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The Afro-Cultural Movement: Building Community and Fandom

At Truth we distil strategy from cultural truths, consumer truths, category truths and company truths, this time it’s all about culture... #Culturaltruths

Taiye Akin-Akinyosoye from Truth Consulting shares how brands have an opportunity to invest in communities and fandoms to build appeal through cultural movements like the recent rise in Afro-Culture.

The Rise of K-Culture

Few have missed the Hallyu wave – the surge of K-culture sweeping across the globe. From K-pop to K-beauty and K-drama, what started as a niche trend in East Asia has become a global phenomenon. Platforms like YouTube and TikTok have played pivotal roles in catapulting K-culture into the mainstream, disrupting dominant cultural trends and consumer preferences. This cultural inspiration now flows in unpredictable patterns, raising the question: what fan movement will emerge next, and how can brands authentically align with cultural phenomena beyond their native roots?

The Emergence of Afro-Culture

Afro-culture and African impact on culture across the globe is not new but it’s now hitting new hights in terms of it’s latest iteration - gaining traction through music, food, and fashion. The African diaspora has significantly contributed to bringing Afro-culture into the mainstream of the Global North, blending cultural elements and proudly sharing their identity on social media. This has sparked widespread interest, mirroring the success of K-culture in attracting a broader fan base without compromising cultural authenticity.

Examples of Influential Afro-Culture Figures

The rise of Afrobeats over the past few years has sparked a modern broader interest in African culture.

  • Music: Artists like Burna Boy, Wizkid, and Tiwa Savage have globalized Afrobeat.

  • Food: Chefs like Adejoke Bakare and Zoe Adjonyoh are popularising African cuisine.

  • Fashion: Designers like the late Virgil Abloh and Duro Olowu are integrating African aesthetics into global fashion.


Left: Tiwa @King Charles III coronation ceremony

Middle: BurnaBoy – First African to headline London Stadium

Right: WizKid – first African to headline and sell out the Royal Albert Hall


Left: Adejoke Bakare -First Black Female Michelin- starred Chef

Right: Zoe Adjonyoh- Award winning chef and author


Left: The late Virgil Abloh – First black artistic director for LVMH

Right: Duro Oluwo – Nigerian/British Fashion Designer and Curator

This momentum showcases a dynamic interplay of diaspora, digitization, and multiculturalism, reflecting evolving consumer interests and preferences. The key question for brands is: how can they genuinely engage with these cultural phenomena to reach new audiences?


Strategies for Authentic Engagement

  1. Find Your Entry Point: Align your company's values with those of cultural creators. Understand the cultural identity to identify opportunities for emotional connection. Highlight brand values that resonate with the culture to connect on a deeper level.

  2. Support Creator Communities: Showcase diversity, address social issues, and engage with the culture through events, guest speakers, and collaborations. Demonstrating genuine interest strengthens bonds with the community.

  3. Play the Long Game: Authenticity and genuine interest are crucial. Your brand must resonate with the culture and consistently showcase its personality and opinions, avoiding short-term, tactical moves.

  4. Let the Culture Guide You: Support and celebrate the culture sincerely. Ensure that cultural representatives inform, co-create, and decide on business strategies. For example, involve cultural figures in advertisements and production decisions to avoid tokenism.


Building Loyalty through Shared Values

Loyalty stems from shared values and interests, cultivated over time through understanding and genuine engagement. Brands must give cultural communities a seat at the table, ensuring a solid and respected market presence. This approach not only fosters loyalty but also enriches the brand's cultural resonance and authenticity.

An example of how an interconnected world shapes and influences in sometimes unexpected but therefore important places. On Virgin flights you can now enjoy Jollof rice on the inflight menu. This West African dish is usually served on flights to Africa, but now it can also be enjoyed on flights to New York and other routes as well, and no, not only during Black History Month!  This diversification and application of food tastes as part of the inflight experience feels modern and embracing culture in an appreciative way.

Photo credit to Sope Agbelusi on LinkedIn

In conclusion, as global cultural movements continue to rise, brands that prioritize community and fandom over mere consumer strategy will thrive. By aligning with cultural values, supporting creator communities, and maintaining long-term, genuine interest, brands can authentically engage with and contribute to more people feeling seen and heard though representation outside dominant culture.


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