Microsoft, the tech giant, has introduced a definition called “inclusive marketing” that can help brand custodians embed accessibility into their innovation efforts, strategies and campaigns.

“What is inclusive marketing?” MJ DePalma, senior global multicultural and inclusive marketing manager at Microsoft Advertising, asked delegates at Advertising Week New York 2019.

“We’ve developed the definition to help frame it: it’s either products, services or experiences that reach people in ways that the can resonate, and afterwards remain an indelible experience that fuels long-term loyalty and growth.”

A case in point involves Microsoft’s Adaptive Controller, a device that can be customised to match the needs and preferences of Xbox gamers with disabilities.

DePalma pointed to this offering as an example of how thinking about different audiences can stimulate creativity and innovation in new ways – and in a manner that may ultimately have multiple applications. (For more, read WARC's report: How Microsoft defines and pursues inclusive marketing.)

“What kind of insight is the most important insight you think that you could have – that could drive innovation?” she asked. “It’s how someone’s excluded. If you uncover an exclusion, you can figure out how to step into that gap.”

Looking forward, there might soon be a further – and very large –prospective audience for this offering, too. “I make the argument that in the not too distant future, we’re going to have geriatric gamers,” DePalma said.

DePalma urged brand custodians to build inclusivity “in from the beginning of your campaigns; build it into the beginning of creating your assets” rather than treating such an important issue as a post-hoc consideration.

And, she argued, an inclusive approach for groups with specific needs can yield wider payoffs for brands. A proof point: adding text descriptions to audiovisual content can help people with visual impairments who are using screen readers to navigate the web.

At the same time, it makes this material accessible to search engines, and thus boosts its status on the listings from Google and Bing. “So, it’s two for one there,” she said.

DePalma’s overall advice for brand custodians who want to progress in this area is to examine their current practices and identify the opportunities to enhance inclusivity.

“It can be inclusive products, inclusive audiences or an inclusive strategy. It could be what you market, who you market to, or how you market to them,” she said.

Sourced from WARC