Adobe Survey Finds That Emoji Users Want More Inclusive Representation

Posted inCulturally-Related Design
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As the adoption of smartphones and social media has flourished, so too has the use of emojis, those cute little ideograms that your mom still doesn't know how to use appropriately. Early sets were designed for consumers with enough income to afford compatible devices in the US, Japan, and Western Europe, but as the reach of mobile technology narrowed in other parts of the world, requests for new emojis more reflective of these new users broadened, and so has the number of available emojis. A study commissioned by Adobe finds that users value updates to the available emojis, though they still find their options lacking.

Adobe’s Global Emoji Diversity & Inclusion Report surveyed 7,000 users across the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia, UK, France, and Germany and found 83% of users agreed that emojis should have more inclusive options that are more representative. Furthermore, only half felt represented by current emoji options.

High adoption of emoji customization options such as skin tone was evident among Generation Z, with nearly 8 in 10 users choosing something other than Simpsons yellow.

Users have taken to emojis to express and represent themselves; from race, religion, gender, sexuality, profession, and hobbies, these icons provide a graphic shorthand in our everyday communication. As more users adopt and rely on emojis, Adobe’s report found 78% of users feel that customization choices can address gaps in inclusion. Seventy percent of global users agreed that more inclusive emoji choices induce positive conversations surrounding social and cultural issues.

Emojis can be a double-edged sword, however, and with more representation, there are more opportunities for some users to use the options to malign members of particular identities, cultures, and creeds. Almost half of emoji users say that people should avoid using skin tones that don’t match their identity, and 48% felt that using the wrong tone is insensitive and creates discomfort.

Looking towards the future, Adobe’s report indicates that emoji users are confident that the current set will expand to be more representative. Many are excited over more gender and culturally inclusive additions such as Nursing Mother, Bubble Tea, and Person in Tuxedo.

To read more, visit Adobe’s blog.