Diversity is in-demand worldwide. This 2022 retail trend is welcome news for diverse suppliers looking for growth abroad. Right now, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are trying to manage the risk of tighter profit margins. Many diverse suppliers now seek new sales opportunities, especially as global e-commerce and digital advertising make it easier for them to sell anywhere.
Let’s see what diversity looks like in international markets, including how market gaps give diverse suppliers new ways to satisfy underserved consumers and improve their top line.
What diversity looks like around the world
Globally, we’re seeing a rise in conscious consumerism, where consumers shop according to their values. For instance:
- 82% of shoppers want a brand’s values to align with their own;1 Silberstein, Nicole. Harris Poll: 82% of Consumers Want a Brand’s Values to Align with Their Own. Retail Touchpoints. April 27, 2022.
- 32% of global consumers will buy from brands that support social and political issues that align with their values; and2 Evans, Michelle. Three Ways The Future Retail Store Will Change. Forbes. December 1, 2021.
- 27% will boycott brands that do not.3 Evans, Michelle. Three Ways The Future Retail Store Will Change. Forbes. December 1, 2021.
Diversity in global retail can look like grocery retailers building food assortments that serve a range of cultures and faiths, or pharmacies filled with health and beauty brands catering to a range of races and ethnicities.
Here are some English-speaking global markets where diversity is in demand.
One million of the six million businesses in the U.K. are owned by ethnic minority business people. They generate around £74 billion ($91 billion U.S.) for the U.K. economy each year and employ about 3 million workers, accounting for 10% of the U.K. workforce.4 Barclay, Liz. Minority Businesses Matter. Small Business Commissioner. October 14, 2021. ,5 MSDUK. The Ethnic Minority Owned (EMB) certification helps U.K. businesses that are at least 51% owned by individuals of ethnic origin differentiate themselves and gain greater market access.6 MSDUK.
U.K. grocery leader Tesco supports having at least 30% of supervisory and management roles at direct suppliers occupied by women by the end of 2025 to increase diverse representation in leadership.7 Tesco.
Age diversity is also chic. U.K. beauty brand Trinny London targets older women who feel under-represented in the beauty industry by smashing ageist sales practices. Its marketing campaigns never use professional models. Instead, campaigns feature faces that “vary widely in skin texture and colour, with acne and wrinkles left unedited,” helping Trinny London stand out and compete with unapologetic authenticity and acceptance.8 Shoaib, Maliha. Trinny Woodall on how to market beauty to an older consumer. Vogue Business. January 31, 2022.
A recent survey found that Canadians consider Walmart the top champion of diversity in Canada. Its workforce and advertising reflect a range of ethnicities, ages, and physical abilities, and its ads run in multiple languages to maximize relevance, reach, and cultural sensitivity.9 Powell, Chris. Walmart Canada tops diversity and inclusivity study. Canadian Grocer. October 16, 2020.
To adapt to Canadians’ eclectic tastes, grocery leader Loblaw acquired leading Asian hypermarket chain, T&T, many years ago. Rival Sobeys expanded its South Asian-inspired Chalo! FreshCo discount format to target regions with the largest ethnic populations.10 Stewart, Samuel. Shaping Vancouver’s Retail Market: Diversity, Density and Digital. The Consumer Goods Forum. May 15, 2019.
Since 22% of Canadians identify as visible minorities, representation is vital in the competitive beauty category. As such, Sephora Canada will dedicate 25% of its brand offering to Black, Indigenous, and people of color, or BIPOC-owned brands by 2026, 10% above The Fifteen Percent Pledge.11 Sephora Canada To Dedicate 25% of Offerings To BIPOC-Owned Brands. Retail Insider. May 18, 2021.
To help diverse suppliers stand out, the Certified Diverse Suppliers certification distinguishes underrepresented groups including Veteran-owned and disabled-owned businesses.12 IWSCC.
A global index that ranks organizations’ diversity practices ranked supermarket giant Woolworths as the top firm in Australia.13 Hui-Miller, Jo-Anne. Real diversity boosts business’ bottom line. Inside Retail. June 22, 2017. Sourcing products from diverse suppliers helps Woolworths serve Australia’s multicultural customer base and workforce.
In addition, Woolworths’ diversity efforts include welcoming underrepresented groups, including women, those with a visible disability, and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ).
To accommodate the dietary requirements of consumers across diverse faiths, Woolworths sells a wide range of products certified Pareve by Kosher Australia and its own brand of Halal-certified food products.14 Kosher Australia. ,15 Hogan, Ruth. Woolworths reveals plans to introduce halal range. Inside FMCG. January 21, 2019.
Supplier diversity leadership around the world
Several world-renowned retailers and brands celebrate and prioritize supplier diversity. For instance:
- Amazon supports diverse sellers, using certifications to help businesses identify as small, minority, woman, veteran, and LGBT-owned.16 Amazon Business.
- Best Buy will spend at least $1.2 billion with businesses owned by members of the BIPOC community by 2025.17 The rise of the inclusive consumer. McKinsey & Company. February 8, 2022.
- The Coca-Cola Company will spend an additional $500 million over five years with Black-owned suppliers, more than double its previous commitment.18 The rise of the inclusive consumer. McKinsey & Company. February 8, 2022.
- Ulta Beauty places Black-owned brands in prime locations in stores and features Black-owned brands in ads and email campaigns.19 The rise of the inclusive consumer. McKinsey & Company. February 8, 2022.
Global certifications and organizations that help retail buyers discover and source from diverse suppliers include:
- NMSDC is a partner in the Global Supplier Diversity Alliance.
- WEConnect International is the global certification partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
- NGLCC Global is the international division of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and currently partners with 14 LGBT and diverse organizations from around the world.20 How Supplier Diversity is Going Global. Supplier.io. December 16, 2021.
Investing in diverse-owned brands’ success
Wherever they are located around the world, retailers around the world can make space in their marketing strategies for diverse suppliers. They can spice up their assortments by adding products from diverse suppliers to their merchandising mix. Retailers can promote them with digital ad campaigns that highlight these suppliers all year round, rather than limiting efforts to Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Pride Month.
Retailers can also make it easy for consumers to identify diverse brands with certifications and clear labels on physical and digital shelves. They can also allow consumers to filter e-commerce search results for diverse suppliers and create curated product lists to boost suppliers’ product visibility.21 The rise of the inclusive consumer. McKinsey & Company. February 8, 2022.
At all levels, retailers can hire workers from diverse backgrounds to ensure their organizations understand and serve a wider range of consumers, elevating diversity as a competitive strategy.
Why supplier diversity is going global
Around the world, supplier diversity helps brands connect with consumers and drive growth. Retailers gain an assortment edge with in-demand items that delight underserved consumers, and even protect supply chain resilience by diversifying their pool of suppliers. Global consumers win by accessing greater product variety, quality, and innovation to feel represented and satisfy their needs, enhancing overall brand trust and loyalty.
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|↑1||Silberstein, Nicole. Harris Poll: 82% of Consumers Want a Brand’s Values to Align with Their Own. Retail Touchpoints. April 27, 2022.|
|↑2, ↑3||Evans, Michelle. Three Ways The Future Retail Store Will Change. Forbes. December 1, 2021.|
|↑4||Barclay, Liz. Minority Businesses Matter. Small Business Commissioner. October 14, 2021.|
|↑8||Shoaib, Maliha. Trinny Woodall on how to market beauty to an older consumer. Vogue Business. January 31, 2022.|
|↑9||Powell, Chris. Walmart Canada tops diversity and inclusivity study. Canadian Grocer. October 16, 2020.|
|↑10||Stewart, Samuel. Shaping Vancouver’s Retail Market: Diversity, Density and Digital. The Consumer Goods Forum. May 15, 2019.|
|↑11||Sephora Canada To Dedicate 25% of Offerings To BIPOC-Owned Brands. Retail Insider. May 18, 2021.|
|↑13||Hui-Miller, Jo-Anne. Real diversity boosts business’ bottom line. Inside Retail. June 22, 2017.|
|↑15||Hogan, Ruth. Woolworths reveals plans to introduce halal range. Inside FMCG. January 21, 2019.|
|↑17, ↑18, ↑19, ↑21||The rise of the inclusive consumer. McKinsey & Company. February 8, 2022.|
|↑20||How Supplier Diversity is Going Global. Supplier.io. December 16, 2021.|