How Google empowered people to spend their money more consciously and make a difference for Black businesses
2020 was a very challenging year for Black British Businesses. Already facing systemic discrimination, the Black Community was also hit the hardest by the pandemic, which only increased economic inequality.
Data and statistics showed that Black business owners were four times more likely to be rejected for business loans than any other demographic. When they did manage to secure a loan, they were subject to higher interest rates than other businesses. These obstacles meant Black entrepreneurs felt like they had to push ten times harder to make a breakthrough.
Google wanted to help change that. In 2020 they partnered with ‘Black Pound Day’ - an organisation that seeks to address the socioeconomic imbalances facing Black-owned businesses in the UK – with the ambition to get more and more people to consciously spend Black.
As part of the #SpendBlack campaign Google also supported Black Businesses by giving them free access to all Google tools and providing free training to help them grow and become more visible online.
After George Floyd’s murder and Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 many brands made the commitment to address racial equity within their internal organisations and to tackle racial inequalities in society overall.
But while it is relatively easy to commit to supporting a cause it is much more difficult to make a tangible difference. Google wanted to change people’s shopping behaviour and that was no easy feat. Economic inequality was no doubt an issue most people believed needed addressing but, like with all other big societal problems, they also felt quite powerless as individuals. It was too big a task as the whole system had to change.
To encourage people to spend Black we therefore needed them to realise that they were not as powerless as they thought.
Our target audience was people outside the Black community, well informed, socially conscious, and in the top 50% earners.
They already did socially active things like buying organic food, supporting sustainable companies or off-setting their carbon footprint. They were very aware that how they spent their money could have a big impact on the environment.
Yet what we realised was that they were not aware of – or simply didn’t think about – how their shopping could also impact the distribution of wealth.
Strategy & Approach
Our strategy was to make our target audience see that shopping is not a neutral act and that what is in their pocket has a lot more power than they think. That by making more conscious decisions about how to spend their money they could have a big impact on economic equality.
This powerful truth was translated into the simple strategic thought ‘Your spend is power’, which encouraged people to #SpendBlack and use their power to make a difference.
In November 2021 Google launched a 22-page ad takeover of the Observer Magazine which featured 13 Black business owners. We wanted to humanise the campaign message by celebrating real people and putting the spotlight on real businesses, thus also driving awareness. The same creative ran in Stylistmagazine and The Guardian. All featured business owners were on Black Pound Day’s directory and had benefited from Google training.
At the same time Google mentoring was offered for free to Black businesses, focusing on improving their online presence. This was promoted in the B2B phase of the campaign via Black Pound Day, Levi Roots and other influencers who encouraged Black businesses to grow with Google.
We also worked with influencers to create content that drove awareness of the campaign and encouraged people to #SpendBlack. David Whitely, Tom Malone Jr and Munroe Bergdorf were among those (with a combined following of 1.3 million) who created bespoke content with businesses from the Black Pound Day directory.
Results & Learning
#SpendBlack and ‘Your Spend Has Power’ empowers both businesses and individuals– shining a light on the challenges Black-Business owners face when starting and growing a company, and giving people a simple way to help. With Black Pound Day, Google successfully turned many unconscious buyers into intentional spenders.
#SpendBlack’s campaign has seen over 2,200 Black business-owners trained or mentored, helping Google achieve its overall 2021 DEI target of ensuring 25% of its trained users come from underrepresented communities. Many of the Black-owned businesses which contributed to and featured in the #SpendBlack Observer Magazine takeover have seen trade increase:
- Interiors brand Village and Home reported an 1,200% increase in website visits which translated to more sales and subscribers following the print campaign.
- The Clean Tea Company saw a 50% increase in sales in the week after the release
- Cosmetics brand ColorBlend Makeup witnessed a “large increase” in website traffic and social media engagement, which stayed consistent until Christmas and also boosted sales. As founder Kesha Williams says, “In terms of impact, the campaign has definitely added to the brand’s credibility and visibility... this is the support needed that helps to create awareness.”
Recall of the ‘Your Spend Has Power’ adverts was also strong. According to research by Google, unaided ad awareness increased by 43.1% in the people exposed to the adverts versus the unexposed control cell; aided advert recall and message recall increased by 47.1% and 35.5% respectively.
Influencer content was well received. Sentiment showed huge support for the campaign, alongside comments directly engaging with #SpendBlack.
- #SpendBlack’s campaign has seen over 2,200 Black business-owners trained or mentored, helping Google achieve its overall 2021 DEI target of ensuring 25% of its trained users come from underrepresented communities.