What the Research Tells Us About Creating Inclusive Markets

Earlier this month, we wrote about the Intentionally Inclusive Market — a market in which we get to know the full range of our customer segment from day one, and then intentionally build products that include all kinds of people who will benefit from your product. It starts with getting to know all of your potential customers.

Fortunately, there are a lot of people who have thought about this idea so this week we’re digging into the following four articles I’ve found particularly helpful.

To be more inclusive, you first need to understand exactly what exclusion looks like.

Annie Jean-Baptiste in Fast Company (6-Minute Read)

Overview: We may think that to be inclusive with our product means that we immediately go out and find a wide group of people we want to work with. But, one way to be more inclusive is to start by asking, “How are we currently being exclusive” with our current product?

Excerpt: “Unfortunately, companies often build products for a small subset of people familiar to and often similar to the people creating the product; this is called the ‘like me’ bias. What happens is that a majority group frames the persona of the target user and the core business challenge; as a result, they fail to include people who have been historically underserved by the industry overall, whatever that industry happens to be — tech, finance, fashion, entertainment, and the list goes on. An example of this might be picking a name for a product and not realizing that it means something completely different, or even offensive in another language.”

Things to consider when designing your (inclusive) product.

Katerina Samoilis in UX Collective (9-Minute Read)

Overview: I appreciate Katerina’s stories and to-the-point advice. She does a great job talking about how we can focus on our language, technology, demographic of our (current and potential) customers, and our product’s accessibility to be inclusive at every stage of the startup journey.

Excerpt: “As UX designers it is our job to bring the human element into a digital product. We design for inclusivity, we consider our audience and are directly informed by what they have to say. Being the advocate of the user, empathising with their unique circumstances and needs and giving them a voice is what has led many of us, including me, to pursue this career…

When thinking about inclusivity of this type, I remember an anecdote from a brilliant mentor I had, who was describing the product team at a luxury travel company he worked for. Initially, it comprised of young singles. As it started to grow and include people with families, they realised their family holiday offering was extremely poor, as their product was centered around excursions for adults and didn’t account for families with children. The product team was so caught up in their own unique perspective, that they missed a huge (and extremely profitable) customer segment. Thankfully they managed to rectify this, but only when the team started to diversify.”

Salesforce shared the specific marketing and communication tactics they use to show make their products inclusive.

Alexandra Siegel in Salesforce’s 360 Blog (5-Minute Read)

Overview: You may have the most inclusive product, ready to get in the hands of your target (diverse) market. Yet, without the right type of inclusive marketing, your product may never resonate. Salesforce found this out and as a result hired Alexandra Siegel, who ended up writing this great post on the specific ways that Salesforce is being inclusive in their marketing and communications.

Excerpt: “As our societies become more diverse and interconnected, it’s more important than ever that companies are thoughtful about the messages, images, voices, and values that represent their brands — as well as their greater social impact. According to Salesforce’s new research, 90% of consumers believe that businesses have a responsibility to look beyond profit and improve the state of the world. Synchronously, Nielsen reports that ‘with 43% of the 75 million Millennials in the U.S. identifying as African American, Hispanic, or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy.’”

How to illuminate blind spots when designing for diversity.

Aarron Walter in Inside Design (6-Minute Read)

Overview: In this article, the author illuminates key takeaways from a podcast with the creators of Designing for Diversity (D4D), which is a framework that helps designers uncover blind spots around bias in design. One unique tip they share is to implement a feedback loop to make sure you circle back to your customers on a regular basis to make sure your product is serving your full potential market.

Excerpt: “To design is to be human. Everything that has been created has been designed, either consciously or unconsciously, and therefore can be redesigned…Jahan and Boyuan’s work centers around the idea of “cultural defaults,” or the unexamined biases, like the idea of white as default, that can limit the impact of a particular product and can even create harmful externalities. They believe that everyone has their own cultural defaults — but that some are more harmful than others. What assumptions are you bringing to the table? What are you able to speak to? What aren’t you? Knowing and naming your biases can make clear what is not being represented in a conversation or product and can provide next steps on what voices should be consulted.”

Helping to give startups the power to create and grow their business wherever they are as CEO of GAN: @GANconnect