It’s Time for Streaming Services to Get Serious About Reaching African-American Millennial Consumers

Black salons and barbershops are the perfect venue for doing it.

Fox Corporation recently launched a new streaming service called FOX Soul, which is aimed at African-American millennials. They did it for one very good reason: Black millennials spend about $7.3 BILLION dollars a year on streaming services. Why wouldn’t a major network want a piece of that?

To put things into perspective, millennials now make up a quarter of the American population, and 14% of millennials are African-American. And, as a recent Neilson report noted, African-American millennials spend about 12-and-a-half more hours per week watching video and TV streaming services than other millennials. That’s 33 hours a week!

African-American millennials also maintain the weekly or bi-weekly tradition of visiting the beauty salon or barbershop in their communities both to refresh their looks and to catch up on the latest in gossip, sports, politics and, of course, entertainment. If anyone is going to know what’s worth watching on a streaming service—or which streaming service is worth watching—it’s a black salon or barbershop owner who not only streams content on flat screens in shops while clients are waiting to get serviced, but listens and learns from his or her customers and makes recommendations based on real-time feedback.

Black millennials are also transcendent trendsetters in media consumption across all platforms, so if a streaming service can influence them, it has done some pretty heavy lifting in terms of reaching the millennial demographic across the board. Add to that the fact that African-American millennials in barbershops are a relatively captive audience, and you’ve got a recipe for success that is hard to replicate in almost any other venue.

So, how does a streaming service go about activating its brand in an urban black salon? It starts with creativity. Providing barbershop owners with customized branded swag such as posters, t-shirts, and other promotional collateral to drive, tune-in, and build awareness about the new series, movie or documentary will spark conversation and excitement among customers. But the experience shouldn’t end there. Streaming services already know the power of online engagement, but they may not know how much engagement the average black barbershop owner already commands—think in the hundreds of thousands of followers.

Make no mistake, African-American barbers are micro-influencers, and if they recommend your content, you can be sure word is going to get around.

For this reason, streaming services and global entertainment brands should have a solid strategy for creating excitement in the shops. One way is to create competitive activations between urban shops in different area codes and even different markets. For instance, challenge barbershops to outdo each other by offering incentives for the most social media engagement for your show and watch their Instagram or Twitter light up.

Currently, the three streaming media services that are most popular among African-American millennials are Netflix (87%) YouTube (52%) and Hulu (49%), but if your company isn’t among those big three, barbershop marketing gives you a big opportunity to outplay them and win one of the most loyal and influential audiences for streaming and on-demand. So, what are you waiting for?

Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

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