Ours is an industry in which there always seems to be a new trend of one kind or another emerging. Unfortunately, you can find yourself chasing after trends that only last a matter of months and then you’re off chasing the next blip on Madison Avenue’s radar screen.
Rather than a fleeting fad, targeting black consumers can be a successful long-term marketing strategy that will only grow in importance, if executed properly with just the right media mix. In fact, if brand executives and agency buyers and planners closely consider the key buckets outlined below – I believe they’ll see a meaningful opportunity that’s worth embracing.
Black Americans this year will spend some $1.1 trillion dollars on products and services. This demographic is one of the fastest-growing market segments and its buying power has been increasing at a faster annual rate due to the growth of the black population outpacing other groups. In fact, it is estimated that the black marketplace will experience a 56% growth rate during 2010-2050.
How Do You Connect With This Demo?
General market media gives you some reach, but to truly connect with black consumers you must also look to include black media in your mix, connecting with this demographic with culturally relevant creative and talent. Black media provides an environment for the community to get a different experience and affirmation of who they are as individuals. For most black consumers this does not typically occur while viewing general market media.
Experiencing culturally rich content and branding within black media, the consumer feels the brand respects him/her and their family. In turn, he/she is loyal and shows support for the brand. The result: the brand achieves a much deeper connection, both psychologically and emotionally, with this audience.
Remember AT&T’s “Rethink Possible” campaign? The brand took a targeted approach to more deeply resonate that message in the black community by telling a narrative through the community’s lens. So it commissioned specially created cultural content that focused on iconic black achievers (whose success was attainable).
Johnson & Johnson partnered with TV One’s One Solution for a multiplatform campaign (extended online at HelloBeautiful.com) called “My Best Me” that demonstrated and celebrated Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to diversity. Multi-generational spots focused on encouraging the black woman (18-to-49) to be her best by channeling the importance of motherhood and health. By creating customized TV content dedicated to each brand and the “My Best Me” program, aspirational messages connected with consumers in authentic and meaningful ways while also organically showcasing individual Johnson & Johnson products.
To increase awareness of Wal-Mart’s involvement in the black community, we worked with the national retailer and its agencies MediaVest, Liquid Soul and GlobalHue to leverage the ongoing national educational and community platform, “History Teaching History” for their Black History Month campaign.
Wal-Mart embraced the aspiring and inspiring spirit of Black History Month to create the overarching theme of “overcoming obstacles” in a new and fresh way by featuring positive images of black men and women and inspiring conversations from influencers.
While a consistent message for the month of February, the company was also able to break through the clutter of numerous Black History Month campaigns by extending the conversation and awareness through May.
Credibility and authenticity of a brand’s overall outreach to the community is also a key element in determining success. Brands that are very committed to diversity should seek organic paths to connect all of the dots with regards to their consumer marketing piece. This requires a very holistic approach, one that cannot be viewed as patronizing. Wal-Mart, the NBA, Johnson & Johnson and many other savvy brands have found the appropriate tone and execution to link their community initiatives with brand messaging in informative and entertaining ways that benefitted both sides of the equation.
The Perfect Cocktail
Use of general market and black targeted media should not be thought of as being mutually exclusive. This is not an either/or decision. It’s about leveraging, at times, an effective total market approach. At $1.1 trillion dollars, the buying power is very real, as is the opportunity to connect and maximize a campaign by tapping into the appropriate levels of each media to reach the right total market mix.
Find the right blend and your fad-chasing days will be over. More importantly your brands will have achieved the perfect media cocktail for engaging this demo.
Byrd heads up New York-headquartered One Solution - the integrated marketing arm of TV One, Radio One and Interactive One.