How to Connect with African Americans through Authentic Content

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African American power and influence in the cultural arena is on the rise, and many brands recognize the segment as a major opportunity. To help clients improve their outreach efforts to these consumers, we developed a three-part learning series. We partnered with Google for the initial session to explore beauty habits and trends for African American women. In the second part, we turn to connecting via cultural content.

The Basics

African Americans account for 12% of total US adult population, which breaks down to 40 million consumers. More than half (51%) are under 35, making for a young segment that will be important for years to come. They also command considerable purchasing power ($1.2 trillion).

Beyond their demographic and economic prowess, their impact lies in cultural power and influence. African Americans are very influential, both at an individual and national level.

Inspiring Family Portrayals

African Americans want to see ad executions that fight misrepresentation with non-stereotypical visuals. More specifically, the majority enjoy seeing ads highlighting aspirational ideas. Spots showing the traditional family set-up and active parents score very high.

African Americans are more likely to say mothers wear multiple hats. Due to their own perceptions of dad being absent, mom is looked to for protection, provisions, strength, and love. They appreciate and relate to ads that acknowledge a mothers’ hard work and dedication.

Dare to Go There

Brands cannot afford to stay out of the conversation; it is imperative to take a stand. Understand and respect the issues your audience cares about. Decide where your brand fits on specific social, cultural, and political issues. Remain steadfast in your decisions without worrying about backlash.

Provide Authentic Representation

African American consumers enjoy seeing diversity on their screens. They take pride in being part of mainstream narratives, and relate to content that explicitly includes them in the conversation. Incorporate multicultural and African American-specific visuals, cultural cues, and ideologies into ads. Be cautious not to perpetuating stereotypes or unrealistic scenarios in your creative.

The Power of Music

Music plays a major role in the lives of African Americans. Nearly half cite listening to music as their favorite activity (see chart below).  R&B/soul music ranks at the top in terms of preferences, followed by hip hop/rap, and gospel.

The Role of Religion

African Americans are more likely to be religious/spiritual than any other segment, with 41% of respondents citing they are an active member of a religious institution.  They also over index on attending religious services and watching religious TV programs. Incorporate subtle nods to this spirituality to connect with them on a deeper  level.

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