Inclusivity imbues fresh creativity into the consumer industry, illuminating new ways to think about merchandising, marketing, customer relationships and branding. Though inclusive values are easiest to promote via advertising, it’s significantly harder to build an entire brand and business model around inclusivity so that it trickles into all aspects of the company. However, as more consumers demand transparency from brands, those that integrate an inclusive mentality across their entire business will differentiate themselves from the rest.

This Playbook accompanies All for one or one for all? How brands and retailers are embracing inclusivity.

Brand

  • How well a brand’s self-identification and consumers’ perception of the brand match will affect overall equity.
    • How would you describe your brand and the values linked to it? How would consumers describe your brand and values? How well do these align?
    • Mission: What is the goal or purpose of your brand? How inclusive is this mission?
      • Individuality: Does your brand champion the individual—that is, who your customer already is or wants to be?
      • Diversity: Does your brand appeal to and cater to a wide breadth of customers in terms of geography, socioeconomic status, gender, education, race, ethnicity, size, age?
      • Targeted inclusivity: Does your brand cater to a historically underserved demographic? Is it more profitable to target a specific consumer cohort or appeal to the widest consumer base possible?
    • Think about your core customer in terms of her geography, socioeconomic status, gender, education, race and ethnicity, age and size. How can you use what you know about this core customer to create a more inclusive brand?
    • Does your brand help foster a community or add to a community?
      • How does your brand foster belonging in this community? How much friction do newcomers encounter when attempting to join this community?
      • What are the values of this community?
      • What are the pros and cons of creating a community and how can you ensure that it evolves and grows over time? How can you cater to individual customer needs and foster individual relationships while still fostering a community?
    • Does your internal culture reflect the culture you espouse in your marketing and brand mission? How well do your corporate practices match your brand mission? How can you align them further?

Product and product design

  • Viewing your product through the lens of inclusivity will help advance an inclusive mission statement.
    • How do you design your product with inclusivity in mind? Is your product inherently inclusive, or perhaps a vehicle for inclusivity? Is your product design directed at a specific type of customer or for many different types of customers?
    • Do you offer straight-size, plus-size, tall, short and/or custom sizing? How can you strategically and sustainably expand the products you offer to reach a wider range of consumers?
    • How much feedback do you receive or ask for from customers about product design and how can you incorporate it into your product development strategy?

Inventory

  • Inventory size affects the accessibility of a brand—a larger one will be available to more customers, but may decrease the brand’s exceptionality, while a smaller one may work to build hype around a brand, but bar customers from participating. Finding the right balance between inventory and mission will help advance the latter.
    • How large is your inventory? Which matches your brand mission and how does the size of your inventory affect the degree to which your brand is inclusive?
    • How large is your inventory and how often is it replenished? What are the pros and cons to a large inventory versus a smaller one, or an inventory built for scarcity? How might launching new product lines in limited releases or exclusive collections impact your brand equity? How can you balance hype for your brand with customer satisfaction when it comes to online waitlists and limited release models?
    • How many SKUs do you offer? Do you offer different SKUs for different body types? How can you expand the range of SKUs you offer in a sustainable way?

Shopping and retail experience

  • With the rise of digitally-native brands, companies are able to connect to more consumers than ever before, but how shoppers experience your brand either online or in person will affect how the brand itself is perceived—and how often customers will return.
    • Where are your brick-and-mortar stores located and how does this affect who has access to them? Where could you expand your square footage in a way that is sustainable business-wise, but also opens your brand to new, potentially underserved demographics?
    • How many barriers to entry are there to experiencing your brand or accessing your products? How can you break down as many barriers as possible without diluting your brand?
    • Does everyone who shops with you experience your brand in the same way? How can you merchandise your product to create an experience that appeals to the widest range of customers possible?
    • If you wholesale, how can you collaborate with retailers to in order to make the shopping experience more inclusive?
    • How easy is it to ship and deliver your products to customers in urban areas versus rural areas? How can you connect with these customers in an authentic way without a brick-and-mortar footprint?

Price point

  • The more accessible a brand is determines how inclusive it can be, especially when it comes to price point—notably, luxury is largely missing from this survey of inclusivity-minded brands.
    • What price point is your brand in terms of price point (mass market, mid-market or luxury) and how does this limit your customer base? How can you create a ladder that democratizes your product or service to allow more customers to participate and interact with your brand?
    • How can you balance accessibility with exceptionality? In other words, how can your brand or product remain exceptional, while being relevant and desirable to more people?
    • How aspirational is your brand? How does this affect your customer base and your brand equity?

Marketing

  • Marketing serves a platform to express a company’s mission and ideals, and works best when the same values are indoctrinated into as many aspects of the business as possible.
    • What mission do you promote in your advertising? How accurately does this reflect your internal company culture? How accurately does this reflect the products and experiences you provide customers?
    • How can you authentically integrate the values you profess via marketing into your business model?
    • What media do you use in your marketing—TV, online, social media, direct mail, billboards/wheatpastes—and how does this speak to different types of consumers? How can you use different media to speak to a broader range of consumers?