Juneteenth: Opportunity Knocking

Summer is finally around the corner -- May is just about over, and most of you are already preparing your Memorial Day weekend plans -- headed to the beach, backyard BBQs, picnics in the park, and so on.

So as we celebrate, let us all remember that these activities are in commemoration of those that have served and given their lives for our country, acts of courage and bravery well worth celebrating! But, did you know that just a few weeks after your Memorial Day celebration, thousands of young African Americans and their families will celebrate Juneteenth all across the country?

I'm assuming some of you are scratching your heads right now -- Juneteenth?

Well, one of my clients scratched his head, too, when I recently referenced Juneteenth in a meeting. I was providing recommendations for the brand to tie its efforts around local market events this summer to reach young adult African American consumers and Boston was one of those markets.

Boston may not top the list of the nation's mecca of multicultural movement. However, the recommendations came relatively easy and, as a part of my list, I included Juneteenth, of which the awareness and celebrations happen to be very prevalent in Beantown.



Fortunately, the event recommendations for my client were very well received, although I did hear back from him inquiring to hear more about Juneteenth and what it's all about. This piqued my curiosity and prompted me to ask a few other clients, colleagues, and peers if and how they celebrate Juneteenth. What I quickly came to realize is that a lot of people aren't aware of this historical celebratory event.

According to, "Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas, a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings."

Many African American families and communities treat this holiday as a cross between Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. Since it takes place in June, it often involves outdoor celebrations at parks, beaches, or simply the back yard. And much like Thanksgiving, it is typically a large gathering of family and friends.

Many families schedule their family reunions around this holiday. It's truly a time to reflect on our history and take those events and experiences to use as an educational component and cultural connector while also serving as an inspiration and motivator to continue to look ahead and fuel our future.

As we creep into June, I thought the timing was appropriate to share this bit of history and why I think it's relevant to marketers.

Brands should not lose sight of how important it is to identify and establish a meaningful cultural connection with African American consumers. It is obviously not strictly about cultural connection when it comes to African American consumers, but it is a nuance that matters.

Based on our recent research exploratory, "The New Black," we understand that young, Millennial-aged black consumers are part of a New Era, with New Expectations of themselves and New Expectations of brands, and they do not define themselves simply by their race.

But they also understand and recognize that their history, their race and their culture all play a big part in who they are. Our research also reinforces how important the attributes of Expression, Discovery, Connectivity, Creativity and Openness apply to The New Black consumer.

So, I encourage brands to strongly consider a Juneteenth strategy or approach when exploring summertime activations to connect with African American consumers. The holiday gathering delivers against all the attributes of Expression, Discovery, Connectivity, Creativity and Openness addressed in our recent findings and, quite simply, it reflects your brand's knowledge of the culture, your brand's interest in what's important to them, your brand's desire to celebrate with them and your brand's ability to empower them.

Make your Memorial Day weekend a memorable one and Happy Juneteenth!

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