Fit, quality, and trust among DEI elements important to Black consumers

A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is critical to Black shoppers—but there’s more to DEI than hiring and employee-engagement practices. A lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion was the No. 1 reason that Black adults in the US were dissatisfied with their purchases, per an October 2021 study by McKinsey & Company.

At first glance, their other reasons for dissatisfaction—such as lack of product fit, quality, or value—may seem generic. But these concerns are also related to DEI, which permeates all aspects of the shopping experience. For example:

  • Product fit and expertise can relate to the differing styles and needs of Black consumers with varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Convenience and quality concerns can include a desire for wider selections of foods that reflect the diverse roots of Black consumers.
  • Trust and value are informed by Black consumers’ education and everyday experience. These concerns may be further influenced by the statuses of individual Black consumers—including whether they are immigrants or native-born Americans, high-income or low-income earners, and Gen X, seniors, or a generation in between.

When companies fail to understand the nuances of the experiences and expectations of their Black customers, they can end up making bland statements of support around holidays or take an action that backfires by betraying their lack of insight. For example, Bath & Body Works faced charges of cultural appropriation during Black History Month this year when it repackaged existing products—including watermelon-scented candles—in designs intended to represent traditional African art.

What Can Brands Do?

To understand Black consumers, companies need to acknowledge and meet their discrete diversity, equity, and inclusion needs. First, they must recognize the way these needs manifest in a desire for other attributes, such as value, convenience, and quality. Second, companies should understand how these needs vary depending on the product or industry—and, importantly, on the social status of the customer. And third, they must tailor marketing strategies and solutions to appeal to these specific needs, incorporating tactics to drive long-term engagement.

Read the full report.