicity, nothing could be further from the truth in this instance. Just within the last few years, high-profile brands, like Gucci, Ancestry, and Ram Trucks, were heavily criticized, and even boycotted, after releasing tone-deaf campaigns.
To ensure your company is being as diversity-friendly as possible, consider employing people from marginalized communities to join your marketing team. This helps give your company a multicultural perspective and will, ideally, prevent any blunders.
“Many people don’t really understand, particularly white Americans, that the language that they’re using and the depictions that they’re coming up for our advertising are offensive. I think another reason is, a lot of times, the teams who are coming up with this advertising don’t have people of color on the teams or at least people of color who can have a strong, influential role on the campaigns that come out,” explained New York Times journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, in an April 2019 interview with NPR.Brands that have had successful marketing campaigns among college-age individuals include singer Rihanna’s makeup line, Fenty Beauty, and the clothing company, Tommy Hilfiger. Fenty Beauty’s marketing materials show a diverse group of women using the products from the line. Similarly, Tommy Hilfiger released a campaign in February 2019 that featured models with disabilities. If your brand is struggling with ways to engage with college students while marketing on university campuses, consider emulating either one of these companies