3 Authentic Ways Brands Can Celebrate Black History Month

Here's how your marketing department can authentically celebrate Black History Month and Black culture year-round.

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By Christine Alexis

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Did you know that in 2019, 46.8 million people in the United States identified their race as Black, alone, or as part of a multiracial or ethnic background? While this is only about 14% of the United States population, their influence will continue to grow as their buying power does — which is projected to reach $1.8T by 2024. This sharp increase in buying power can be attributed to the forecasts for the Black population growth. Between 2020 and 2060, the Black population is expected to increase by 22%. What does this mean for marketers? There is projected to be a substantial shift towards multicultural marketing over the next few years instead of a more traditional, generic approach.

We are already seeing this shift play out in advertising, in the first half of 2022 alone, more than 6,000 advertisers spent over $1.2 billion trying to connect with Black and African American consumers across traditional media, including television, magazines and radio. This shift towards a multicultural approach allows for more authenticity in marketing and provides greater exposure for historically marginalized groups. Black consumers (like many other minority consumers) are looking for authenticity, representation and most importantly — action. They want brands to be their voice and partner in fighting injustice. This is critical when considering how to implement a marketing strategy that attracts instead of alienates the Black consumer.

Are you looking to ramp up your multicultural marketing efforts, specifically your Black marketing efforts? Here are three ways your marketing department can authentically celebrate Black History Month and Black culture year-round:

Related: 6 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month Beyond February

1. Amplify Black creators, leaders and changemakers

Organizations traditionally have a much larger reach than individuals. Therefore, it is recommended to leverage those social media channels to shine a light on those with a limited social media reach. By spotlighting changemakers, activists and other key players in the Black community, your organization will transition from being a company that celebrates Black History Month and to being seen as an ally and partner in the Black community. An excellent example of an organization that did just this is Target. The organization launched an initiative called "Black Beyond Measure," where it created a YouTube series that highlights leaders within the Black community. There is also a section of its website dedicated to buying Black, thus leveraging its platform and its traffic to spotlight those with a limited reach.

2. Show the face behind the logo

It's imperative to show the people who make your organization and company culture what it is. Those individuals include social media fans, customers and employees. All of them have ultimately played a role in the success of your organization and deserve to be spotlighted. Black consumers want to engage with diverse content and buy from brands featuring Black talent. In fact, 69% of Black viewers are more likely to watch content in which they're represented, and 55% are more likely to buy from brands that advertise in representative content.

A great example of a company showing the face behind the logo is GymShark's "To the Heroes" campaign, which celebrated three community heroes for the barriers they broke and their overall impact on the community. In addition, the campaign's creative was made by an entirely Black team, from the camera crew to the makeup artists and health and safety officers.

Related: How Can You Truly Make a Difference for Black History Month?

3. Leverage an existing campaign

If your company has an ongoing campaign, it is recommended to leverage it by including it in your overall Black History Month campaign. This will help your brand maintain authenticity while naturally incorporating Black History Month into your content mix. An example is Adobe, which leveraged its weekly social series, "Women Create Wednesday," to feature four Black creators who inspired change in their community. This was a seamless way to incorporate Black History Month into their overall marketing strategy.

Another thing to remember when creating a Black marketing campaign is that the Black community is extremely brand loyal, with 66% of Black consumers more likely to return to a brand with advertising that authentically reflects their race/ethnicity. This is critical because when the Black community sees your brand consistently celebrating their culture, including them in DEI marketing campaigns and overall traditional campaigns, getting involved in the community and exhibiting cultural empathy, your company will gain their trust, and eventually, their loyalty.

Black History Month is here and should be treated as a launchpad to a 365-day multicultural marketing approach. Brands must remember to be vocal not only during the shortest month out of the year but also year-round. This will, in turn, prevent your marketing tactics from appearing performative and will position your organization as an ally and advocate. By truly understanding the communities' pain points, serving as a voice for the voiceless and shining a spotlight on those leading change within the community, you will develop a lifelong customer and a partner in the success of your organization.

Related: Don't Phone It In for Black History Month: 5 Ways to Show You'll Be Dialed In All Year

Christine Alexis

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Director of Marketing and Communications, Americas

Christine Alexis is a marketing executive known for creating programs that highlight multicultural and international markets, build brand awareness, and drive thought leadership. She is the Head of Marketing and Communications for DB Schenker’s Americas division.

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