NEWS7 August 2020

Diversity in ads boosts effectiveness, study finds

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GLOBAL – Including greater diversity of ethnicity and skin colour in adverts increases their effectiveness and has a positive impact on the brand’s perception as progressive, suggests research from Kantar.

Different coloured paper faces

Kantar evaluated advertisements in numerous countries worldwide using its creative development tool Link, which analyses advertisements using behavioural analysis, survey data and neuroscience. It is based on a database of more than 8,000 adverts.

The research found that enjoyment of an advert rose by five percentage points and involvement in the advert by seven when people from different ethnic backgrounds featured compared with adverts without diversity. 

The likelihood of short-term sales rose by six percentage points when adverts featured greater diversity, and there was a seven and eight percentage increase respectively in ‘power contribution’ – an advert’s likelihood of contributing to equity – and ‘emotional difference’, which covers being perceived as ‘progressive’.

Kantar also found that brands with a strong purpose grew more than twice as fast as those that were classed as ‘medium’ or ‘low’ for having purpose.

However, there had to be a fit between the brand and the purpose for there to be a positive effect on the company, according to the research.

The study identified 24% of adverts worldwide that feature diversity of skin colour and 19% with people of different ethnic origins.

The UK was the country in the study that had the highest proportion of advertisements showing different ethnic origins ( 38%) and second highest for diverse skin colours ( 48%) after Brazil ( 51%), Kantar’s research found.

Kantar found that the greatest diversity was broadly seen in English-speaking countries, Western Europe and in some Latin American countries.

The proportion of adverts including people of different ethnic origins or skin colours were almost always in line with or greater than the ethnic minority population. Kantar said this suggests people are being exposed to diversity through advertising, but warned against concluding this was the case for all adverts.

Pharmaceuticals, home improvement and household cleaning products were the least likely to have a diverse range of people in their adverts, while up to a third of ads in appliance and technology, services and retails did include different ethnicities or skin colours.