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Unraveling the multidimensional consumer tapestry: The journey to inclusive marketing

By Stephanie Dwyer | Strategic Advisor



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November 21, 2023 | 9 min read

Everyone says they’re striving towards more inclusive marketing, but how can we actually get there? Stephanie Dwyer of agency Coegi shares four steps for inclusivity in the complex modern customer journey.

A close-up of multi-colored fibers in a piece of fabric

How can marketers weave inclusivity into the rich tapestry of modern marketing ecosystems? / Pedro Vit via Unsplash

The modern consumer is a vibrant and intricate tapestry, woven from myriad complex and ever-evolving threads. Yet too many marketers still use outdated marketing methods relying on superficial audience characteristics to create one-size-fits-all campaigns.

Building long-lasting relationships with consumers requires a willingness to embrace a foundationally inclusive approach. In doing so, we can bridge the gap between social and cultural shifts that are shaping people’s identities.

This kind of holistic understanding of consumer identity requires us to work with diverse fibers rooted in authenticity, resilience, and adaptability – and to thread those together to form a true representation of who they are.

Embracing this transformational approach requires marketers to follow a four-step multi-stage pattern.

1. Unlearn: Mindful introspection, recognition, and education

As we craft audience strategies, it's critical to challenge our assumptions and uncover hidden biases that may be influencing our approach.

Biases can be rooted in situational ambiguities or learned stereotypes. To address them, we must first practice radical acceptance, acknowledging our own biases with self-compassion. This allows us to examine our subconscious beliefs and behaviors, which often shape our decision-making without our full awareness. Understanding these biases is crucial for developing inclusive and effective audience strategies.

To enhance our understanding, consider taking an implicit bias or association test. Encourage your team to practice perspective-taking or cloaking exercises, which can help them empathize with the lived experiences of target audiences. Then, welcome external perspectives by partnering with DEI experts to widen your knowledge, boost your skills, and build a more welcoming and inclusive company culture. This will help challenge internal biases and assumptions, leading to a more inclusive and effective audience strategy.

Remember, acknowledging biases is not about self-criticism; it's about personal growth and creating more effective strategies.

2. Listen: Human-centric landscape analysis

In today’s marketing landscape, it’s crucial to step away from outdated textbook approaches and embrace a more human-centered research methodology. Our audiences are not only a collection of data points made up of superficial characteristics, but rather groups of individuals with unique experiences and perspectives. Even with budgetary limitations, prioritizing inclusive marketing is not just a noble endeavor; it’s a strategic investment in brand success.

So, ditch the superficial checkbox diversity approach and focus on genuinely understanding your customers’ needs and aspirations. Embrace immersive audience research tools like social listening, accessibility and usability testing, and customer journey mapping. Use cost-effective methods like the KickGlass ID Matrix and C.A.R.E.S. framework for social well-being framework.

By humanizing your research and prioritizing inclusive marketing, you can breathe life into your marketing efforts, creating a more authentic, engaging, and meaningful experience for customers – an experience that fosters brand loyalty, customer satisfaction, and business growth.

3. Evolve: Multidimensional consumer identities

Personalization is the key to unlocking customer loyalty in today’s market. To truly connect with audiences, embrace the power of data-driven insights and craft marketing campaigns that speak directly to their individual needs and preferences.

Adopting a holistic approach to data analysis, encompassing both qualitative and quantitative elements, is essential for a well-rounded understanding of your customer base. Create a continuous feedback loop, establishing a cycle between the ‘what,’ ‘so what,’ and ‘now what’ to refine your brand’s voice and adapt to ever-evolving consumer preferences.

Key metrics and KPIs serve as your compass, guiding you toward your business goals while celebrating customer differences. Embrace the fluidity of the consumer landscape and its impact on persona building and segmentation. Regular focus groups and interviews provide valuable insights into personal experiences, shaping authentic marketing messages that resonate.

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4. Dynamize: Strategic adaptability

By aligning your brand values with the unique experiences shaping who your target audience is, you can now elevate your full-funnel approach to create long-lasting relationships.

Start by diving deeper into consumer desires with comprehensive keyword research, uncovering hidden needs and insights beyond surface-level searches. Employ brand safety tools to navigate intent and context, mitigating risks and optimizing brand awareness.

Then, emphasize authenticity by amplifying diverse consumer voices through your content. Collaborate with creators from their own communities, fostering a sense of inclusion and relatability. Employ data connectivity platforms to gain insights into customer interactions, enabling the delivery of personalized messages that resonate with their needs and interests, while staying true to your brand’s core values.

Supplement this with campaign messaging and visuals that celebrate individuality, allowing everyone to feel seen and heard. Avoid exclusionary, biased, or stereotypical messaging by rigorously reviewing marketing materials with an inclusive language guide and bias detection tools, then test marketing materials with an accessibility tool.

If custom images are not within your budget, explore inclusive stock image libraries that reflect diversity and authenticity. Continuously optimize your messaging to avoid clashing with consumer self and social identities. Monitor the effectiveness of your message through social listening, evaluation of desired outcomes, and other forms of customer feedback.

Create lasting connections through personalized omnichannel engagement. Use sequential messaging on a demand-side platform to trigger and prime a more constructive identity. Remain agile in crafting authentic campaigns that truly represent the real-life experiences of your audience by leveraging analytics tools and brand intent.

Reframing marketing strategies to be more inclusive takes time, so be patient and consistent with your efforts to break down internal biases, optimizing your approach as you go. By disrupting your current business model to prioritize the value of DEI from the inside out, you are weaving a holistic tapestry that feeds this need to shift towards an inclusive approach to purposefully target our consumers.

This commitment to inclusivity extends to your marketing campaigns, elevating the voices of marginalized groups and making a positive social impact.

Marketing Agency Leadership Brand Strategy

Content by The Drum Network member:


Coegi is an independent digital agency providing services across digital strategy, media buying, paid social, search and influencer campaigns. We bring together people, platforms and tech partners to create custom marketing solutions focused on your business results.

While pioneering the programmatic landscape since 2014, Coegi has executed thousands of campaigns for over 400 brands and agencies across all digital channels.

With an agnostic approach to data and technology, Coegi’s team of digital experts offers Fortune 500 solutions for agencies and brands of every size for every vertical and objective.

Coegi makes digital marketing easy through an all-in-one partnership that strives to deliver flawless campaigns while empowering their partners to become smarter marketers in a constantly-evolving digital world.

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