Marketers are increasingly using images that are racially and sexually diverse in their campaigns, according to new research from Shutterstock.

Nearly half (49%) of the 500 UK marketers surveyed said they'd used racially diverse images over the past 12 months. And 32% said they use images depicting gay couples as part of their marketing campaigns.

The study suggests that marketers select these types of images to primarily represent modern day society, as opposed to selecting imagery to simply promote brand message. When choosing images of homosexual couples, more marketers prioritise the need to reflect today’s society (79%) rather than linking to brand message (29%). For the reasons behind the use of racially diverse images, more stated the need to represent society (71%) over promoting brand message (30%). Non-traditional family images (such as a lesbian couple with a child) are also popular with 66% of marketers choosing these types of images more.

The research also suggested that marketers are selecting diverse images for fear of being labelled discriminatory. Less Caucasian models are now being used with 34% of marketers using these model images less than in previous years, and 33% said they use heterosexual couples less.

Robyn Lange, curator at Shutterstock, said: "Marketing, like many other fields, has a diversity problem. The people chosen to represent campaigns have an obvious and visual impact on public life. Therefore, marketers need to be more inclusive through their choice of images.

"Our research shows that marketers in the UK are shifting their attitudes and selecting images, primarily, to represent modern day society. These marketers are influencers in their field who understand that marketing needs to reflect the diverse range of communities which are present in the UK.”

Marketers in the finance industry are the least likely to select diverse imagery, whereas HR companies are the most likely. Just 28% of finance marketers have used racially diverse images over the past year, with the same figure for homosexual couples. On the other hand, 60% of HR marketers had selected both racially and sexually diverse images.


By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine

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