The Success of Black Panther and The Role of The Underrepresented Consumer

$241.9 million.

That’s how much money the new hit marvel film “Black Panther” brought in over the four day holiday weekend. crushing records as the biggest Presidents’ Day opening since“Deadpool,” which opened at $152 million over the same weekend in 2016. It is the second biggest four-day total in history only behind “Star Wars The Force Awakens.”

The historic film has now brought in an estimated $426.6 million globally since it’s premiere in several international markets last Tuesday. While these numbers are huge, the numbers are expected to grow even more on March 9 once the movie opens in the second largest movie market in the world, China. The film has yet to open in Japan and Russia.

With “Black Panther” shattering records around the world and reaching box office numbers that even Marvel has yet to fathom, discussions have continued to run rampant that this one film could singlehandedly change the movie industry by rewarding diversity in front of and behind the camera. In fact, according to Comscore, 37% of ticket buyers for this film were African-Americans and women made up approximately 45% of ticket buyers. These staggering numbers highlight the opportunity that brands now have to ensure their marketing strategies recognize the intercultural influence of black women on the general market.

Film industry expert Scott Mendelson likened the success of Black Panther to “giving a starving demographic a prime filet.” In 2017, we saw many companies that opted to serve these often neglected customer groups receive big paydays. in a subtle approach Microsoft Women paid for product placement in the hit 2017 movie “Get Out,” and McDonald's, @WalmartLabs, @CocaCola and Toyota Showcase have all made noticeable efforts to reach diverse consumers.

Why the increased attention? The black community’s increasing spending power is a major factor. In 2016, the purchasing power of African-American consumers reached $1.2 trillion, and will hit $1.5 trillion by 2021. African-American women are the ones leading the charge, with 23% over the age of 25 completing at least a Bachelor’s degree (up from 18% in 2005.) And advanced education has led to higher wages for black women and increased entrepreneurship. In fact, the U.S. Census Survey reports that black women are the majority owners in over 1.5 million businesses with more than $42 billion in sales.

Cheryl Grace, a senior vice president at Nielsen, says understanding how the values, needs and wants of African Americans affect their buying decisions has long been a marketing necessity. Lexus played into this marketing necessity by scoring a production placement deal in the actual film, with the Lexus LC 500 appearing as one of the superhero’s tools to fight off enemies. In the film, the exterior of the car is made from bulletproof Wakandan Vibranium, and the side mirrors are decorated with panther claws. When asked why Lexus desired to go after this type of product placement, Walton Issacson the brains behind the deal between Marvel and Lexus says ‘the opportunity was too good to pass up. The luxury car brand had two new cars to promote, and it was the perfect project to connect with younger, and more diverse consumers.’

So how can more of this creative marketing to the African American consumer be accomplished? By inviting more diverse voices to the table.

Currently, African Americans make up only 7% of full time workers in Advertising, Marketing and Communications despite African American women being the fastest growing group of creatives in the world.

To make it easier on brands I created Black Girl Group, a multicultural freleance platform similar to Upwork and Fiverr that specifically connects African American women freelance creatives to companies seeking to market and advertise to African American consumers.

Want to learn more about freelancing or advertising and marketing to black consumers? Email me , tweet me or let’s connect on Linkedin.