4 Ways Entertainment Brands Can More Authentically Engage African-American Consumers

Urban African American consumers won’t respond if your marketing isn’t genuine or relevant. Simply “tweaking” your general campaign isn’t enough.

By now, most entertainment marketers realize the vast potential in targeting African-American consumers, but not all of them understand just how to tap into this consumer segment, which currently has nearly $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. The key is making a long-term commitment and creating a meaningful, dedicated messaging strategy from the start—one that takes the unique culture of the African-American community into account.

Here are 4 steps for building a marketing strategy that is authentic and engaging:

1. Be clear about why you’re targeting African-American consumers
The answer should be about more than money, because black consumers are trend setters across all categories, and especially in entertainment sectors, including cinema, television, music, and the arts.

When African-American consumers think something is cool, it won’t be long before mainstream culture follows. African-Americans also happen to consume more media than the general population, watching 37% more television than the general population, averaging 200 hours of television per month, and listening to the radio more often than any other demographic. Entertainment brands that only include black consumers in their marketing strategies as an after-thought are missing a huge opportunity to build and keep momentum.

2. Engage on the ground first
While traditional entertainment marketing tactics like billboards, radio and commercials can reinforce awareness, sparking an organic conversation among the people your target audience knows and trusts is vastly more effective. Outside of church, barber shops and hair salons top the list of places that African-American consumers regularly go to exchange thoughts and recommendations about movies, music, or their favorite TV shows. Introducing your latest film or album in a captive environment where black consumers are actively searching for what’s new is a surefire way to get a buzz going.

3. Create brand champions (hair stylists/barbers)
Black salon and barbershop owners possess major clout in their communities and oversee a mini kingdom in which they set the tone for interactions and conversations between their personnel and patrons. Because they have such deep roots in their communities, they also make some of the strongest ambassadors any brand could have.

Not only is the African-American audience powerful by themselves, they also have a natural ability to tremendously influence the masses. According to Nielsen they are 81% more likely than any other group to influence what others listen to and wear.

Think about how many times a day a hairstylist listens to or offers recommendations. Now imagine that you armed them with custom branded assets, screening passes, etc., guaranteeing that your next project is top of mind. Having an authentic brand champion is a slam dunk, so think of urban African-American salon and barber shop owners as trusted sources. They know the current trends in the African-American community better than almost anyone, and they spend all day immersed in conversations about them. When they are on your side, you can be sure your brand will be part of those conversations.

4. Extend online
Once your entertainment brand has a genuine buzz going on the ground, it will naturally migrate on to social media platforms—especially because African-American consumers are savvy mobile device and social media users who love to share their new trends and recommendations.

Providing local stylists and barber social media influencers with trailers, key artwork, photos, and other marketing materials will help incentivize their followers to go see the film or TV show and generate conversion rates for your brand. Be sure you’re tracking mentions of your movie, music or show so you can identify relevant influencers for your brand and respond with more targeted messages and offers.

Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

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