Should Faith Be Included in the Rich Tapestry of Diversity?

AUTHOR:

Chris Stone


Inclusion of God in the Democratic Party Platform offers some clues for brands

One of the most surprising stories coming out of the 2012 Democratic National Convention was the unscripted brouhaha that erupted over the mention of God in the party platform.  While previous platforms had mentioned God by name, the committee that created the 2012 platform decided to omit mention of the Creator from this important document that lays out the party’s guiding philosophies and principles for governing.

When members of the media and Republicans highlighted this omission to the broader American public – of which 71 percent self-identify as Christian and 9 out of 10 believe in God – the Democrats realized they were out of step with the people and had a public relations issue on their hands. They quickly moved to put God back into the platform.

What was meant to be an uneventful reinstatement of God into the platform quickly went negative for convention organizers when the party’s delegates expressed their disapproval for the move in a clearly split vote.

The bewildered reaction of Los Angeles mayor and Democratic Committee Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa at the specter of a popular uprising among party delegates against the inclusion of God in the platform was a rare moment of confusion in an otherwise tightly scripted and highly choreographed convention.

So, how does this spectacle relate to retail brands in America?

The awkward reinstatement of God into the Democratic platform by party leaders shows that they didn’t want to alienate the vast majority of Americans who believe in God.

Similarly, most retailers in the United States have also taken steps to remove mention of God in their marketing and operations – even though many were founded explicitly upon Christian principles by leaders who held to a strong faith in God.

Here, several questions must be asked:  

  1. If a sizeable majority of the population believes in God and/or self-identifies as Christian, then why do brands think it’s a good idea to take faith communities out of their rich tapestry of diversity?
  2. Why are retailers willing to target other market niches with less spending power and ignore a newly emerging and economically powerful market segment known as Faith Driven Consumers that spends $2 trillion annually and comprises 41 million Americans?
  3. How do retailers know that excluding Faith Driven Consumers from their rainbow of inclusion isn’t a classic example of tripping over dollars to pick up dimes?

The good news for brands is that including Faith Driven Consumers in the marketing mix need not be feared and will likely be met with widespread public support. In fact, research shows that 97 percent of the American population is open to doing businesses with retailers whose operations are compatible with Christianity.  Only a very small three percent are opposed.

For the Democratic Party, clearly the negative consequence of taking God out of the 2012 platform was greater than any perceived negative consequence for leaving God in. Similarly, American retailers today should include, engage and integrate Faith Driven Consumers into their business.  The payoff for doing so will positively impact the corporate bottom line.



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