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Brief Updated: 9 Apr 2020

Brands Back Minority Business Owners

Savvy brands are adopting a public services role during the pandemic (see Rapid Retail Responses to Covid-19), supplementing or substituting government assistance. Supporting hard-hit small businesses within their multicultural communities, two US corporations have launched social solidarity initiatives, providing free publicity on their platforms as well as business crisis counselling.

  • Harnessing the Communal Wallet: NBCUniversal Telemundo – which has identified that Hispanics own one in four small businesses and 75% of new businesses in the US – has partnered with the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to offer support. The broadcaster will help to promote Hispanic-owned companies impacted by the outbreak via content featured on the national network, local stations and digital and social platforms.

    Personal care brand SheaMoisture, whose products target African-American women, announced a $1m Community Commerce Fund for small black-owned businesses. The programme includes a partnership with We Buy Black, a marketplace to boost financial support for black-owned brands. It will also promote them on Instagram to SheaMoisture’s 820,000 followers.
  • Expert Mentoring & Crisis Counselling: SheaMoisture’s programme includes a new Women of Colour Businesses E-Lab, described as a platform to find resources, mentorship, and advice on surviving economic turbulence. Participating advisers include executives from parent company Sundial Brands and its owner, Unilever. Participants will be eligible to enter a competition to fund a small business’s recovery plan.

    Telemundo is providing resources through its Nuestros Negocios (Our Businesses) microsite, such as advice for navigating the government’s new small business relief programs, in Spanish and English. Business owners can also tune into biweekly forums on social media, featuring experts such as American TV personality Marcus Lemonis, chief executive of Camping World. Live-stream audiences can ask questions, but the sessions will also be posted for later access in English and Spanish.

In the new ‘care culture’, “performance conflates with purpose, and generosity is deemed a new brand metric” writes Katie Baron, director of Brand Engagement at Stylus. For brands rooted within minority communities that already face unique challenges, playing a de facto public services role through this crisis will be crucial to securing consumer loyalty.