Inclusion and diversity have been hot topics for many years, and many significant changes are happening. There have been improvements in the workplace, education, politics, restaurants, and more.
Although we are moving in the right direction, we still have a long way to go. One area that is just recently starting to adapt is the retail industry. Statistics on consumer experiences to date prove that retailers must focus on inclusion.
- 38% of consumers trust a brand that shows they are inclusive
- 71% expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion in all marketing efforts
- 59% are more loyal to inclusive brands
You may ask, what is inclusion, and how does it apply to a clothing boutique?
Inclusion vs. Diversity
Inclusion goes hand in hand with diversity, and while they are often used interchangeably, they aren’t the same. Diversity refers to the many factors that make us different, such as age, cultural background, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, etc.
Retailers aim to embrace these differences and recognize that each person can bring a new perspective on how to improve the business.
Inclusion goes beyond recognizing differences between consumers and employees; your actions make them feel respected, valued, and essential to the company’s success. Inclusion focuses more on how well you make someone feel like they belong.
Inclusion and Your Boutique
To improve inclusion in a clothing boutique, start making small changes in each area of your business. Examples include management, employees, store location, marketing, displays, and the clothing you sell.
If your staff lacks diversity, it may be time to improve recruiting efforts to attract employees who can offer new perspectives and reach new customers. Rather than focusing only on educational background and retail experience, find new staff who can relate to and build customer relationships. Having a diverse team opens the door to attracting a diverse customer base.
Hiring is just the starting point, though. You must also make efforts to ensure inclusion. Try the following:
- Treat everyone the same
- Provide a safe space where employees can discuss inclusion respectfully and brainstorm ideas
- Provide diversity training for you and your staff
- Ask for feedback from employees and customers
Where you sell your clothing matters. For example, selling formal gowns in a small agricultural area may be challenging. You may attract teen girls going to the prom but not many others. Your boutique location must be inclusive. It must provide a shopping experience for all potential customers, not just a small sector.
Work with your diverse team members to discover locations that attract diverse customers. They will want to visit your boutique because they don’t feel out of place or different from everyone else while shopping.
Marketing and Display Inclusion
Marketing may be the most crucial factor when attracting and including customers. Just like displays, marketing campaigns show off your clothing and how they meet the needs of every customer. To include customers from all cultures, have mannequins that represent all cultures.
Ad campaigns and social media posts must also show inclusion, using appropriate models, language, and styles. Marketing should always appear natural and easy, not forced or fake. Focus on showing everyday adventures and lifestyle events that match those of your customers.
Create a marketing team from your diverse staff to ensure your ads and displays represent all perspectives.
Fashion Product Inclusion
Diverse customers have diverse wants and needs. The products you sell in your boutique should fulfill their wants and needs. To be inclusive, upgrade labels, displays, and promotions to make customers feel like they belong in your shop. Below are a few tips for building product inclusion:
- Get rid of store sections like “Plus-Size or Women”
- Include many different shades of beauty products to match all skin colors
- Use models in ads with different ethnicities, disabilities, ages, heights, etc.
- Create inclusive shopping experiences
When expanding your customer base to be more inclusive, think way beyond race, age, and gender. Think visually impaired, hard of hearing, developmentally or physically disabled. Think about how you want to include gender-neutral, transgender, and cisgender.
Obviously, you can’t make every person with differences a priority, although that would be great. In the end, you should continue to stick with your brand’s mission and vision, which now includes being more inclusive. Use the strengths of your diverse staff to help you decide which customers to target the most.
Inclusion When Buying Wholesale Clothing
Where you buy fashion products to sell in your boutique must support your inclusion efforts. Diversity and inclusion must be a priority on your end and on the end of the wholesaler. On your end, search for wholesale suppliers that offer products that support your inclusion goals.
Research their team to ensure they hire diverse work groups. Attend trade shows to meet them in person and ask questions regarding inclusion. The same diversity and inclusion you incorporate into your boutique should be represented in your wholesaler.
Take time to review the wholesale supplier’s marketing campaigns, contracts, designers, and manufacturers from which they purchase. How they present their products and services, tell you which type of retailers they want as their customers.
If you haven’t started planning for inclusion, it’s time. If it seems a bit overwhelming, use the below tips as a checklist of changes to improve your boutique’s diversity and inclusion at all levels.
- Build your diversity and inclusion team
- Stay up-to-date with research regarding inclusion methods
- Find an inclusive wholesale supplier
- Purchase products with the most inclusivity
- Create inclusive marketing campaigns, displays, and shopping experiences
- Get feedback from customers, community, staff, etc.
- Keep improving and adapting
Don’t forget to have fun. Inclusion in the retail industry means you are part of a movement to make customers happy and meet their needs. It’s a win for everyone, especially those who have been left out of many great opportunities. Celebrate your boutique and the personal and professional rewards you will receive from being more inclusive.