Diversity & B2B Buying Behavior

During the holiday season, I noticed companies selling gift-worthy products increased their media placement with messages that invoked the “giving time of year.” This is smart, as it has the possibility to increase personal relevance, which can be an important motivator of buying behavior. But one company in particular, Wal-Mart, utilized another factor worth talking about. It’s a B2C advertisement, of course, but the concept is just as relevant in B2B marketing.

Diversity & B2B buying BehaviorIn their commercial, Wal-Mart utilized images of people from various demographics, including race, age and gender. This is significant, as scientific research suggests using images that reflect one’s target audience may be an important factor in influencing their behavior. To explain, The Distinctiveness Theory posits that the further integration of society has increased the salience of one’s ethnicity. Thus, a message might be more persuasive, and more buyer-motivating, to a customer if it features images of people who look like him or her.

However, it’’s important to stress that the key here is to pick images that reflect the target audience,– not just images of a diverse group of people. So do your research, talk to your target audience and find out what demographics particularly reflect them. And though ethnicity is important, try to incorporate other characteristics that may be salient, such as age, gender, etc.

In the end, as with everything in B2B marketing, the first step is to get out there and talk to your customers. Who are they? What do they look like? Many of us might call this a “persona” but, whatever name you use, the key is to be sure you are doing it. In order to motivate your customer to buy, they must not only think about your good or service, but also elaborate on it long enough to reach the purchasing stage, and incorporating scientific research like The Distinctiveness Theory into your own marketing strategy may help them do just that.