Racial segregation was one fence that both kept certain people in and other people out. People still feel disconnected from one another and from certain brands because of their lack of representation.
Consumers for the most part despise racism and any attempt, intentional or unintentional to box in and box out specific races will be spoken of without reserve on social media. They also are looking more at brands and trying to see where they fit in and if they don’t, they move on to another brand. Or in some cases stay with the brand grudgingly. We have witnessed before how a lack of representation will create friction in the minds of the consumer.
There was a fence created by brands. A fence of using people who were most often lighter skinned, not just white but lighter skinned black people too. That is the fence that brands need to jump over and get to the other side that involves embracing the new perfect.
The new perfect is in fact doing something different. Embracing different complexions and heights, ethnicities and ‘flaws’. Something brands steered away from in the past, but need to embrace today. This will connect with the consumer who has had enough of the ‘supposed’ ideal portrayed in media and by brands for so long. To the consumer it’s not about forcing ‘different’ to connect with them, it’s about doing it authentically and meaningfully. Embracing different in terms of representation impacts many people. As a brand you shouldn’t just go with the change for the sake of change but allow your brand to change meaningfully with the consumers desire to be represented by you.
One such brand that has made a powerful shift in terms of representation and has in fact jumped a fence in terms of representation is Forever New. An Australian brand loved for their feminine apparel but questioned for their lack of representation in a South African market. This Month they revealed their newest collection Sandswept with their latest model. This is the first South African model they have used in their collections. Thuli is a fresh face, rocking natural hair and gracing the Forever New store front nationwide. We can only hope that this paves the way for even more South African models to be associated with overseas brands that wish to make a home in South Africa.
Brands need to identify the fences they may have created and see how best to jump over them to connect with consumers more effectively.