Inclusivity fosters an environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds, with varying mindsets and ways of thinking, can collaborate effectively and perform to their highest potential to achieve their objectives (Patrick & Hollenbeck, 2021). Within organizations, a culture of inclusion ensures that every voice is valued and respected, embraces diverse viewpoints, perspectives and approaches, and encourages everyone to make unique and meaningful contributions (Licsandru & Cui, 2018). At the same time, organizations are expected to ensure greater accessibility and inclusivity externally, towards underserved communities and disadvantaged consumers, such as those belonging to underrepresented racial and age groups, or consumers with disabilities (Henderson & Williams, 2013; Black & Veloutsou, 2017).
In marketing, the pursue for diversity, equity and inclusion has become ubiquitous (Arsel et al., 2022; Park et al., 2023), with concerted efforts being observed in the way companies segment, target, serve and represent consumers (Lu et al., 2022). Yet, the drive towards inclusivity “faces many internal and external hurdles, including the fragmented nature of initiatives and the surging reactance” of some stakeholders (Kipnis et al., 2021, p. 159).
Despite challenges, consumers expect brands to take a stand on social issues (MarketingDive, 2020), actively promote inclusivity (Digiday, 2023), and act towards breaking down societal barriers. The rise of the “inclusive consumer” (McKinsey, 2021) along with the increasing popularity of activist movements, such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too, have inspired many brands to prioritize equality, diversity, and inclusivity, and to signal their commitment to these vital concerns (Sibai et al., 2021). Indeed, inclusivity is no longer just an ethical consideration; it has evolved into a moral responsibility for brand managers (Burgess et al., 2022), who must take deliberate steps to make their corporate and product brand identity more inclusive for internal (e.g. employees) and external (e.g. customers) stakeholder groups. Yet, despite its growing importance, academic research on what constitutes brand inclusivity, from consumers’ and/or firms’ perspective, has remained sparse.
This special issue aspires to further investigate the concept of brand inclusivity, its definition and dimensions, as well as explore the antecedents and consequences of brand inclusivity for firms and consumers. Some questions of interest include but are not limited to:
- How can brands become more inclusive for diverse groups of consumers and other stakeholders?
- Which are the dimensions of brand inclusivity? How can one operationalize brand inclusivity?
- What are the most appropriate theoretical lenses and methods to study the concept of brand inclusivity?
- Which are the steps and the process for designing a brand to be more inclusive?
- How can brand managers strategize to increase consumer perceptions of equality, diversity and inclusivity in the marketplace?
- Inclusivity as the new exclusivity and the role of brand inclusivity in a luxury context.
- How can luxury brands balance and strategize between becoming more inclusive while maintaining their rarity / exclusivity?
- The role of digital ownership in making brands more accessible to consumers and creating digital brand inclusivity. Does owning digital assets make consumers feel closer to the brand and as part of the brand community?
- The intersections of cocreation and inclusivity – How do different cocreation practices and strategies with various stakeholders affect brands’ perceived inclusivity among consumers?
- How does brand inclusivity affect consumer-based brand equity and brand meaning?
- The relationship between brand personality and brand inclusivity – How does brand personality affect consumers’ perceptions of inclusivity?
- Brand inclusivity and brand communities – What role do brand communities play in promoting or, on the contrary, obstructing brands’ efforts towards inclusivity?
- Which are the reputational and financial risks for brands that are becoming more inclusive?
- Conceptual and operational differences of inclusive branding in B2C and B2B contexts.
Contributions can be conceptual (including systematic literature reviews) and/or empirical (qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods). We welcome diverse perspectives on the topic of brand inclusivity, including strategy, consumer behaviour, services marketing, critical marketing, amongst others.
List of Topic Areas
The special issue will cover the following topic areas:
- Conceptualizing and operationalizing brand inclusivity, its nature and dimensions.
- Understanding the steps and process for brands to become more inclusive for diverse group of consumers as well as risk and challenges from brand inclusivity.
- Exploring the interplay between inclusivity and exclusivity/rarity for luxury brands.
- Different cocreation strategies and brand inclusivity.
- The relationship between brand inclusivity and brand personality, consumer-based brand equity and brand meaning in B2B and B2c markets.
- Brand communities and brand inclusivity.
Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available here.
Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see here.
Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”.
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.
Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 28/05/2024
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 01/07/2024
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Burgess, A., Wilkie, D. C. H., & Dolan, R. (2022). Brand approaches to diversity: a typology and research agenda. European Journal of Marketing, (ahead-of-print).
Digiday (2022). Consumers expect brands to be authentic in their DE&I commitments. Available online at https://digiday.com/?p=459690
Henderson, G. R., & Williams, J. D. (2013). From exclusion to inclusion: An introduction to the special issue on marketplace diversity and inclusion. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 32(1_suppl), 1-5.
Jain, V., Shroff, P., Merchant, A., & Bezbaruah, S. (2022). Introducing bi-directional participatory place branding: a theoretical model with multi-stakeholder perspectives. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 31(1), 73-95.
Kipnis, E., Demangeot, C., Pullig, C., Cross, S.N.N., Cui, C.C., Galalae, C., Kearney, S., Licsandru, T.C., Mari, C., Martin-Ruiz, V., Swanepoel, S., Vorster, L., Williams, J. (2021). Institutionalizing diversity and inclusion engaged marketing (DIEM) for multicultural marketplace wellbeing. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 40(2), 143-164.
Licsandru, T. C., & Cui, C. C. (2018). Subjective social inclusion: A conceptual critique for socially inclusive marketing. Journal of Business Research, 82, 330-339.
Lu, Y., Wang, Z., Yang, D., & Kakuda, N. (2022). To be or not to be equal: the impact of pride on brands associated with dissociative out-groups. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 31(1), 127-148.
Marketing Dive (2020). Kantar: Consumers want brands to take stance on social issues, but demographic divides remain. Available online at https://www.marketingdive.com/news/kantar-consumers-want-brands-to-take…
Mirzaei, A., Wilkie, D. C., & Siuki, H. (2022). Woke brand activism authenticity or the lack of it. Journal of Business Research, 139, 1-12.
Park, Y. W., Voss, G. B., & Voss, Z. G. (2023). Advancing customer diversity, equity, and inclusion: Measurement, stakeholder influence, and the role of marketing. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 51(1), 174-197.
Patrick, V. M., & Hollenbeck, C. R. (2021). Designing for all: Consumer response to inclusive design. Journal of consumer psychology, 31(2), 360-381.
Sibai, O., Mimoun, L., & Boukis, A. (2021). Authenticating brand activism: Negotiating the boundaries of free speech to make a change. Psychology & Marketing, 38(10), 1651-1669.
Black, I., & Veloutsou, C. (2017). Working consumers: Co-creation of brand identity, consumer identity and brand community identity. Journal of business research, 70, 416-429.