“There’s a real schism between ‘old school’ and ‘new school,’” says Buford. “People who own businesses tend to be old school. They assert their ideas and opinions over what the new school, or urban youth, believes or values. Old schoolers have to transcend new schoolers’ differences, which are expressions of themselves and what they represent.”
Before launching Mojo Highway Golden Ale under their company, Mojo Highway Brewing Co. L.L.C., in Washington, D.C., last year, Chairman and CEO Lee Chapman and President and COO Curtis Lewis, both 29, scoured every bit of information they could find to learn about the consumers they hoped to reach.
“We read InfoScan, Competitive Media Reporting, Scarborough Data [marketing research services],” says Chapman. “Anything that would help us understand where and how much the urban demographic spends on beer and why.” Because they wanted to reach their peers-20-something, college-educated beer drinkers-Chapman and Curtis relied heavily on their own experience as well as data on this market.
Their most effective marketing strategy: hosting more than 100 on-site promotional events in clubs and bars. “On-site promotions educate, create awareness and allow consumers to sample our product,” says Chapman. Today, their beer is sold in 60 bars and liquor stores in New York and Washington, D.C.
In many large advertising agencies, traditional focus groups and surveys account for most of the market research. Such methods are
expensive, however. And as Mjini (Swahili for urban environment) demonstrated with its Converse research, the grassroots approach is less expensive and can be equally effective in gathering valuable information.
TAILOR YOUR MESSAGE
Savvy consumers that they are, urban youth can quickly sense if a product doesn’t fit their needs, experts say. Therefore, you should be able to stand behind what you advertise.
“They can sniff out fakeness and insincerity, so your creative efforts have to be real,” says Brannon. “The message is very important too-how you say it and what you say. You have to get input from those who know the market.”
Urban youth have to believe your product or service is for them, says Buford. “You have to ask yourself how do I communicate they’re welcome in my store or that I want them to do business with my company? You must align yourself with the ways they identify themselves in their choice of clothing, music and icons.”
Although being a black-owned microbrewery might initially attract African American consumers, Mojo Highway Brewing Co. L.L.C. has made a concerted effort to build a multiethnic following for its $6 (average cost) six-pack of beer. Crafting a message that resonates yet differentiates your company from the competition is a challenge. The tag line for Mojo-”the perfect detour”-plays off the name [Mojo Highway] and appeals to young consumers who want something other than Budweiser or Coors. The company has no national ads, but Mojo’s public relations agency, Washington, D.C.-based Starnet Management L.L.C., already knows the kind of ads it won’t run. “I can guarantee you there won’t be any frogs, dogs or camels,” says Vincent Sizer. “Mojo wants to attract those who are