Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) - QRCA Views Magazine, Fall 2020

While keeping up with changing expectations about how to represent society, we’ve seen brands come up against conflicts of proportionality— finding the right balance between the real and the ideal in authentic ways. They struggle with whether their roles are to be objective reflections of the world around them or change conduits that showcase groups that have histori- cally not had much media presence. Over the past year, several projects across a wide range of industries allowed us to see how messaging and imagery can cause brands to succeed or fall short of representing the world around them. Why Should Companies Be Concerned about Diversity and Inclusivity? Our experiences suggest that brands prioritize diverse and inclusive repre- sentation for the following reasons: • A desire for marketing to reflect the real world or an idealized view of it. • A recognition that everyone has biases and a belief that more exposure to diversity can help mitigate them. • An awareness that diverse representa- tion is what industry and society expect from the brand. • A belief that showing and including more diversity in the workplace and in advertising will help its reputation and success. It is also important to realize that the prominence of diversity in advertising is a global trend, with brands often taking different approaches in different countries. For instance, Brazilian marketers showcase more racially-diverse models, same-sex couples, and people B rands’ appreciation of diversity and inclusivity in communications is crucial to staying relevant and relatable to their target audiences. As researchers, our jobs often involve helping brands understand their audiences’ reactions to marketing and advertising through this lens. Does the brand sound authentic? Is it relatable? Does it seem genuinely in-touch or is it trying too hard? n TOOLBOX n What QRCs Can Do to Ensure Diversity and Inclusion in Advertising Research 46 QRCA VIEWS FALL 2020 www.qrca.org