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ROI FOR INCLUSIVE MARKETING | Majid Khoury, Brand and Advertising Research Strategist

Tammy Tsang  00:20

Hi, everyone, my name is Tammy, I’m the co founder of AndHumanity an inclusive content agency and my pronouns are she and her. I’m very excited to have Majid Khoury, a branding advertising research strategist, and advisor to AndHumanity.


Majid Khoury  00:36

Great. Well, thank you Tammy. My name is Majid Khoury as Tammy mentioned, and I go by, he/him and I’m so glad that we’re chatting about this, Tammy and, you know, we’ve been working together in one way or another so, I’m glad for years now. So I’m really glad to be part of the AndHumanity initiative.


Tammy Tsang  00:57

Thank you so much for taking the time to be here today. Share your wealth of knowledge, Majid has worked with amazing brands across and is such a resource to any organization I highly recommend him. So, today Majid and I will be basically talking about return on investment for diversity and inclusive marketing, some of the barriers and challenges that brands have entering the space. So, before we begin, I’d like to first acknowledge, we operate on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. So let’s start off with a little bit about yourself first. So how did you get into this line of work and you have a wealth of experience in this area? So if you could just give us a little bit of background on that, that’d be great.



Okay, well, I stumbled on market research by fluke to be honest with you, that was around 30 years ago or so. And it wasn’t such a popular kind of topic in the world of marketing. So I’ve always wanted to get into advertising. And then a market researcher was looking for students to help out with interviews. So I was recommended that the interviews loved the work. They hired me as soon as I graduated, and then worked with them. It was a company specializing in advertising research back in Montreal and Toronto called Tandamar, which is now part of Ipsos, and then moved here to Vancouver in the 90s had my own firm that was then purchased by Ipsos. And for the last nine years now, I’ve been working completely on my own from my home and really enjoying it. So I’ve been in it for a long time and a lot of brands across North America and some global brands and a lot of the local market businesses as well.


Tammy Tsang  02:49

Mm hmm. Yes, Majid. It’s been so amazing working with you. I think just working with you. I’ve learned so much about the industry as well. One of the first question I’d like to ask you is that you know, there seems to be quite a few roadblocks or fears when it comes to brands entering the D&I space? Do you feel that those fears are founded or unfounded? And what are some of these fears?


Majid Khoury  03:16

Great. I mean, there are fears they’re probably founded but doesn’t mean that they can’t be overcome. So there’s two areas that I feel is a real issue when it comes to this is first, a full understanding by the marketers about  diversity and inclusiveness. What does it mean? how to go about it, etc. For example, do these marketers really understand that different diverse groups are also diverse within themselves? So let’s try to understand diversity within a segment. Do they understand that their feelings and attitudes as they vary across these segments. So a lot of that understanding and sensitivity, I feel it’s kind of missing. And if anything, I’ll be sharing some examples. And I thought about some of these examples, they go all go back around over 10 years ago. So it seems like we were doing better. Just with everything that the challenges of marketing and challenge getting less. For example, I remember, probably some people remember back in the 90s Vancity, was the first financial institutions in probably North America that targeted the gay and lesbian community at that point. Their research wasn’t talking to just gays and lesbians to understand the thing. They segmented that group into those living downtown, those living in the eastern suburbs and those all the way in Fraser Valley, because they realize that you can’t talk to all gays and lesbians in the same way, someone who’s living downtown is completely different attitudes and life stage. And optimists are not compared to a gay lesbian living in Fraser Valley. So as an example of the thinking that is required. This was, you know, that cultural intelligence that we need to think about. We also see it a lot in terms of the looking at it as a separate market. Given that I worked in Montreal and Toronto in the past working on national brands. I feel every marketer in this country understands that you can’t just go out to Quebec up an ad and run with it, it just doesn’t work. So you got that sensitivity when it comes to something like that. So why don’t we apply it within diverse groups of other languages? Why do we have ads these are really examples without naming the client where an ad that is found with it, Chinese origin individual in Mandarin, that same individual whose mother tongue is Mandarin also dubbed the ad into Cantonese. Well, Cantonese speakers picked upon the accent, the research show the ad do as well. Other situations I come across all the time is and that is actually in English and the originally with a Caucasian character and then it gets dubbed into Chinese. I mean, it just feels that there isn’t this strong sense of understanding the nuances of diversity, inclusiveness marketing, they understand the benefit of it. I mean we all know the market and we need to track them, but it’s these nuances. That’s one of these roadblocks that other one is budgets. When setting budgets return on investment for the money. And I think that’s something that is really tricky to measure. And by the same time, there are ways to do it. I mean, some of the studies I’ve seen from the US only like last year where they analyze like brands who include different groups in their advertising, their stock values tended to be like 44% higher than other brands, and their brand preference was 83% higher than brands that do not focus on inclusivity and diversity in their advertising. So the ROI is there. But people think, Oh my God, we can’t figure it out. It’s sort of these kinds of road blocks that I feel are really holding us back to do a really good job


Tammy Tsang  07:55

Completely. It’s very frustrating as a marketer when a brand comes to you and says, Oh, my target is the Chinese audience. And you just sit there and you’re thinking, Okay, are you talking about first generation second generation? Are you talking, Taiwanese, Cantonese, maybe Singaporean, like, What? How do you break that down? And it’s, it’s, it’s looping or grouping people into these mass categories, where you’re really not building that authentic relationship. And that’s, that’s quite frustrating. From a marketers perspective, when you’re presented with a brief that’s maybe not as culturally literate as it could be, you know, and to your point around budgets and looking for the ROI as well. We’ve been seeing a lot more information research come out in that area, including customer loyalty increasing Customer Loyalty when it comes to more inclusive brands as well, it’s very exciting to see that research is coming out and actually backing that up now. Do you have examples of ways to kind of work around some of these roadblocks? These are clearly ones that can be overcome. With just a bit of tweaking it sounds like. Can you walk through some of some of these solutions that we could use to overcome these?



Definitely, I mean, first adaptation of the creative to the target is really key. And that’s something that no dubbing to and doesn’t mean that you have to film a very expensive ad. You have to think of the story and the objective and the messaging from the perspective of that group. Around again, an old example 10 years ago Coast Capital Savings television, ad probably many people in BC remember that they’re fun humor, etc. When they started advertising on the Punjabi television, they produced ads that were completely different in terms of the look and the scenario than the English ads. But they still had the same fun humor of the culture. And I mean, if you look those up on Google, they are hilarious because they have like, the actors from the Punjabi background. They’re having certain jokes that we may not relate to, but they’re obviously related to the culture. So that for me is a way to do it. You don’t have to go that far. I mean, it’s just probably they got to, I don’t know. But I mean, you just need two actors having a scenario that is written in the right context, to make it adaptable. It’s things along those lines that are really going to make a difference in doing it.  When it comes to, again, something as simple as thinking about, like, do we include our target in the advertising that we see? I think all of us have seen ads from local advertisers that tried to include all of those individuals, whether it’s gays and lesbian backgrounds, trans community, Chinese, Indian, etc, or South India, but we don’t necessarily see enough of them, again is a group called Heat in the US did this analysis of muliticultural ads or so. And they found that across all the ads, only 1% of the ads depicted, gays and lesbians community only 1% depicted disabled individuals and their discussion was, Well, what do you think of the general population? I mean, depending on how we measure it, at least 10% belong to the gay and lesbian QT+ plus groups, but why only 1% of the s reflect that 4% of the general population are disabled? Why don’t you have as much reflection, and this doesn’t even take into account the over indexing of purchasing power, for example of some of these groups. So it’s just thinking about some of these things. And, again, another way to overcome it is to think of it in the same context as you market to the general population. I mean, you know, you own an ad agency understand how these things work. I mean, we all know media buys have to be substantial to achieve a reach at a good level to create an impact. That doesn’t seem to be applied to some of these campaigns. I mean, I look at some of the spending levels, I mean, they’re barely 1% of total impressions and Lower Mainland, for example, go to four different ethnic groups.


Tammy Tsang  13:17

Is to say that the reflection of the population is definitely not reflected in the media buy budget distribution?


Majid Khoury  13:25

it’s definitely not reflected. And also from a pure logic, the numbers in absolute become very, very small to even do something


Tammy Tsang  13:36

to have any impact. It’s almost better not to do anything at all unless you’re going to


Majid Khoury  13:41

Don’t spread it over.



four languages, even like five I mean, to be honest with you some discussions with advertising when we talk about the Cantonese about the Mandarin, speaking about the Hindi speaking with the Punjabi speaking about


Majid Khoury  13:56

the Hinglish speaking



And we haven’t even got into newcomers within the culture versus nothing cetera, you can’t advertise to all of them and have enough money to do so. So focus on one and or two and do it properly.


Tammy Tsang  14:16

Yeah. And that’s part of the question that we had around marketing budgets with a brand, you know, how much of your budget should you invest into? You know, technically, it’s named as, you know, a minority group, but I mean, by 2036, they’ll be my minority majority country, we already are minority majority in Vancouver and a lot of major cities. How should the budget be broken up when you say, you know, oh, here’s the you know, the mass population advertising versus these minority groups given this information? How should the budget be broken up?



I mean, the starting point is to start is to say if you want to include them as part of your target market, depend on them in proportion to their presence. I mean, you know, you think off the Lower Mainland general target. Yes, there’s at least 20% or so of one of the different Chinese speaking, heritage’s or languages. And then let’s assume 10% would have those would be reached by your Gera English stations, given they’ve been here a lot longer, or maybe they don’t speak the language as well, etc. So that means you need to invest at least 10% of your budget to reach the others to start with but all the numbers I’m seeing is investing between three to 1% of the budget towards even bigger groups than just the Cantonese and Mandarin speaking. So when you start doing it that way, then you say, Okay, well now let’s work it backwards. $5 million to spend what happens if I If I take 10% of that, and dedicate it to that, or that group and then take the rest to the others, and then decide where you want to focus on what you could cut without jeopardizing impact,


Tammy Tsang  16:16

yes, because right now currently, what we’re seeing a lot of is tokenism or, representation when it comes to, posters or billboards and whatnot, but I wouldn’t say that’s true inclusion, when it comes to that it’s actually investing in, say content that’s relatable to that community specifically. And so that requires more than just the one or 2% that’s currently being invested. Right? So we’re looking at deeper content, specifically authentic to that, that, that that whoever, whichever community you’re targeting, and that can because of the complex intersections of every individual, you can break it up by age, you know, sexual orientation, people of color and so, depending I guess on the way you want to, I guess for lack of better term cut up the population is the different ways to relate to different parts of an individual’s identity. So in terms of the role of market research, what role can it play when it comes to D&I marketing and advertising?


Majid Khoury  17:25

I mean, I feel



the key role and I apply that in all advertising research to say you know, where you want to spend your money is at the strategy phase, understanding your market etc. And so I feel that a good place for it where market research can play a great role is understanding the market their attitudes. The nuances which you don’t really get by just reading. For sure.


Tammy Tsang  17:58

You don’t get to know people by purely, you know, numbers right or


Majid Khoury  18:02

Exactly. So you need to spend time with them and talk to them. And what they see is that doesn’t happen. Most of the money spent on research for



ethnic groups is sort of at the other side that isn’t the advertising where they’re evaluating the performance. By then it’s too late you already adopt the ad, which you shouldn’t do, you’re already you know, talking about things that are irrelevant, as you said, which you shouldn’t do etc. So you need to start digging deeper, I mean, the Vancity example with the gays and lesbians was one. And another example I worked on, while ago was, for example, the Ming Pao paper when they first came into the city kind of thing. They didn’t just talk to one group, they talk to the new arrivals from Mainland China to the established from Hong Kong to the Taiwanese and they really got those different understanding. And you want to develop a strategy. So it is definitely a place where market research is not used as much. And of course, evaluation becomes key, especially if we’re now jumping from spending, you know, $20,000 on that group or advertising to half a million dollar or something like that, then you need to invest in evaluation. It’s the same concept. So I feel it’s definitely not used, but it has a place in it as much as anyone else. Now, I’m not a political or policy researcher, so I really can’t speak to it. But they bet you all these political parties and government entities, they’re spending a lot of money researching those groups because they need the votes. So why don’t we think of it that way


Tammy Tsang  19:47

Completely and I think there’s a really popular phrase that marketers really haven’t embodied entirely which is nothing about us without us. And really the engagement portion means meaningful conversations authentic representation. And that all requires building relationships from very early on. And in order to do that, you know, you have to integrate them from the strategy phase to the creative phase and so on and so forth. So I think that’s a really great point. So, what are some of the challenges that market researchers are having with supporting D&I because there there definitely are some systemic it, you know, challenges that come with our industry when it comes to supporting D&I. Can you tell me a little bit about challenges that we currently face?


Majid Khoury  20:37

I mean, we definitely face and we face chat that challenges us in terms of accessing this market for market research basis. As you probably know, there’s all these online panels people agreed to be on survey they take a lot of effort to represent the population of Canada at large so you could get to French Canadians easily. But then when it comes to some of the other ethnic groups, for example, they’re not identified properly. And there aren’t enough of them. And that’s not surprising, because if half of some of the ethnic groups do not necessarily consume English media, they’re not going to be comfortable doing surveys in English. So they won’t be on the panel, so we’re missing out on them. So that access is not there. There are some providers who give you respondents who speak the language, but then there aren’t enough of them, or they only cover maybe a couple of languages, but not all the ethnic groups like to find a gay and lesbian panel. Mm hmm. I’m not sure how easy it is to find pre identified. But again, one could think creatively is like, you know, you could go through influencer set target groups and try to promote your survey there. So there’s different ways but there isn’t enough. Thinking about those goes back, there’s enough investment in it that needs to be or market


Tammy Tsang  22:06

cycle that kind of keeps going.



Yeah, it has to be. So there’s that part which starts increasing, because the other thing is the translation costs start adding up, because you’re not only translating a survey, you’re translating a survey, you’re programming in some sort of language, and then you’re also need to translate it back to analyze what they’re responding. So before you know it, you end up with a price tag that’s on 30% higher to reach one of those groups than it is for general population and then you transfer that back to the money that is spent on it. Then it becomes, oh my god, I’m spending, you know, 40% of my media budget. Doing research No, just go and buy more media


Tammy Tsang  23:05

completely, it’s understandable just because, you know, it’s, the law of supply and demand and is partly why AndHumanity form to create, you know, a bit more of a network more of a community so that we have access to these communities and have the cultural nuance and literacy so that we can better understand these communities as well. But that’s going to take time and effort and effort on behalf of our entire industry, not just you know, one individual or a team of individuals, and part of it is is growing that community. Do you have any suggestions on, ways to work around that or, just go for it anyways, keep investing, like, what are your thoughts around that?



I mean, it becomes back to that chicken and egg is, if you keep at it, you got to start finding more qualified people that understand it in the industry, you’re going to start seeing more courses education around that. But we need to start by making a commitment as, as marketers is to say, you know, we eat as you use the word token. Thing is, you know, to really say, or understand that it’s a waste of money to just touch this or to just throw a bunch of people from different backgrounds on a poster. It’s that once we get there, then we start to have to work backwards. I mean, some smart marketers in the city, think to say, What I know is costing me more than it’s worth, but how else can I make a business case for this? It’s an investment and the investment would pay off afterwards, once you understand that, but I think it all has to come all together. I mean, The proportion of courses in some of the business schools that are on digital marketing versus multicultural international marketing is kind of a joke. And again, I mean, when I went to school, I took like three courses in international marketing and cultural communications, etc. So I feel it’s just not on our radar.


Tammy Tsang  25:24

It definitely is becoming more and more on our radar as brands, leaders in this industry that are pushing for inclusivity are really seeing amazing returns in that area. I think part of the conversation is just understanding that, when you invest in these groups first and are one of the pioneers, the customer loyalty you’re building is amazing. Because there is this understanding that you’ve taken the risk to reach out to our community that you know, you’ve invested in getting to know us and therefore you build a relationship that you can’t otherwise in a blanket campaign, right? In terms of just to kind of wrap up here a little bit would you have any kind of tips or suggestions or last things to kind of say to brands when it comes to entering the D&I space? And what to do as a first step when coming into market research.


Majid Khoury  26:31

I think the first step is



even if it’s casual research, understand the market. Don’t just talk to your employees of that group. They are not necessarily representative, understand the market, understand the nuances. Do some of these things. So that for me is starting point and then start going through it just like any marketing Let’s focus on primary targets again your target. This is who they are, define them properly don’t define them as Cantonese speaking Vancouverites.


Tammy Tsang  27:10

Go a little deeper than that, since it’s a little bit more complex. Well thank you so much Majid, for your time with us for sharing your knowledge. So where can people find you if they want more information if they want to build some solid market research and strategy?



Sure, I mean, I could be reached at my email, which is [email protected] is that easy, or via phone 604755892. Or they can talk to you I’m sure you can find me before that.


Tammy Tsang  27:46

Yeah, I’m sure you’ll find Majid all over the internet as well. He has a fantastic blog as well. If you guys haven’t, you can just easily Google his name and it’ll pop up. But as an audience, if you have any questions, you’re in interested in joining our community you want to share some of your knowledge, help push for more inclusion in our industry, please reach out and contact us. You can find all our contact information at Thank you so much.


Majid Khoury  28:15

Thank you Tammy. We’ll talk soon. Bye


Tammy Tsang, Majid Khoury


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