Black-Americans Respond to Culturally Relevant Ads
Black consumers are young, influential and hungry for personalized experiences. With a population of 46 million in the U.S. and total buying power of $1.2 trillion, this group should maintain top-of-mind importance for all marketers in the U.S. Even despite comparatively lower income levels, Black households spend nearly as much of their income as the average U.S. household. The mean Black household income after taxes is $44,229, with average annual expenditures of $40,372.
This important multicultural group exhibits unique behaviors that differentiate them from the general market. They tend to consume more media, purchase more ethnic beauty and grooming products, and are more connected to their ethnicity and culture than the general U.S. population. Black-Americans celebrate their lifestyle through music, television, fashion and social media. And because their level of engagement is more prominent on digital platforms than other groups, they continue to define mainstream culture and wield immense influence over how Americans choose to spend their money.
Advertisers who bank their marketing budgets on delivering general market messaging to Black-American audiences are missing out on true moments of authenticity and connection. Listening to and understanding the specific needs and preferences of Black consumers takes time and resources, but will pay off by making the brand message more relevant and impactful.
Pandora set out to prove this concept by conducting a user study among Black listeners to test if general market ad creative or culturally relevant ad creative leads to a better consumer response. Here’s what we found:
Pandora Tests Culturally Relevant Ad Creative Among Black Listeners
In May 2017, Pandora conducted a user study among listeners who identify as Black and/or African-American to determine if culturally relevant ads achieve greater marketing results. In total, 215 Black Pandora listeners were randomly presented with either a general market or culturally relevant audio ad. While both ads advertised the same brand, the culturally relevant version featured familiar Black nuances in the music bed, voice talent and copywriting. After listening to the selected ad, respondents were asked to answer several questions about how much they liked the ad, whether it positively or negatively impacted their intent to purchase, and more.
After listening to the selected ad, respondents were asked to answer several questions about how much they liked the ad, whether it positively or negatively impacted their intent to purchase, and more.
What We Learned
The side-by-side ad comparison revealed that Black-Americans on Pandora prefer ads that contain relevant cultural elements, leading to higher affinity and purchase intent scores.
Black listeners showed 2x more preference for culturally relevant ads than general market ads.
Purchase intent among Black listeners increased 1.6x for culturally relevant ads than general market ads.
Black listeners agree that featuring familiar music, speaking on issues that matter to the community, and reflecting their lifestyle and culture within the creative are key ways of connecting with Black-Americans.
Cultural Relevance Drives Greater Marketing Impact
Overall, the study confirmed that Black audiences respond more favorably to brand messages and advertising creative that feature some level of cultural relevancy. Incorporating creative elements into the ad itself–like relevant talent, relatable voices, music, themes and insights–drives significantly better results.
“This groundbreaking study provides marketers with tangible proof that culturally relevant ad creative is, in fact, a more effective approach for reaching multicultural audiences,” says Keri Degroot, Vice President of Research and Analytics at Pandora. “We’re constantly seeking to provide useful insights to our brand partners that help them connect with audiences more efficiently and effectively. This user study is just one step further in that direction.”
To learn more about connecting with Black-American consumers, download our new white paper, The Advertiser’s Guide to Multicultural Audiences. It includes the key insights marketers need to know for reaching not just Black-Americans, but also Hispanics and Asian-Americans. And for a quick summary of Pandora’s Black-American user study, check out the infographic below:
 US Census Population Estimates, January 2017
 Selig Center for Economic Growth, Terry College of Business and The University of Georgia, “The Multicultural Economy 2016,” November 2016
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2015
 Nielsen, “The Total Audience Report,” October 2016
 Nielsen, “African American consumers are more relevant than ever,” September 2013
 Pandora Soundboard, The Culture Survey, January 2015