Part One of a Five Part Series understanding the issues that negativity impact the Black Consumer
BAWN-(New York), The U.S headquarters at Gucci has but one simple task that is, to win back public “black community,” trust simply due to the fact that Gucci, recently produced and distributed an item that resembled Blackface, leaving many in the African American community in disbelief. For the record Gucci apologized for the mishap and pulled all item from their retail stores both online physical locations.
In The U.S.A.-we are seeing the rise in potential racist incidents-currently one example is this past week- the Marine Corps are investigating a viral video that appears to show two Marines based in San Diego.
In the video, two men in uniform are wearing black masks with holes cut out around their eyes, noses and mouths. The video opens with one of the men saying “blackface.” The video, which has been viewed more than 245,000 times on social media, according to USA Today. One is heard saying, “Blackface” and “Hello, monkey.” the incident is currently under under military review.
Last month Gucci brand’s recent blackface scandal, leaving many around the U.S. and the world- saying racism was their intention, furthered by the fact that the product in question is a black balaclava-style jumper, which costs $890. and the more tragic fact is it was released during Black history month, The picture above illustrates another well known fashion Giant Prada with their own “Blackface Item.
In a letter to Gucci employees, Alessandro Michele expressed the pain he felt that one of his creative projects was seen as “an intolerable insult”.
In most cases the black public reacted negatively toward Gucci leaving a boycott behind, which gained even more attention and promotion by the likes of Rapper T.I. and Russell Simmons
Rapper T.I. went on a long diatribe, saying he’s not accepting Gucci’s apology and accusing the company of purposefully being disrespectful and racist. He ended his tirade by saying, “I Don’t Give a F*** if I gotta wear Target brand s***.”
In a recent TMZ interview Spike Lee‘s said-he has had it with Prada and Gucci’s racist blackface blunders … so he’s boycotting the luxury brands until they hire some black designers to keep them in check.
According to TMZ-The “BlacKkKlansman” director announced he’s no longer going to wear either Prada or Gucci Friday in wake of yet another blackface controversy from the Italian Fashion houses. If you missed it, Gucci got dragged this week over an $890 blackface sweater.”
This past week I interviewed two subject matter experts who joined our “One World Talks Show conversation- both gentleman re nationally renown and respected-The names included Journalist MO Barnes, and BET, Television, Minister and National Author Kevin E.Taylor- (Hear the Full Audio Interview Below)
We tackled the Gucci’s blackface controversy as it rages on, and here is some the things both had to say:
Mo, Barnes who wrote and article on the subject matter
-It speaks to us directly as a black consumer, and also how black’s use consumption to shape their collective identity…. but that design the women’s sweater was never designed for us to wear…,and he later went on to say Gucci is not for us period. Mo’s ending question was…..What are we consuming-not just consuming and purchasing but what are we consuming within our minds and within our collective identity? That a company such as Gucci worth billions-rappers spend big money-Floyd Mayweather just dropped two hundred grand on it last week. What does it mean to us as a people when we go well out of our way to buy something that was never meant for us but we are tolerant to wear.
Kevin E.Taylor, was forthright in his perception, based on many collective years of entertainment and fashion-Here’s his quote:
The fact that we as a people are so lost in conspicuous consumption, you know having worked at B.E.T at the height of the 90’s and 2000’s in music videos and watching the way that we go out of our way to try to prove that I have arrived and I am somebody-& I must be somebody right,- because I can buy Gucci, I must be somebody can put Gucci in my name.
We never seem to find the capacity or audacity to build our own and make our own big enough!
The Mis-Education Theory
In his historical book Dr. Carter G. Woodson also made a point that Black Americans needed to change their financial habits. He expressed concerned with those African Americans who practiced “conspicuous consumption,” which are eccentric purchases that to prove to others about their financial prowess.
Woodson wrote, “conspicuous consumption is a result of successful enterprise, not the road to enterprise.
They [Blacks] should concentrate on the wise use of their money, and the evil that results from the misuse of it.”
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
African Americans make up 14% of the U.S. population but have out sized influence over spending on essential items such as personal soap and bath needs ($573 million), feminine hygiene products ($54 million) and men’s toiletries ($61 million). Nielsen research also shows Black consumers spent $810 million on bottled water (15% of overall spending) and $587 million on refrigerated drinks (17% of overall spending).
Luxury, non-essential products such as women’s fragrances ($151 million of a $679 million industry total), watches and timepieces ($60 million of $385 million in overall spending) and even children’s cologne ($4 million out of $27 million) also play well to an audience that’s keen on image and self care.
“Our research shows that Black consumer choices have a ‘cool factor’ that has created a halo effect, influencing not just consumers of color but the mainstream as well,” said Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, Nielsen.
These figures show that investment by multinational conglomerates in R&D to develop products and marketing that appeal to diverse consumers is, indeed very much needed.
Current Trends With African American Buying Power.
According to Nielsen-Black consumers account for a disproportionate amount of product sales in a number of fast-moving consumer goods categories. Again, with $1.2 trillion in spending power, African-American consumers are an important population for smart brands that want to grow market share and brand preference. More importantly, the data suggests that Black consumer spending already significantly affects the bottom line in many categories and industries, and brands can’t afford to lose favor or traction with this segment without potential negative impact.
In truth Black Dollars matter! I say it again Black dollars matter, but it must matter to us! “First and Foremost”! In the days ahead we will research this topic further, and lastly we all must go beyond understanding and put a plan of education into action. (glg)
Stay tuned for Part two of this Five Part Series directed toward understanding the issues that negativity impact the Black Consumer and community.
Gregg L. Greer a Public Speaker, Pastor, Social Scientist, and the Editor of the One World internet journal. Greer is the Founder of Freedom First International a human rights NGO, also Black America World News. Greer has written extensively about American politics, civil rights, and the intersection of social justice and politics. Gregg l. Greer is the Founder of Black America World News. His stories have also appeared in The Huffington Post, CNN.Greer writes commentary on Apolitical America, MSNBC Online and others. Listen to his radio podcast at OneWorld Talks -if you are interestehd in interviews from him and others of the brightest minds today, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His website is www.gregglgreer.com