Marketers' Investment in Diverse Suppliers on the Rise, But Behind Level of Interest

By ANA InSites Archives
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There's good news and bad news when it comes to marketers investing in diverse suppliers, according to a new ANA study. The good news is that marketers increased their investment in diverse suppliers in 2022, and that trend is expected to continue into 2023. The bad news is that there's a gap between the interest marketers claim in diverse suppliers and their actual investment.

The study, "The Marketing Community's Support of Diverse Suppliers – The Supplier Perspective," surveyed leaders from those companies on the ANA list of Certified Diverse Suppliers. At this writing, there are 469 companies on the list -- agencies, media companies, researchers, production companies and more. A supplier diversity program 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." In the ad industry there has been a recent focus on supporting ethnic/minority-owned suppliers.

Key findings of the study:

  • Thirty-eight percent of the diverse suppliers stated that for their business specifically, investment from the marketing/advertising community has increased in the past year. The median increase was between 15 and 20 percent.
  • Forty-six percent of the diverse suppliers expect investment from the marketing/advertising community for their business specifically to increase in the next year.
  • At the same time, however, 56 percent of respondents say that interest from the marketing/advertising community in supporting diverse suppliers has increased in the past year. So, there is a gap within the marketing/advertising community between the interest and actual investment support of diverse suppliers -- between "intent" and "action."

Regarding that gap, some respondents noted:

  • "The most significant issue is having advertisers and marketers in the community align their actions to their words."
  • "Lots of talk, little action. Marketers must put action -- and funds -- behind their lofty speeches from the podium."
  • "It seems like there is a cattle call of sorts for marketers who have not engaged multicultural audiences or agencies in the past, but they are seeking to put multicultural agencies on their mantel versus actually investing in the market and giving these agencies business."
  • "There is a gap between requiring diverse suppliers to bid projects versus actually awarding the work."

One hypothesis about the gap between interest and investment is that many companies which have interest are still "sitting on the sidelines" and don't know how (or where) to get started. To address that, the ANA is working with a cross-industry task force -- which includes the 4A's and the ANA's Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) -- to develop guidelines to help those companies.

Another common reason given for the lack of investment is the that the inventory supply of diverse media is still lagging demand. This concern has been voiced by advertisers which have started investing with diverse media suppliers, and it has limited increased investment. As stated by an agency exec at one industry event, "We can't find enough stuff to buy." Buyers can help increase inventory by co-creating content with diverse media suppliers. Furthermore, when working with diverse media companies, buyers should look for opportunities beyond traditional media -- sponsorship of events, for example.

Furthermore, diverse suppliers identified their top challenges to be:

  • Lack of feedback when they don't get the business.
  • Getting their foot in the door with national advertisers/agencies.
  • Extended payment terms required by some advertisers/agencies.

The new study is part of a robust portfolio of ANA products, services and initiatives dedicated to reducing diverse media investment inequality in the marketing, advertising and media industries. More at and

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