- A majority (89%) of marketers report that the importance of working with diverse marketing and advertising suppliers has increased over the past year, with 58% of that cohort stating the increase has been significant, according to a new survey of member marketers by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).
- The higher premium on diverse suppliers is a result of a period marked by widespread protests for racial justice and equality and a larger focus on corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, "The Growth of Supplier Diversity" study revealed. Sixty-nine percent of ANA member marketers claim to now have strategies in place to hire suppliers with more diverse backgrounds.
- Gaps in the market persist, with the ANA noting that the pool of diverse-owned firms in marketing and advertising is small. The trade group recommended that marketers must be open to new ways of conducting business to widen their net, including by investing more in internal teams, relaxing payment terms and looking beyond conventional metrics.
The ANA's latest supplier diversity report, conducted in March among 112 client-side marketers, suggests that brands are largely aware of the shortcomings in their partnership models, with a majority implementing strategic plans to address those gaps. The research is the latest to underpin how the social trials of the past year have accelerated conversations around improving DEI in marketing, which has historically been lacking even as U.S. consumers grow more diverse.
A diverse supplier program, according to the ANA, encompasses a wide range of groups, including women-owned, ethnic- or minority-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ-owned, disability-owned and small business firms. At least 75% of respondents to the ANA's survey work with some form of diverse supplier, while more than 50% plan to spend more in the next year on Black-, women- and Hispanic-owned companies. Among diverse suppliers, marketers currently invest the most in women-owned companies, followed by Hispanic-owned, small business and Black-owned firms.
The ANA has made bringing greater diversity to marketing a bigger ticket item through initiatives like the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) formed in 2016. AIMM offers a list of diverse suppliers certified by organizations like the National Minority Supplier Development Council, and the ANA recommends marketers seek out certified partners for their DEI strategies. Given the comparatively small pool of diverse suppliers overall, the ANA is also pushing marketers and agencies to use their resources to foster the development of more diverse-owned media.
The organization's supplier report follows an outpouring of pledges to invest more in diverse-owned media from agencies and brands alike. McDonald's last week said it would more than double its investments in diverse-owned media, including increasing the allocation of national advertising dollars for Black-owned businesses from 2% to 5% by 2024. The announcement dropped the same day as a lawsuit from Allen Media Group alleging a pattern of racial stereotyping and refusals to contract at the fast-food giant. The complaint, one of several racial discrimination lawsuits against McDonald's, seeks $10 billion in damages.
Media mogul Byron Allen, Allen Media Group's owner, also recently participated in a campaign to pressure General Motors to up its spending with Black-owned groups. The Detroit-based automaker in response released an action plan with a goal of putting 8% of its spending toward Black-owned media by 2025.