The Role of Social Movements for Black Audiences and Brands in 2021

Claudia Oddo, Manager, Sales MarketingJan 14, 2021

An Exclusive Pandora Soundboard Study

Yes, social movements still play a crucial role in connecting with consumers. Why? Because even though other stories are dominating the news cycle, social issues are at the forefront of many listeners’ lives.

As we move into Black History Month, we wanted to check back in with our listeners to see exactly how perspectives have shifted. And turns out, social movements are even more of a priority than last year. 5260 SocialJustice blog image1

The Black Lives Matter movement, which re-sparked one of the most impactful zeitgeist shifts for society in 2020, remains a top social movement. This is especially true for the Gen Z + Millennial audiences (BLM Support, 116 index) and Black audience (BLM Support, 166 index).1

With one of the top social movements of 2020 being led by the Black community, here are our top takeaways from Black listeners from our most recent study on social movements:

Hope Persists

When it comes to the Black community, there is a resilience spirit and hope that events from the BLM movement will continue to change the shape of the future (66%) and drive change with new legislation and regulations around police activity (53%).1

This audience also continues to take action and support the community by volunteering time in related BLM organizations (+5%pts* since June), signing petitions (+4%pts* since June), and shopping from Black-owned businesses (+18 pts since June).

Brands can take a page from their consumers to recognize what is important to them and the actions they are taking, to find a roadmap that will help navigate them in these pivotal times in society. Only once you understand your audience, can you begin the work in connecting with them and tailoring your message worthy of their attention.

Take a Stance

5260 SocialJustice blog image2 The message is clear: 70% of Black consumers are more likely to purchase from brands who are not afraid to take a stance on issues/causes they care about. Being a brand on the side of social progress and change will be supported and remembered.

Here’s a little history lesson/example: Coca-Cola. In 1964, Atlanta business leaders thought to look the other way on an integrated dinner honoring Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr.—but not Coca-Cola. They led the way to support this dinner and signaled other businesses in town to follow suit. Moments like these turned brands and the industry into the right direction.

Fast-forward to 2021, Coca-Cola continues to lead by being one of the most vocal brands on January's capitol insurrection. Others? Nike's 2018 Colin Kaepernick spot and Facebook hiring a first-ever VP of Civil Rights this month.

We get it, not all brands can be Coca-Cola. What matters most is to pause, tune-in to your audience and take a stance—whatever that may mean to you and your brand. 5260 SocialJustice blog image3

Utilize Sound To Inspire

Black consumers are not only turning to traditional media forms to stay connected during these times but turning to sound for inspiration and knowledge:
5260 SocialJustice blog image4 Brands need to find these pockets of authentic space and tune into where they can establish a meaningful connection with their Black audience. From podcasts like Code Switch to artists who have been socially active like Lizzo, to J Cole, to Halsey and more, listeners turn to the world of audio to make sense of what is happening.

In fact, over half this audience (61%) believes artists should hold a responsibility to address concerns and issues that affect the community they are part of or are an ally to, and support artists that align with their social and political views.1

Be Part of Change and Take Action

5260 SocialJustice blog image6 This year's start is dedicated to honoring achievements of Black voices of the past and present and recommitment to sharpen our attention toward the progress and change still needed in the United States today.

As members of the media industry, these topics go beyond the human resources departments or c-suites, but for all of us. We need to listen and learn from these voices and our audiences to help guide the industry to support society to a brighter tomorrow.

Consumers are demanding brands to become change agents and stand alongside them. And through the power of data and sound, Pandora deep dives into insights to breaking down the Sonic Color Line with experts in audio/creative, to provide powerful tools needed to create organic connections in solidarity with consumers.

It has always been the time, so start now.

Pandora Audience Insights and Resources:

6 Learnings From Our Latest Listener Study on Supporting Social Movements Do More Than Break Your Silence, and Take Action Press Play: Engage Influential Black Audiences Through the Power of Audio Unlocking the Influential Power of Black Consumers Infographic: Political Change Agents of 2020 The Impact of Black Influence on Culture and Advertising Black History Month: The Soundtrack of Today’s Social Movements Black Americans Respond to Culturally Relevant Ads

  1. Pandora Soundboard, Social Movements Poll December 2020
  2. Pandora Soundboard, Political Road to 2020 Poll June 2020 "*Denotes small sample size"
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