As the new year begins to gain traction and the trend predictions for the year start to become realities, it’s important to stop and consider what stories audiences really want to see.
If the last two years inform any usable foresight, there will be an assortment of challenges and marketers will need to be agile in making communication that feels in step with culture.
But new challenges bring new opportunities as well, and brands will need to be decisive and authentic in how they navigate being in culture in this new year.
It goes without saying that the role of the marketer continues to be a dual role of straddling between solving the business problems of brands and addressing the problems of society at large. And, as the world continues to be more inclusive, this year presents the challenging opportunity of being even more inclusive in communication.
What is ‘inclusive’ in SA?
But inclusive is a broad term, and in a country dubbed the ‘Rainbow Nation’ almost three decades ago, and what does this actually mean for South Africa?
Inclusivity in marketing means looking at how we can focus in on how gender, age, race, income, sexuality, language, location can be more representative of different audiences and their unique needs.
In 2022 this means challenging ourselves to interrogate who we presume the audience is, versus who the audience actually is.
The positive note is that, by and large, we are progressing in the right direction. As the society grapples with tackling gender-based violence (GBV) marketers have joined the conversation with thoughtful solutions. Brands such as Carling Black Label, 1st for Women and DStv have been some of the most vocal in shifting the narrative. Undoubtably there is much more work to be done.
The discussion around inclusivity also extends beyond gender to other topics that are increasingly becoming more prevalent in culture as they are to marketers. In looking at sexuality alone, data from Statista shows that South Africans’ acceptance of homosexuality grew from 32% in 2013 to 54% in 2019.
While this is remarkable positive growth, there is still much progress to be made – and marketing plays a strong role in shifting the narrative. This means there needs to be authentic communication and representation for the LGBTQI+ community, with brands working to create work that speaks to their tensions.
Ultimately, we’re at that stage in the year where we can make the choices that will have serious impact for the months ahead. The challenge is for each of us to find the opportunities to not only be more inclusive in our communication, but do so in ways that are authentic and built on genuine insight.
Jordan Major is a senior strategist and writer who believes in the power of collaborating with culture to connect brands to their customers. In his role at RAPT Creative he works alongside the creative studio to ensure all work is informed by insights and data to ensure that the work is executed holistically in unique territories and across the relevant channels.
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