Why African-American Consumers Don’t Always Respond to Traditional Entertainment Marketing (Hint: Location, Location, Location)

To reach a consumer segment with nearly $1.5 trillion in buying power, more marketers should spend a day at the salon.

Marketing entertainment brands is all about driving awareness and leveraging strong levels of engagement, which is why when the latest superhero flick comes out, general consumers face a barrage of reminders to buy a ticket through everything from branded toys in their kid’s happy meals to ads on the sides of busses. Yet for all of their ubiquity, those general campaigns often don’t succeed in getting African-American consumers to make a purchase or tune in because they lack one thing—cultural authenticity.

Unlike the general market consumer, African-American consumers engage more with advertising that is relevant to their lived experience, but what makes this segment a bit different is that where they are being marketed to can be a game-changer too.

Location, location, location. It matters, because historically African-Americans have had to create their own safe spaces where their likeness is reflected.  And they can have share experiences in a forum that’s comfortable among not only the stylists and barbers but other patrons.

The effect of the African American salon experience creates the unique opportunity to connect with this coveted audience on a more personal and emotional level.

Since the turn of the 19th century, beauty salons and barber shops have provided this space. Even today, urban salons are the epicenter of discussions about television, film, and music, making them a perfect location for sparking organic infused marketing and word-of-mouth endorsements. Furthermore, hairstylists are in the unique position to set trends. They see many of their customers weekly for hours on end, and they are actively conversing with them about what’s new and interesting in the media. To truly influence African-American consumers, entertainment brands must be a part of these organic conversations.

That’s not to say that general marketing campaigns never influence black consumers, but entertainment brands can’t afford to leave that up to chance. No longer can you just bolt on African-American consumer marketing, you need to build it into your marketing strategies to effectively reach this consumer. Today, the leisure-time spending of African-American consumers amounts to $3.1 billion annually. Being smart about capturing those dollars can make all the difference.

Starting on the ground, in the places and spaces where black consumers bond is especially savvy when you consider the social media power of those same businesses. Black salons and barbershop owners often have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of online followers—followers that entertainment marketers would otherwise spend countless hours and dollars trying to cultivate themselves.

By marketing through salons and barbershops, entertainment marketers can get people talking and continue the conversation online, creating natural, fluid and relevant discussions that will more likely lead to purchase or buy-in.

Photo by Chris Knight on Unsplash

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