Inclusive products + Inclusive marketing

Wendy Johnstone

By Wendy Johnstone, General Manager, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft Asia Pacific.

Isn’t it amazing that we live in a world where devices outnumber people? There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day and 90% of the data in the world was created in the last two years. And that pace is only accelerating with the Internet of Things (IoT).

We used to refer to IoT as the next tech transformation but today, it’s very much part of our everyday lives. Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer restricted to futuristic sci-fi films – it’s in every good marketer’s strategy for 2019, and its impact is going to be incredible. The world is changing, demographics are disrupting global business agendas and a staggering 75% of the global workforce is going to be less than 35 years old by 2025.

So, this leads to us questioning: how will these two forces of technology and demographics impact brands and marketing?

I strongly believe that we will serve everyone better on the planet by representing everyone on the planet. It’s no longer about “one size fits all”. Marketers need to adapt and become radically more inclusive.

There are two key questions I ask myself and my team:

  1. Are we building our products for everyone?
  2. Do our stories and brand resonate with a broad set of customers?

When making the shift to being more inclusive, it’s important to set a clear framework. For example, what are the ten top inclusive behaviors and how are you encouraging action. This clarity enables those around you to participate with confidence.

And how are you embracing the new technologies that are available, and how do they enable us to be more inclusive than ever. Today, we’re engaging with our customers in a more meaningful way and building greater brand loyalty because of it. We’re also able to build products that are accessible to everyone.

Now, think about that in marketing terms. How can marketing be more accessible to everyone? Is your marketing inclusive?

Asking these questions has allowed us to completely transform the way we approach marketing. We have adopted an ‘inclusive mindset’. And with that, a rich set of tools to help us effectively deliver on this.

A great example is our marketing approach for the Xbox Adaptive Controller.

Did you know there are more than one billion people in the world living with some level of disability? One billion. We thought, there’s got to be a way that we can make our products accessible to everyone. And with that we launched Xbox’s first video game controller with an innovatively inclusive design.

But it can’t just be about the product. We need to make the entire experience inclusive. Often, product packaging can have difficult-to-remove plastics, twist ties and other hindrances. So, we removed all of that and instead, included loops, hinges, levels and ribbon to make it as easy as possible to unbox this controller. On the outside, we even included a peel away strip that when pulled reveals the main box.

This breakthrough has completely changed the world of gaming for many of our customers including Sai, a 14-year old living in New Zealand. In 2013, Sai lost his left arm above the elbow when he was hit by a bus while on a family holiday in Fiji. Since his amputation, Sai struggled to use a traditional video game controller as they’re usually designed to be held with two hands. Parents usually nag their kids to stop playing video games, but not Sai’s mum – she smiles.  It’s wonderful to hear how it’s boosted his confidence and given him back something he loved doing so much.

That was a huge breakthrough for us as a team and we’re constantly thinking, how can we improve on that?

This new era for marketers makes me really excited about the future. I believe 2019 will be a tipping point for inclusive marketing in Asia Pacific, and I’m keen to see how we can apply new thinking and technologies to be more inclusive.

At Microsoft, it’s in our DNA. What will you do to be more inclusive?

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