Most Marketers Agree Diverse Images in Ads Help a Brand’s Reputation, According to New Report

Shutterstock study surveyed 1,500 marketers

Nearly half of U.S. marketers in the survey agreed it was important to represent modern day society in ads. Shutterstock
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Marketers are largely in agreement that using diverse images is good for brands, according to a recent study by Shutterstock.

“We are pleased to learn from the research that marketers in the U.S. are making a conscious effort to be more inclusive with their choice of imagery showing nontraditional families and nonprofessional models,” Shutterstock curator Robyn Lange said in a statement. “It’s clear that societal changes combined with shifting attitudes are influencing the demand for more modern imagery that represents a diverse range of communities.”

The survey involved over 1,500 marketers from the U.S., U.K. and Australia answering questions about their use of imagery and offers an expansion of Shutterstock’s 2016 survey of U.K. marketers’ use of imagery.

Among the most striking of the study’s finding was that 88 percent of U.S. marketers in the survey agreed with the statement “Using more diverse images helps a brand’s reputation.”

Nearly half of U.S. marketers in the survey agreed it was important to represent modern day society in marketing imagery, with 41 percent agreeing with the statement.

Looking at image usage in the last 12 months, 33.9 percent of U.S. marketers in the survey said they’ve used more “racially diverse models” and 21.4 percent have said they used more images featuring “nonprofessional models.”

A total of 8.6 percent of U.S. marketers said they’d used more images in the past 12 months featuring a “nontraditional family,” while 10.6 percent used more images featuring same-sex couples and 10.2 percent used more images featuring people with disabilities.

Of U.S. marketers that had used more images of “nonprofessional models,” 57 percent pointed to better representing modern society as the reason, while 65 percent of those using more images of “nontraditional families” selected that response as the reasoning, as did 83 percent of those who used more images of same-sex couples.

“Our research shows that globally, marketers are shifting their attitudes and selecting images primarily to represent modern day society. Marketers are also recognizing that choosing images that are relatable to diverse groups benefits their brand’s reputation,” Lange added. “Striking a chord with consumers is no longer about serving them images of perfection, as social media has helped to change how people view images. Consumers prefer images that accurately portray the world around them, as opposed to a perfected version of the world offered by marketers.”

There was widespread agreement among marketers that the industry still has room to improve.

Over 91 percent of U.S. marketers surveyed agreed with the statement “There is still room for growth in using more diverse images by marketers.”

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.