Diversity in marketing plays a pivotal role in shaping meaningful connections and driving impactful campaigns. More of a transformative strategy than a trend, inclusivity in media and marketing is an expansive landscape that is becoming an essential building block of successful outreach and positioning. 

For schools, prioritizing diverse and inclusive marketing leads to a more trustworthy reputation, better relationships with their student community, and provides a physical demonstration of their commitment to fostering an inclusive school environment. It’s not only about appealing to a broader audience but about making a genuine connection with consumers across all demographics.

Representation Matters in School Marketing

In a recent survey conducted by Deloitte spanning 11,500 global consumers, a notable trend emerged: a growing cultural sensitivity among consumers. Specifically, individuals aged 18 to 25 reported a heightened awareness of inclusive advertising and its influence on their purchasing decisions compared to consumers aged 46 and above. (Source) Moreover, findings from a recent Facebook study revealed that advertising campaigns featuring diverse representation achieved higher rates of ad recall in 90% of simulated scenarios. (Source) Adding to this, a recent report by Google highlighted that 64% of consumers took some form of action after encountering advertisements perceived as diverse or inclusive. Notably, these actions varied across demographic groups, with  Latinx+ (85%), LGBTQ (85%), Black (79%), Asian/Pacific Islander (79%), Millennial (77%), and teens (76%) showing elevated rates of engagement in response to inclusive advertisements. (Source) As the demographic of influential young consumers continues to expand, it’s imperative for school leadership to prioritize diverse and inclusive marketing strategies to effectively connect with their target audiences.

Four teenage students in school hallway laughing and talking, wearing backpacks.

Aligning Representation With Accessibility & Core Values

Authentic representation fosters a sense of belonging among current students, reassures parents, and attracts prospective families who can envision their children thriving in an environment that values and celebrates diversity. Beyond bolstering inclusivity, authentic representation also cultivates trust by aligning the school’s external image with its core values, thus contributing to a positive reputation and fostering community rapport. But this doesn’t just refer to race or sexual orientation. According to the CDC, over one in four U.S. adults live with some form of physical or mental disability, encompassing impairments in mobility, cognition, independent living, hearing, vision, and self-care. (Source) Differentiators such as accessibility, language inclusivity, and body positivity are just as important to consider in all of your communication – especially to students. 

While traditional print media poses challenges in achieving equity, it remains crucial to address accessibility concerns, particularly if your communication heavily relies on traditional media. To ensure inclusivity, especially in digital communication, practical steps such as utilizing alt text in images and closed captions in videos are essential. Notably, a recent report indicates that organizations with inaccessible websites lose approximately $6.9 billion annually to competitors with more accessible sites. (Source)

Inclusion Through Language

Beyond accessibility, inclusive language is another consideration–more specifically, blended language and gender-inclusive language. Blended language ensures that messages are presented in various languages and formats to ensure accessibility and understanding for all individuals. On the other hand, gender-inclusive language involves addressing individuals based on their gender identity, avoiding exclusive terms or stereotypes. (Source) According to a McKinsey study, More than one third of consumers value organizations that don’t classify products by gender. For Gen Z, that number jumps to nearly half of consumers. (Source)  By avoiding exclusive terms or stereotypes, schools can create content that speaks to a broader audience, making individuals feel seen and represented. 

Representation in Body Positivity 

An often overlooked facet of inclusive communication is the promotion of body positivity, which is crucial for individuals of all genders. Consider the challenges faced by young people during adolescence, where hormonal changes and the dynamics of a school environment filled with peers navigating similar changes can exacerbate stress levels, leading to comparisons and self-criticism. Body positivity holds significant importance for younger generations, with 61% of Gen-Z participants in a recent survey expressing that they consider body positive representation to be either somewhat important or very important. (Source) Ensuring representation of diverse body types in school marketing materials is fundamental to nurturing a healthy and inclusive environment, where every student feels valued and seen.

Having a comprehensive understanding of the uniqueness and individuality of your students should lead the way as you develop new campaigns and programs to reach your students. As education marketers, understanding the ripple effect on trust and loyalty translates into a broader reach and increased conversions. When authenticity leads the way, marketing materials become more than visuals. Authenticity should serve as the guiding principle, ensuring that marketing materials transcend superficial diversity, equity, and inclusion checkboxes to embody a genuine dedication to embracing diversity and nurturing inclusion.

Kandula partners with educational institutions whose mission is to improve their reputation in the community, build stronger partnerships, find new funding sources and increase enrollment. To learn more about our services and how we can help your school, please visit us at https://kandulacommunications.com/for-educators/.

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