In 2020, Volkswagen launched an ad that many people called racist. An outsized white hand takes a black man and pushes him away from a parked yellow Golf in the video. What had to symbolize the uniqueness of Volkswagen cars caused immediate outrage among the audience and apologies from the company.
Why did it happen?
Even the most rational people are subjective and full of subconscious biases. By creating this video, marketers probably didn't want to offend anyone. Yet, they failed to consider IAT events as the main obstacle to effective communication and perception of information.
Would you like to learn more about how I-A-T works and what does the IAT measure? This article details IAT testing and reasons to consider its impact.
What is IAT? What Does the IAT Measure?
IAT (I-A-T) or Implicit Association Test is a test that allows researchers to spot potential prejudices people may have. It is believed that every person has a set of explicit and implicit beliefs that affect how they perceive the world and other individuals. Whereas we can recognize explicit ideas, implicit beliefs are hardly noticeable. Therefore, only specialized tests on our subconscious can provide insight into the implicit. They are critical in many cases since most people's actions depend on their subconscious stereotypes.
What does the IAT measure?
IAT testing measures the strength of associations between concepts (e.g., women) and evaluations (e.g., bad, good) or stereotypes (weak, needy). It allows researchers or tools conducting the test to detect what IAT biases the tested person has.
Implicit bias examples
Not all women want to have kids, and not all policemen like donuts. If you still think so, it's one of the implicit bias examples. Here are some other implicit bias examples to know:
- Gender bias, also called sexism, is favoring one gender over another. It happens when a person associates a certain gender with specific traits or characteristics. For example, men are better job candidates, men never cry, etc.
- Ageism discriminates against people because of their age. Based on recent data, two in three workers aged 45+ have experienced discrimination in their workplace. These are usually the ideas that older people are less competent or efficient. Yet there are also cases when the youth faces ageism due to the stereotype that young people lack experience.
- Name bias implies that people prefer specific names over others. In most cases, Anglo-sounding names are the favorites. As a result, a person with an unusual name may cause negative associations that are not true.
- Beauty bias or ‘lookism' is when we make our minds about a person based on their looks. For example, good-looking candidates have higher chances to get a job offer.
Besides the listed implicit bias examples, there are also the halo effect, confirmation, conformity, affinity, status quo, and many other biases. They all affect how people perceive each other and the information they get.
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How Does IAT Testing Work?
Modern researchers use simple software to run IAT testing and get IAT reports. It shows a test asking participants to categorize images or words on the screen by pressing specific keys. Their choices and the time to respond to different pairs of stimuli reflect the mental associations.
5 Reasons for Businesses to Consider IAT Biases
I-A-T is fun not only for people who want to know themselves better. IAT events are a valuable source of information for marketers that want to build campaigns winning the heart of every consumer. Here we list the main benefits of IAT reports for businesses.
#1. It Can Save You From Financial Losses
Imagine your marketing team didn't check the implicit meaning of your campaign before showing it to the public. If the audience spots any racial or gender bias, it will cost you more than a reputation. You will need to apologize and call off all related marketing materials. It leads to significant financial losses for two main reasons. First, the money invested in developing the marketing campaign will never pay off. You will have to create a new one and do everything from the start. Second, the people deeply offended by your initial message may stop buying your product or services. As a result, your sales will inevitably decline.
Hence, every marketer should have an understanding of implicit biases. It allows them to build successful strategies with a high ROI.
#2. IAT Events Can Power Implicit Marketing
Biases won't harm your brand image if you use them right. For example, you can use them to create humorous marketing content. Actually, the funny and witty content is more memorable than standard messages.
Yet, this approach is not suitable for all cases. Generally, advertising videos shot as a part of a more extensive marketing campaign are a perfect occasion to add some humor.
#3. IAT Testing Tells You More About the Target Audience
You shouldn't rely on universal implicit biases too heavily since everything may be different for your target audience. Biases vary depending on gender, age, social status, and many other factors.
Therefore, ideally, you should run the research for the specific market segment and get a personalized IAT report. These findings will feature the stereotypes your potential and current customers have. This way, you will tailor your implicit marketing efforts to maximize their results by meeting consumers' expectations. You will also avoid situations when the content can hurt your brand reputation because people consider it irrelevant or offensive.
#4. You Can Enter International Markets More Successfully
If you have successfully sold your product locally, it doesn't guarantee you will have the same success in other countries. Consumers abroad have different values, beliefs, and stereotypes than those you have gotten used to. Therefore, you need to know them better using sociological and psychological information, including IAT reports.
You can hire professionals to run market research for you or at least use the information available online to understand your target audience. It allows building a customer persona for each location and relying on its characteristics in your marketing campaigns. The insight into the subconscious associations of buyers helps nudge them into purchasing your product.
#5. You Contribute to Social Equality
It's a global goal that matters in the world of socially responsible businesses. When creating non-discriminating advertising materials, your business promotes equality and conveys the correct values. It benefits your image since people perceive your brand as a company that contributes to the well-being of consumers. Besides, you are more likely to grow a loyal audience who likes your offer and corporate principles. These people will stay with you for years and regularly return for repeat purchases.
Inkit For Building Successful Marketing Campaigns
Inkit is a reach enablement platform that allows marketers to build personalized campaigns. It offers APIs to integrate with your existing systems for automating direct mail marketing, customer data verification, and PDF rendering. After integration, you can build cross-channel marketing campaigns tailored to users' preferences. This way, you adapt marketing to the personal characteristics and implicit biases of every buyer.