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Retail Diversity Marketing Strategies and the Role of Gift Cards


Gift card programs with custom gift card packaging can support diversity marketing and cause marketing strategies for retailers

Target has long been at the forefront of diversity and inclusion in retail marketing. It began simply enough with the inclusion of diverse models in Target ads. Since then, Target has introduced merchandise marketed specifically to diverse audiences and committed to working with minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs), among other strategies.

All of this has played a role in Target’s extraordinary level of brand loyalty. Target’s efforts to embrace diversity and inclusion have been noticed by its customers, helping to set the brand apart in consumers’ minds in the crowded retail marketplace.

However, well-meaning attempts to bring diversity and inclusion to a company’s marketing efforts can backfire badly if poorly considered. Similar to the “greenwashing” that stems from disingenuous sustainability claims, several prominent retailers have been accused of “whitewashing” their marketing efforts to make the brand appear more diverse and inclusive than it really is.

Intent vs. Impact

To ensure that a retailer’s diversity and inclusion efforts are well received, it’s critical to ensure that there is alignment between the intent and the impact. Positive intent is of little value if the impact on the targeted audience is negative. Here are four steps to ensure there is always alignment between the intent and impact of your diverse marketing efforts.

#1: Identify Your Customer

Always begin by carefully identifying the segment(s) of your customer audience you wish to embrace with your diverse and inclusive marketing efforts — and why. If the targeted audience and the reasons why you’ve targeted them are not crystal clear, it’s time to stop and re-examine your motives.

#2: Solve a Problem for Them

Once you’ve identified the “who” and the “why,” turn your attention to “what.” What, exactly, are you able to do for them that advances that aspect of diversity or inclusion in some way? Focus on solving a problem whether that be creating awareness of a given topic, ensuring equitable access to a certain type of product or a championing a cause of particular concern to that targeted audience.

#3: Train Your Team

Good intentions can quickly go off the rails if employees are not included in the strategy. Ensure that all employees are aware of the marketing approach, why it is being done and how they play a key role in its success. The in-store retail experience should always align with the promises being made in the brand’s advertising.

#4: Listen Intentionally

Finally, establish a feedback mechanism to gather insights from your customers regarding the marketing programs in question. If something has been particularly well received, do more of it. If something feels insincere or misses the intended mark, do better next time.

As with Target, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to listening and improvement will help the retailer accrue increased brand loyalty. Over time, it will also result in a diverse and inclusive marketing program that actually makes a positive difference in society — in addition to merely driving bottom-line sales growth.

Gift Card Packaging Meets Diversity in Retail Marketing

Gift card programs are one of many touchpoints that retailers have available to them to show commitment to a given aspect of diversity. For example, simply offering a gift card with a Happy Kwanzaa message, a card emblazoned with Pride colors, or a card celebrating the Chinese New Year can invite a meaningful connection with customers who identify with those messages.

Blog Body Stat – Creative Packaging

Done right, the intent and the impact align perfectly:

  • It says to the customer, “I see you, I recognize you and I value you as a customer.”
  • It sets the brand apart from competitors and illustrates a commitment that speaks to the values the company holds dear.
  • It opens the door to a deeper, more personal relationship between the brand and its customer in the future.

As one of the world’s largest producers of gift and loyalty cards, Taylor offers everything needed to incorporate diversity messages into your retail marketing strategy:

  • Program strategy and ideation
  • Gift card and card carrier design
  • Data management and gift card security
  • Card production and packaging
  • Custom embellishments and finishing techniques
  • Card fulfillment for B2C, B2B or business-to-store
  • Paper-based card stock that keeps PVC plastic out of landfills

Want to align your gift card program with your diverse and inclusive marketing efforts or cause marketing strategy? Contact your Taylor representative to learn more.

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