Consumer Equality Equation: Unveiling the New Power Dynamic in Modern Britain

Shereen Daniels - May 25, 2023

The consumer equality landscape is shifting rapidly according to WPP issued report by Ogilvy Consulting and GroupM, The Consumer Equality Equation: Why Brands Should Care About Ethnicity and Why It Matters for Business Success.

Source: Consumer Equality Equation Report, 2022

The number of people from Global Majority groups is projected to double to almost 27% of the UK adult population by 2061 and brings with it several key opportunities:

  • Disposable Income - In 2023, the disposable income of people from Global Majority groups is projected to be £252 billion per annum, demonstrating the financial power in fostering "consumer equality."
  • Cumulative disposable income is projected to reach £3.06 trillion by 2031, increasing to £16.7 trillion by 2061.
  • Representation - 80% believe brands have a responsibility to reflect modern Britain, thereby endorsing consumer equality and 82% of respondents believe brands play an important role in shaping Britain's culture.
  • Trust is higher for brands that are more ethnically representative in their advertising - 79% of Global Majority respondents versus 60% for white respondents.

Consumer Equality (a noun) is defined as inequality that lies at the intersection of consumer experience and the social context.

The commercial benefits are obvious, however...

The importance of tapping into the experiences of the Global Majority and building trust with consumers is outlined as a key to business success.

The report highlights the shifting expectations of consumers, particularly regarding representation and customer experience, and the significant purchasing power held by Global Majority groups. This is a good thing and the work they have done over the past two years to highlight that should be commended.

However, there were some omissions in their report to and the biggest one being, while the report recognizes the commercial benefits of reducing consumer inequality, it also skirts over the reasons why consumer inequality exists in the first place. One could be forgiven for thinking that that brands and corporations magically found themselves in this position of ignoring the experiences, expectations and opportunities of these overlooked consumer groups thus enabling them to avoid taking accountability and responsibility..

Could Ogilvy, GroupM and other industry titans be more challenging in this area? 100%. In my book The Anti-Racist Organization, I refer to Level Four organizations as those who have public and private commitment and as part of that use their considerable influence to shift the practices and behaviours within their industry that doesn’t water down the issue or imply, we arrived at this point by accident.

But l guess this is a start and at least reinforces the mistakes brands and corporations will make if they ignore this growing demographic.

“What you show is more important than what you say” – David Ogilvy

For brands genuinely interested in incorporating the tenants of consumer equality in their strategic growth plans, here are some questions to consider alongside the useful information contained within this report:

  • To what extent do your leadership and functional teams understand what systemic racism is, how it impacts individuals as both employees and consumers, and what its implications are for consumer equality?
  • The report highlights the need to recognise the complexity around ethnicity and identity – how well are your brand, customer insights, and HR teams equipped to understand and respond to those differences?
  • Your approach to consumer equality should be thoughtful and considered, avoiding tokenistic or performative actions.

Let’s not forget the power we have as consumers

Whilst brands sit and ideate over how to ensure they stay relevant to changing consumer demographics, we, as consumers, must exercise our power. We can demand greater consumer equality and hold brands accountable to their promises.

2023 calls for us to have higher expectations for how brands engage with communities they don’t understand. And lower tolerance levels for window dressing. Our demands for consumer equality should be the norm, not the exception.