Advice & Help

7 Things You Need to Know When Marketing to Caribbean Americans

Marketing to Caribbean Americans
Written by Xavier Murphy

The last USA census revealed that the number of Caribbean immigrant residents has increased. This increase opens more opportunities for marketers to capitalize on the strong buying power of the Caribbean American community. When addressing the Caribbean American community, many companies employ strategies they use for marketing to African Americans. This is a huge marketing mistake. While there may be some overlap, these communities are two distinct markets. The buying habits of even second and third generation Caribbean Americans are very different from those of African Americans. To reach Caribbean Americans, marketers must think outside the box and change their strategy to appeal to this audience.

Here are some tips on reaching the Jamaican and Caribbean American markets in the US.

1. Get To Know The Caribbean People On A Personal Level.
Get to know Caribbean Americans on a personal level before selling. Our culture is based on trust, so it will take more effort than just spending a few minutes talking to, or communicating with, the Caribbean American community to start selling us your products.

2. We Are Not Homogeneous.
All Caribbean people are not Jamaican, so do not market to them as if they are. All the islands have much in common, but we are not homogeneous. I know it is easy – and cost-effective – to group all Caribbean people under the “Jamaican umbrella,” but this approach may alienate segments of the population. Marketers who want to succeed must research how best to create campaigns that appeal to the entire Caribbean community.

3. Create Targeted Promotional Materials.
Create promotional materials that will have a personal appeal to the audience. Remind the audience of their culture and the Caribbean country they are from. For example, I am Jamaican. My attention is drawn to items displaying the colors of the Jamaican flag or Jamaican expressions I can relate to.

4. Partner With Caribbean Community Leaders.
Get to know community leaders, business leaders and leaders of influential organizations operating in the different cities of the Caribbean Diaspora. These are people that typically represent the Caribbean American community and are involved in related Caribbean organizations. They can act as gateways into the community and provide invaluable insight. These individuals help to build trust within the community.

5. Embrace The Culture.
Creating a cultural reference in promotional efforts is important. Don’t limit to one reference – “yah mon;” this sends the message that the marketers are lazy. Do the research and talk to people in the community. What are their holiday traditions, behaviors, cultural icons? For example, Jamaicans eat bun and cheese at Easter time and a special fruit cake during Christmas. As I mentioned before, seeing the colors of my flag and things I can identify will appeal to me.

6. Use Caribbean Media.
It is a mistake to discount the power of the Caribbean media. Invest in the community and the community will invest in you. The Caribbean media knows the market and can help you reach the target demographic. The Caribbean media can provide statistics and valuable information on the Caribbean community. Too often, marketers view the Caribbean media as an afterthought. You cannot afford to miss out on this prime opportunity to reach one of the fastest growing markets in the USA.

7. Create Localized Campaigns.
Know the composition of the Caribbean community in the local area. Know what events are regularly celebrated in the area as well as any special events scheduled. For example, there are now annual Carnivals and Jerk Festivals in cities with large Caribbean populations.

The Caribbean American community will continue to grow in prominence and economic power. If you desire to grow your market, it is important to stay engaged with all cultures within the Caribbean American community.

About the author

Xavier Murphy