The accelerating diversity of communities
The diversity of communities has radically increased over the last 100 years across racial, cultural, and other lines, including where people come together across spaces, communities, and relationships. This increased societal diversity lends itself to more diversity in the markets that make up product and service users. This increased customer diversity and resulting shifting expectations of the organizations consumers engage with make it critical to understand why and how these trends can impact your products and services.
3 global trends are increasing community diversity
Let’s explore the trends that have led to this increased diversity over the last 150 years.
- Interracial marriage
- The increasing diversity of urban and rural regions
Immigration has accelerated across the world over the last 50 years.
In 2019, the UN reported that the number of migrants internationally hit 271 million people, up from 84 million in the 1970s.
As people move, they take their cultures, unique lived experiences, and perspectives with them, making their new home more diverse and culturally connected.
The increasing prevalence of interracial marriage is another driver of increasing diversity, particularly in North America and Western Europe. In the US alone, interracial marriage increased from around 2% of all marriages in the 60s to more than 18% in 2015, with the curve continuing to trend upwards.
The increasing diversity of both urban and rural regions
While the past 150 years have seen a dramatic increase in urbanization—including the growth of urban centre melting pots of multi-ethnic communities—over the last few decades, not only have urban areas experienced an increase in diversity but so have rural areas.
Nine out of 10 rural places experienced increases in diversity from 1990 to 2010 according to The Conversation.
The World Urban forum noted that “Cities such as San Francisco, Toronto, Abu Dhabi, and Brussels are among the most culturally, linguistically, and ethnically diverse with 35 to 58 percent of their populations being foreign-born.”
All of these changes and shifts around the world are leading to more diverse communities and the breaking down of barriers towards new cultural and brand connections as part of a growing global cultural mosaic.
Historical approaches to product strategy and service design do not serve today’s customers
Historically, designers have worked to design for the average, intentionally normalizing how we deliver products and services to cover as much of the market as possible without putting in the effort to understand market nuance, going by the general rule being the average will cover about 80% of the market.
As growing diversity trends have accelerated, among other intersectional considerations, this average has been replaced with a mosaic of unique individuals. In reality, there is no 80% average and in fact, your audience is more likely to be individualistic than average. As such, designing for the average no longer works.
We need to adapt to serve diverse communities by serving the diversity of our customer groups, understanding behaviour over demographics, and designing for individuals, not archetypes.
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