Black Americans are the most prominent trendsetters and consumers of this age.
Whether through fashion, music, lingo, or dancing, Black people serve as a powerful force in determining what is trendy and innovative—ultimately impacting how Americans spend money.
Through their 2019 Diverse Intelligence Series (DIS) Report on Black American spending habits, Nielsen Holdings found that Black consumers are adaptive, willing to try new things, and some of the most receptive to modern forms of advertising.
Nielsen also determined that Black buying power, which compares to the gross domestic products of some countries, is often driven by a focus on culture and the moral values of the brands they patronize.
Direct support and representation are vital in obtaining the Black dollar, and maintaining the interest and engagement of Black consumers is an important step in garnering support from other communities.
As natural trendsetters, Black consumers have the ability to bridge gaps between brands and the various audiences that they are aiming to reach. Young Black people are especially impactful in the popularization of products, such as sneakers, and the use of distinct words and phrases. Referred to as African American Vernacular English (AAVE) or Ebonics, phrases such as “whew chile” and “rent free” are often labeled as internet slang and “stan” culture, which both ignores its categorization as a distinct dialect, and leads to the appropriation of Black culture. Companies who contribute to AAVE co-opting are often publicly shamed for doing so, even if it is under the guise of appearing edgy and on-trend.
Nevertheless, by having a role in the direction of broader cultural interests, Black people regularly impact the tactics that companies use to appeal to their consumers. Black consumers are, therefore, vital to the success and cultural relevance of modern advertising.
It is important that companies engage Black audiences, but they must also remain considerate of what they choose to depict and what sentiments they are appealing to. Within the past few years, especially the past few months, there has been a large push for companies to appeal to Black communities, whether through representation or engagement with social issues. However, in cases like that of Band-Aid, where the expansion of a company’s products to accommodate diverse audiences seems long overdue, the intended impact of being inclusive and appealing to the moral standings of consumers is often lost.
Inclusivity is only the beginning of amassing support from ethnically diverse communities; it also must align with the actual desires of the consumers. Campaigns that are mindful of what consumers actually want are more likely to be mentioned in the multicultural discussions that occur on social media. Not only can these conversations provide significant revenue growth, but they allow for Black and multicultural consumers to feel represented and seen without feeling as though they are the recipients of meaningless pandering.
Further, these exchanges also give brands the ability to seek out potential employees that can contribute to their diverse campaigns, as social media houses much undiscovered talent.
Massive growth is almost inevitable when brands, companies, initiatives and agencies captivate and appeal to Black audiences, as they are often the key to advancing popular culture, and opening the pockets of other consumers.
Engagement and exchanges that are tangible, intentional, and genuine harbor much success in campaigns intended to reach diverse audiences. Acquiring Black consumer trust is arguably the best place for brands to start.
Cory Utsey is a writer, blogger and journalist, currently studying journalism and interdisciplinary humanities at Howard University. Much of her work covers mainstream media, culture, intersectionality and social justice.