As diversity and inclusion issues gain greater attention in retail worldwide, a new study by retail-focused tech firm First Insight found that while men and women are largely aligned in the U.S., women in the UK rank these factors as less important than U.S. shoppers and even their UK male counterparts.
In the U.S., about half of both men and women surveyed consider having women and minorities in leadership positions as important. and feel it would benefit retailers and brands to hire Chief Diversity Officers. Just under half of U.S. men and women (48 percent versus 45 percent) ranked cultural inclusivity important, and 44 percent of both genders responded that influencers that represent diverse points of view are important.
Conversely, First Insight results show that only 39 percent of women in the UK stated that having women and minorities in leadership positions is important, compared to 43 percent of men, and only 36 percent of women feel that cultural inclusivity is important compared to 44 percent of men. Having influencers with a diverse point of view is even less important to UK women (35 percent) compared to 44 percent of men, and while more than half of male respondents (55 percent) felt that retailers would benefit from hiring a Chief Diversity Officer, only 48 percent of women in the UK felt the same way.
“Diversity and inclusivity are growing in importance in retail across the world, and broadening beyond simply offering extended sizes, to evolve with the cultures they serve, the decision makers they hire and the processes in place for taking their products to market,” said Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, in a news release. “With countless retailers and brands continuing to make significant missteps by selling offensive designs, it will be incredibly important that brands listen to their customers, test products at the early stages of the development process, and bring in a more diverse base of talent at every level of the organization to ensure products will resonate with their customers.”
Additional significant findings of the study include:
Inclusivity through extended sizing the most important diversity and inclusivity factor for women in both regions
Of note, women in both U.S. and UK regions considered inclusivity through extended sizing the most important diversity factor, with 67 percent of women in the U.S. and 63 percent of women in the UK ranking it as important. Fifty-four percent of U.S. men and 56 percent of UK men felt the same.
Women in both the U.S. and UK expect greater accountability than men after offensive product is presented
With several high-profile missteps by brands gaining significant attention over the past months, the survey also explored the impact of presenting offensive products on shoppers in both regions, and found more women expect accountability and action in how these companies respond.
- Women in both the U.S. (55 percent) and the UK (58 percent) noted that following the release of an offensive product, they would stop shopping at that retailer or brand temporarily, compared to men in the U.S. (42 percent) and the UK (47 percent).
- Eighty-three percent of women and 77 percent of men in the U.S. felt that an immediate apology was important. In the UK, 86 percent of women and 74 percent of men felt it was important.
- The majority of respondents in the U.S. (71 percent of women and 64 percent of men) and UK (76 percent or women and 63 percent of men) also felt that retailers and brands needed to establish a track record with no offensive items for six or more months before they would purchase from them again.
The survey also compared other in-store and online consumer shopping behavior trends between the U.S. and UK.
Both UK and U.S. shoppers are mobile shopping and checking Amazon before making a purchase elsewhere
Forty-two percent of U.S. respondents are shopping on mobile devices more than six times a month, versus 48 percent of those in the UK. Both U.S. (61 percent) and UK (58 percent) of shoppers check products and prices at Amazon before looking or buying elsewhere.
In physical retail, U.S. shopping is taking place most frequently at mass department stores, UK shopping most frequently at discount retailers
Thirty-nine percent of U.S. respondents are shopping at mass department stores four times a month or more, compared to 41 percent of respondents in the U.K. However, fifty-six percent of U.K. respondents are visiting discount retailers four or more times a month, compared to only 34 percent of U.S. respondents.
First Insight’s findings are based on the results of a U.S. consumer study of a targeted sample of more than 1,000 respondents fielded in September 2019, and a similar study of more than 500 respondents in the U.K. fielded simultaneously in September 2019. The study was completed through proprietary sample sources among panels who participate in online surveys.