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Survey: Diversifying Marketing Suppliers is Challenging

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Advertisers and marketers may need to relax payment terms, focus less on metrics and think beyond reach when trying to increase their use of diversity suppliers, but increasing that diversity is key to doing business going forward.

That is one of the takeaways from a new study by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), which found that two thirds (69%) of marketers said they have strategic plans in place to hire diverse suppliers of advertising and marketing services*.

"Marketers need to be open to doing business differently when working with some diverse suppliers," ANA said including hiring new people for their teams and investing in supplier relationships,

ANA said the racial reckoning of the past year has clearly had an impact, according to the study, released Tuesday (May 26), which found that 89% said the importance of supplier diversity has grown over that time. The impetus for the diversity focus was both the events of the past year, sparked by the death of George Floyd, and the importance of supplier diversity generally in a company's inclusion strategy.

“The devastating events of the past year have had a profound effect on all businesses, and the marketing industry has been no exception,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice at the study's release. “But this report shows that at least one positive development has emerged—a growing number of marketers are realizing the importance and the value of diversifying their supplier base.”

According to the report, women-owned businesses have gotten the most business, followed by Hispanic-owned, small businesses, and Black-owned.

The study revealed the challenges to diversifying suppliers for marketing/ad products, including that the pool of diverse suppliers remains small. ANA recommended that trade associations, marketers and agencies all try to promote the development of diverse suppliers to enlarge that pool.

The March 2021 online study was based on responses from 112 client-side marketers, with in-depth qualitative follow-up interviews.

* A supplier diversity plans is defined as “a proactive business program which encourages the use of women-owned, ethnic/minority-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ-owned, disability-owned, and small businesses as suppliers.”