Shutterstock 2021 Diversity Report: Social Movements and Lockdown Effects on Visual Content homepage

In honor of Diversity Awareness Month, Shutterstock has just released their 2021 Diversity Report, where they analyze the responses of over 2,000 marketers worldwide, to understand how the latest social events around the world impacted visual content trends, and give us valuable insight into the ways in which diversity takes protagonism in creative imagery and visual communication moving forward. 

Anti-racism campaigns, inclusivity for non-traditional lifestyles, and pandemic-related lockdowns have altered not only the kind of content creatives need to use, but the ways in which they access it. 

Have a look at the highlights from Shutterstock’s 2021 Diversity Report, next. 

Shutterstocks 2021 Diversity Report > Shutterstock 2021 Diversity Report: Social Movements and Lockdown Effects on Visual Content

And don't miss their special diversity collection!

Anti-Racism Social Movements 

Two phenomena that sparkled in the US and quickly took global center stage last year were the Black Lives Matter and the Stop Asian Hate movements, both ignited by racially violent, tragic events. 

The intense media coverage and continuous debate on social media around these topics certainly replicated in the creative industry, and opened up new challenges as well: 

  • 63%, (almost two-thirds)  f global marketers have adapted their visual contents following these movements in the last 12 months
  • 65% of them believe racial and ethnic diversity are important factors when selecting images for their campaigns
  • 44% find it challenging to reflect their brands with visual diversity in race and ethnicity

Inclusivity and Acceptance Culture

Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand socially, and visually too. In the last year, there’s been a constant rise in representations of minorities across the imagery board, and that seems to be reflected in the way creatives go about their content choices: 

  • In the past 12 months, visual content featuring women has grown by 28%, the biggest growing segment of all
  • Racially diverse models are a close second, with a 26% global increase in content of this type
  • Around the world, marketers are valuing inclusive concepts around themes such as gender identity, lifestyle choices, disabilities, age, and cultural backgrounds. Australia and Brazil are leading in importance assigned to these topics, although they are yet to match that validation with their content
  • Overall, the themes they hope to include more are racially diverse models (68%) and people with disabilities (60%), among others

Lockdowns Restricting Access to Diverse Content

DIVERSITY > Shutterstock 2021 Diversity Report: Social Movements and Lockdown Effects on Visual Content

During all of 2020 and part of 2021, almost every region of the globe underwent lockdowns and quarantines of different levels of restriction. The impossibility of circulating and traveling freely, along with the established protocols of social distancing had an impact on visual content creation:

  • 37% of marketers worldwide say travel restrictions significantly blocked their access to diverse content
  • 26% of them directly could not source content for individual markets
  • And more worrisome, 17% (one in six) claim to have broken lockdown restrictions –thus risking their health and that of those surrounding them– in order to create diversity-focused content during the past year

The Brexit Effect in UK Visuals

In a similar fashion, the exit of the UK from the EU has also negatively impacted marketers abilities to hire diverse content talent:

  • 48% of UK creatives –that's almost half– assures their chances to source diverse visual content is reduced due to Brexit
  • 48% also believes the leaving of the EU on Great Britain's part will kill their chances for diversity-oriented campaigns
  • On the bright side, 39% of the consultants said they will continue committed to accurately representing modern britain with their visuals

The Potential of Authentic, Diverse Imagery in Branding

What is clear is that visual creatives understand not only the importance of using diverse content that represents the world we live in today, but also that it must do so accurately, and honestly. Authentic style is still the biggest trend in diverse content, opening up good branding opportunities as well as creative challenges:

  • 34% of respondents say accurately representing the world we live in is the most important goal in marketing campaigns
  • Consistently with that, 34% of them prioritize authentic world representations over brand purpose, when it comes to branding efforts
  • 75% of all marketers understand authenticity is the core value in diverse visuals, and images should be created by the segments they represent
  • 77% are determined to increase diverse content in their campaigns, 76% believes there's room for growth in this respect, and 74% think using such content helps their brands' reputation
  • 41% of global marketers are communicating their own ideology over other political currents, and 26% are focused on creating their brand's own voice regarding these relevant, social matters

It's an Art-Imitates-Life World – Adapt!

From these interesting insights shared by Shutterstock, we can conclude a few things. The main one: visual marketing needs to accurately include scenes of the world that surrounds us, and diversity is at the nucleus of that world.

This isn't something new: we had already mentioned how our Photography Trends, as well as Color Trends, are all heavily influenced by global events and social movements. But the pandemic and the latest happenings in the political and social spheres have shown just how increasingly changing and demanding the diverse visual landscape is, and how hard it is to stay up to date with it.

What are your thoughts on the Shutterstock 2021 Diversity Report? We'd love to know!

Ivanna Attié
Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

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