Facing the Challenge of Implicit Bias in Marketing

Last Updated on October 16, 2020 by BrodNeil

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Implicit bias in marketing negatively affects how a business relays its message to its audience. Marketers face the tough challenge of uncovering their own prejudices and managing implicit bias so that the messages they convey are neutral, non-judgmental, and inclusive.

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Understanding implicit bias

Implicit bias or unconscious bias refers to the built-in stereotypes that we have and our unconscious preferences towards situations and people based on race, appearance, gender, and age. While we are not aware of these biases, it is important to uncover and manage these prejudices, because these biases affect our actions and our behavior.

Implicit bias in marketing

It is the job of the marketing people to find and create images, make stories, develop websites, and create content to promote their business or service. These people are just like any other individual with personal biases. These biases can influence what they create. If marketers and content creators are not aware of such biases and even if it is not intentional, the message they convey could mean something different and could possibly worsen social problems on diversity and equality.

Examples of implicit bias in marketing

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There are many situations wherein implicit bias is conveyed in marketing. Some of the most common stereotypes that can easily be observed in marketing are the following:

  • Boys are usually featured in sports-related ads like football, when girls are into these sports, too.
  • Females are almost always used for content that features dancing, cooking, baking, and homemaking.
  • Traditional nuclear families are mostly featured in real estate businesses, when their market also includes bachelors, single moms, or even retired seniors.
  • Company CEOs are usually depicted as tall men or women.

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Impact of implicit bias in marketing

Implicit bias in marketing can make some people feel left out in the process. They might feel they are excluded. As a result, some people may prefer those companies who are more inclusive and who are more sensitive to diversity when it comes to their marketing campaigns.

Another impact of implicit bias in marketing is the influence they have on social problems, such as exclusion, discrimination, racism, and injustice. Although unintentional, unconscious biases reflected in the marketing materials of businesses can add to the tension that such social problems bring to the society.

How to manage implicit bias in marketing

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While marketers are unaware of their implicit biases, it does not mean they can just accept them and leave them as they are. The following are some things that can be done to manage implicit bias in marketing:

  • Make a conscious effort in creating content and marketing materials that promote diversity, inclusion, and equality;
  • Practice empathy to help see how others might feel about the materials and content being created;
  • Review marketing materials to ensure they do not reflect implicit biases; and
  • Companies can include cultural intelligence training and education to their marketing staff

Facing the challenge

Fighting stereotypes may not be easy. After all, these biases are unavoidable. However, facing the challenge and rising up to these implicit biases may be one of the best things people in the marketing can do to support diversity and help reduce existing social tensions through the materials and content they make and promote.

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