I’m honored to be part of music and cultural critic Mark Reynolds’s recent column on Popmatters on Afropunk.  In the column, “Afropunk Is Officially A Brand and That’s A Good Thing,” Reynolds contextualizes Afropunk’s rise from a rag-tag, amorphous group of black kids in the 80s who didn’t quite fit into either black or white worlds to the culturally important festival and lifestyle it reps today.  It’s during the course of talking about this evolution that he references my Forbes article thus:

An article in Forbes by marketing guru Rob Fields, published at the time of last year’s festival, noted that the black consumer market is actually much more diverse than most marketers realized, with Afropunk being Exhibit A. (Afropunk and Black Diversity, and What Marketers Need to Know, August 21 2014) Fields quoted festival co-producer Jocelyn Cooper who described the Afropunk community as not just a bunch of black folk with weird hair but, in marketing-speak, “an influencer community”. Said community is highly educated: Fields cited a 2012 survey Afropunk commissioned of its members, in which 90 percent of respondents reported having at least some college, compared to 57 percent of the population at-large. And it’s also a highly loyal one: nearly half of the study’s respondents said they recommend cool things to others. That’s exactly the kind of stuff most corporate marketers like to hear.

He also notes that brands getting involved in emerging communities is smart business:

Although large swatches of corporate America still haven’t grasped the point, Afropunk’s corporate supporters [Red Bull, Doc Martens, MailChimp, Coors Light] clearly have. They’ve understood a reality about American commerce and culture that transcends race: today’s left-field weirdo might be tomorrow’s global icon, and the crazy kids who support that weirdo are likely to spread the word early and often. They’re also likely to end up in decent-paying jobs, pursue distinctive lifestyles, and buy stuff to furnish their homes.

Read Mark’s full column here.

Posted by Rob Fields