How does your brand celebrate Black History Month? If you’re a retailer, do you set up a designated space in the store to showcase Black-owned products during the month of February? If you’re a media or broadcast outlet, do you add special Black programming to your line-up and set it to expire after the end of February? If you’re a marketer, do you shift your focus to the Black consumer during February more than any other time of the year? Or, does your brand rush to get something out for the month—perhaps a “Happy Black History Month” statement on your website? If you do any of this, good for you for acknowledging this time, but what should you really be doing during Black History Month?
Black History Month is a time to celebrate the contributions that Blacks have made to our country. It’s a time to celebrate our ancestors and those who are currently making significant contributions that will one day take their place among the annals of Black history. But, what is Black History Month NOT the time for?
This is not the green light to signal a 28-day period to target Black consumers. Unlike that January 1st resolution to hit the gym hard that after 10 burpees morphs into complacency with your current state of health, the Black consumer is still around on March 1st and beyond. According to the Selig Center of Economic Growth, in 2020, Black buying power was $1.6 trillion; that buying power extends well past the month of February. Where Blacks are seeing themselves and how they’re being depicted in the media should top the list of considerations in brands’ marketing strategies. According to Nielsen, Black viewing power in 2021 was at 1.06 trillion. Research shows that there is still work to do in getting representation right.
For the month of February, C+R and its CultureBeat team have adopted a theme of “More Than.” We encourage keeping a discerning eye on your marketing efforts to the Black community more than just during the month of February. How you do this is by familiarizing yourself with the diverse make-up of the community and by taking the time to learn about their rich culture. What misconceptions are there about Black consumers? How do they identify, and how can brands become allies by encouraging and celebrating their diverse makeup? Where do Blacks feel they are overlooked, misunderstood, or even forgotten in marketing efforts? Do these present opportunity areas for brands?
We are not discouraging acknowledging Black History Month. By all means, please do.
- We are encouraging you to think past February.
- More importantly, take this time to strengthen your connection to this community by getting to know them and learning about their rich culture.
- Share elements of your marketing strategy that show that you are authentic in your efforts to connect with this community.
- Make it clear that you value the Black community, their contributions, their dollars--all year-round; proclaim that this is not a "February thing” for your brand.
We are ready to partner with you in your efforts to connect with, and gain loyalty from, the Black community. This month, keep an eye out for the blogs and videos that we will share as part of our continuous goal to amplify the voice of this community. Toward the latter part of the month, we will release our eBook, More Than Meets the Eye: The Countless Shades of Black Identity, that highlights some of the diverse identities that make up the Black community. Lastly, if you’re not ready to have the discussion in February about how to connect authentically with the Black community, our CultureBeat team will be here when you are ready, year-round.