Describing authentic consumer engagement can be done best by describing what inauthentic consumer engagement looks like. Inauthentic engagement looks like Black or African American marketed products, campaigns, and statements with undertones of racism and/or stereotypical bias that were not seen before release or publication. From a consumer viewpoint, it becomes clear that a member of that community was not present during the creative development of these products, marketing campaigns, or statement releases; and if they were, their voices were not heard, ignored, or excluded. The goal of authentic consumer engagement is to #amplifyblackvoices, #amplifymelanatedvoices, and #amplifyblackcreatives in corporate offices, production crews, and creative development projects. With this, corporations can be confident in everything they produce to connect with Black and African Americans because it is produced with the oversight and insight of creative Black and African Americans.
This combats “culture vulture” public perceptions because companies utilize Black creators and consultants during the developmental process of campaigns and products that are intended to engage Black & African American consumers. Moreover, authentic engagement is aimed at drawing companies away from the high potentials of the also damaging “cancel culture” phenomenon before having a detrimental effect on your business. Black Certification is social credibility.
Jenelle Coy from the Forbes Agency Council wrote in her article If you want Black audiences, give them a seat at the table, that “When it comes to marketing to black millennials, it’s not what you know, it’s whom you know. No one knows black audiences like black marketers and advertisers. Black-owned agencies are uniquely positioned as both industry experts and members of a lucrative, yet underserved market demographic. This allows them intrinsic authenticity and the ability to leverage that authenticity into winning campaigns for their clients.” This means Black-owned agencies like the Black Certification Agency Inc. boast the most valuable insight into the actual perspective and psychology of the average Black or African American consumer. We believe that companies will never be able to produce authentically engaging campaigns focused on their Black and African American consumers without the direct assistance of that same demographic.
“Having black-owned and black-operated agencies create content, head campaigns and design visuals made for black audiences will show genuine support. Brands are seen as champions and responsible producers rather than culture vultures trying to take advantage. In order to succeed, you have to be perceived as marketing for – not just marketing to – African-Americans. Black voices as a part of the process achieve that. ” (If you want Black audiences give them a seat at the table by Jenelle Coy, forbes.com 2020). Putting this simply, a campaign that is built by Black people for Black people will better engage and impact consumer engagement in the onset and solidify brand relationships with the consumer overall.
Additionally, what we noticed was that consumers, particularly Black millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Xers are now more socially conscious and aware than ever before. “70% of black millennials say they are more likely to buy from a brand that takes a stance on race-related issues”, and; “African Americans are now 58% more likely to expect the brands they buy to take a stance on these issues and are 37% more likely to buy a brand when they do” according to Nielsen’s African American Diverse Intelligence Series 2020. This means the largest businesses, brands, and corporations can no longer be supported by Black capital if they do not explicitly support Black communities, lives, and culture. Africans & Black Americas expect the brands they buy to be vocal about the issues that affect their lives; especially if those same brands in part cause some of those adverse effects on Black Americans.
According to a Forbes article entitled, Understanding the research on millennial shopping behaviors, “60% of millennials tend to gravitate toward purchases that are an expression of their personality — the brand must speak to them at this level and make them feel good.” This means in essence a progressive millennial will be less likely to purchase and highly unlikely to continue purchasing a brand if that brand promotes strong conservative values. This can be seen as some consumers who do not hold any religious affiliations did not feel comfortable shopping with certain brands that openly push Christian values through their products. If a brand is vocal about certain values it holds then naturally the consumer will want their values to match.
C+R research reported that “Because Blacks are younger on average, they’re trendsetters and tastemakers for young consumers of all races, according to the Selig Center. They influence mainstream culture and wield immense influence over how Americans choose to spend their money. Any marketing campaign targeting Millennials “must include messages to reach African-American youth,” notes Nielsen.” in their article entitled, Marketing insights from Black History Month: A look at Black influence on pop culture. Collegegroup.com reported in their article entitled, African American consumers: Cultural Influencers, that “Marketers would be remiss to gloss over a segment with such a powerful sway over the broader consumer base. In this way, the investment case becomes two-fold. Reaching African-Americans generates ROI not only within the segment, but also carries a halo effect for crossover initiatives to the Total Market.”
In closing, it is estimated that by 2024 the African & Black American communities’ annual spending power will have reached 1.8 trillion. As a community, these Americans have built industries solely through their spending. This fact becomes even more apparent in the form of 2.4 Billion being spent annually to market directly to African American communities by: Procter & Gamble, Berkshire Hathaway, Amazon, Pfizer, At&t, Abbvie, Pepsi Co, Progressive Group, Yum! Brands, and Walt Disney respectively. (Source: Nielsen African American Diverse Intelligence Series 2020).
This is why we advocate for authentic engagement with Black and African American consumers. We understand the power and potential of genuinely collaborating with Black creative voices for the purpose of legitimate relationships with Black and African American consumers. We also understand how Black and African Americans influence the broad mainstream marketplace in terms of “what’s trending”. Our executive team members work directly with our Black Certified clients to leverage our public communications and marketing abilities first and then employ BCAs exclusive list of partnered Black-led creative agencies and consulting firms to maintain and assist in the development of various projects.