Black Consumer Insights
Simply scheduling an event does not guarantee participation or on time attendance in the African-American community. For the most part, the African-American community’s participation is driven by “Kairos Time.”
The Greek word meaning “the right or opportune moment,” “Kairos Time” reflects a tendency in the Black community to focus more on things that represent instant gratification over events that are clock or calendar driven. African-Americans are more flexible with their schedule; plans can change if something they perceive as more interesting or fun comes up. Their schedules and commitment to attending something remains fluid for a longer period of time.
Kairos Time should never be confused with the term “CP time” (Colored People’s time). Nor should the term “CP time” ever be used in reference to the Black community. Although it is sometimes used inside the Black community, the use of this term by those outside of the community is seen as a negative and demeaning stereotype.
This cultural and situational custom is observed by many African Americans and is an important insight for marketers to consider, particularly when planning events targeting this segment.
“Imitation is the highest form of flattering” only if the originator is credited.
While the Black community has embraced being trendsetters, the issue of “cultural theft” has been and continues to be a bone of contention in the Black community. Many Blacks both young and old believe that Whites have benefited from trend or actions that have been created by, shaped by or are particularly unique to Black culture.
The black community sees the issue of “cultural theft” as more about giving proper credit and recognition to the originator than about a willingness to share. Acknowledging the source is important.
Black Americans place a value on being respected
We all process what we see and perceive through our personal lens. Although it may be uncomfortable to talk about it, the legacy of slavery has a huge impact on the Black community. African Americans tend to view life through a historical and cultural lens tinted by the legacy of slavery and the stereotypes it created. How they see themselves and their perception of how others see them has produced sensitivity to feeling not respected, valued or welcomed. This value is the most important and overarching cultural marketing insight needed to help create the framework for understanding Black America.
Protective Radar (Perceptive Camouflage)
For many Africa Americans image is everything or at least how they appear publically is. Society’s opinion matters. So much so that many African Americans conduct themselves in such a way publically as to avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes – this can include clothing, food choices, dialect/accent, and many other aspects.
This mindset has developed in direct response to negative stereotypes that have been perpetuated for years.
Black is beautiful, again. Or at least since 1980, African American adults are realizing that their “Blackness” has value. This generation isn’t as mainstream as it appears. Yes, they work and interact with a more diverse group of people but as they age and experience various life lessons, they’re reexamining the relationship between their identity and culture with the idea of being successful. They’re realizing that being Black and being successful does not mean having to emulate mainstream society’s definition of success. Instead they are recognizing that with a shift to a more global, more diverse society that being Black has value.Even more, African Americans are embracing their “blackness,” and seeking out opportunities to communicate with like-minded individuals. This trend has only been sped up with the growth of the digital realm.
Black bloggers created the annual Blogging While Black conference to “to give Bloggers of Color an opportunity to meet each other for the first time, discuss current issues affecting Bloggers of Color, and learn about the latest technology that will assist them with publishing their work.”
Mocha Moms was launched in 1997 to recognize African-American families who were participating in the trend of women of color leaving full-time employment to raise their children. It has since exploded into several chapters across the country.
Terms like “Brown” and “Mocha” must be seen by marketers as invitations to reach out to “people of color” rather than another reason to exclude them. Although the majority of participants in organizations like these are Black – there is nothing minority about their spending power and brand loyalty.