Entertainment Brands Find a New Ally for Reaching African-American Consumers in Urban Barbershops

Black barbershop owners have been doing their own marketing creative and strategy for generations. Why not let them work magic for you?

African-American barbers are changing the marketing game and are now highly sought after by brands that recognize their innate ability to command African-Americans consumers’ attention. Barbers have always served as facilitators of both social and cultural exchanges, and nuisances that take place with the barbershops, so they are perfectly positioned to act as brand ambassadors and help entertainment brand campaigns stand out.

Historically, African-American barbers have acted as a host within the black community, and their customers recognized that the payment for service also afforded them admission to the festivities and camaraderie of “barbershop culture.” Entertainment and global brands are now collaborating with them to drive sales, sample products, promote movie openings and tune-in dates for new tv shows. Media planners are also enlisting them to help create culturally relevant campaigns that resonate with African-American consumers.

Up until now, African-American men and women would only consider making a purchase if a product was endorsed by their families or peers or a celebrity. Even as social media has expanded the realm of influencers, barbers have maintained and, in most cases, built on their role as taste-makers to become the micro-influencer stars. They’ve done it by leveraging their strong social-media engagement skills to develop an ever-widening circle of influence. This phenomenon has quickly evolved, because shop owners have a history of doing more with less. In short, out of a lack of resources, urban barbershop owners have had to be nimble and develop the skills to become their own black marketing creatives, media planners, and strategists.

In many instances, African-American barbers have become more sophisticated in non-traditional marketing than a lot of senior media planners and buyers. But this hasn’t happened by chance! Black barbershops have always been a gateway to the heart of the African-American community. It is one place where a captive audience of African-American men gather weekly to spend money on self-improvement and discuss what’s new. This culture predisposes them to the idea of receiving brand messaging at the barbershop.

These outlets are trusted environments, and they are deeply ingrained businesses within the community.

Most entertainment brands now realize how important it is to reach African-American audiences. According to Nielsen, African-Americans are avid TV viewers, spending over 50 hours per week watching TV, and content providers must provide relevant content to them to capture their attention and their dollars.

Barbers already know how to do this, and what they have accomplished should not be devalued, because they have the power to monetize the culture and narratives in their shops and elevate the marketing strategies of entertainment companies and global brands.

These community-culture-driven, storefront shops provide a unique experience that connects black consumers to each other and the world by ensuring buzzworthy news is expeditiously shared with friends and family. So, the next time your media planning team is developing strategies to connect with African-American consumers, you should give serious consideration to collaborating with some of the best strategist and black creatives in the community—local, black barbers.

Photo by Alex Mihai C on Unsplash

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