The Diversity within the Diversity Conundrum & Confusing Consumerism

Image: schoolsmatter

A European clothing and accessories retailer recently approached me to help them with some insight on LGBTQ customers as part of a drive to attract more customers of this consumer segment. The retailer is very popular and profitable, largely because of its instantly trendy, high fashion, and androgynous runway to racks strategy. The brand appeals to Gen Y and Z. 

Although they don't just seek the distinction to be only Gen Y and Z focused, nor their design DNA being driven by androgyny, the brand seems to be very popular because of these distinct attributes.

Their Customer Branding team decided to do some research and their concept to consumer strategy decided on launching a clothing and accessories line specifically targeting the LGBTQ customer. 

The design team came up with an idea that this particular line would be more flowery than usual and the messaging would have elements of subdued forms of erotica that want to break the shackles of conformity marching proudly towards freedom of sexuality and expression. #PRIDE #BEPROUD

On the drawing board and presentation, this idea sounded brilliant. But, with one major flaw - Being highly focused on an aspect of diversity (a segment of consumer that has a strong and shared characteristic), the design team failed to understand the bearings of diversity within the diversity.

Consider for a moment you are in an event for women and you see a vast majority of women in a room. You would naturally assume this is a great form of participation. But sadly, you don't realize that your supposed great form of participation may not be diverse at all or a true representation of that demographic. Yes, the majority are women, but how many women in that gathering are ethnic or culturally diverse? Or, women of different age groups? Women, who are differently-abled? etc. etc. 

Diversity is not essentially what meets the eye!

My assessment of the design team's understanding of the LGBTQ customer reaffirmed the narrative above.

A lot of brands fall into this trap. They fail to comprehend that selling the same product to a group of people just because they have a shared characteristic doesn't necessarily translate to profits. They need to dwell deeper into the diversity within the diversity of that cohort - being able to use different target, segmentation, and product strategies - in this case clearly selling flowery prints and subdued erotica to the LGBTQ customer is not a true representation of the diversity of this consumer segment. It's like selling combs to bald men!

I used the image above to explain my point. 

It always serves as a great reference point, pointing out to the same context, albeit differently!

- Amit Anand