With hip-hop, brands can now reach the young target group of Gen Z in particular. But to do so, the brand DNA must fit the hip-hop culture.
“I said-a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie to the hip hip hop”
Many people will know these lines and have the Sugarhill Gang's song in mind. But what was still a niche and hardly part of the mainstream in 1979 is now a natural part of everyday life for Generation Z. Many young people identify with hip-hop culture, making rappers like their role models. This is a fact that brands can make their own - by underpinning their auditory brand presence with hip-hop beats and lyrics, or even by becoming part of the hip-hop lifestyle. But beware: simply jumping on the bandwagon can backfire in this case!
Fine line between success à la Bosch and flop clip
A rather successful example of a hip-hop campaign is "Like a Bosch" - although rapper Goldroger, who lent his voice to the cult clips, had to take some negative comments from the community for it.
Because the hip-hop image thing can also go wrong - if it just doesn't want to fit. Many food and discounter brands such as Lidl, Aldi, Edeka or also the Rügenwalder Mühle had trumped in the past months and years with rapped campaigns and wanted to reach new target groups - which did not necessarily meet with open ears in the community. The Bo, who gave his voice to the Rügenwalder Mühle campaign, for example, had to take some criticism for it. It becomes clear:
Not every brand fits into the hip-hop world. Brand and hip-hop DNA must fit together, otherwise the project can quickly become ridiculous. After all, hip-hop fans love their culture and can be quite critical if a brand obviously uses it "just" to swim with the wave. It can then happen that products are ridiculed rather than bought.
From niche to mainstream niche
Just like rock or jazz once was, hip-hop was deeply entrenched in niche life for quite a while. From gangster prejudice to turning up your nose at some lyrics, pop culture hip-hop was far from mainstream. Even Gen X and Millennials, who also grew up listening to hip-hop, were exotic if they were hip-hop fans. That has changed over the years. Hip-hop is being (looked at) more and more. It is understood that it is not always just about "the hood" or "Money, Drugs and wh****."
Gen Z, today's 13- to 27-year-olds, have grown up with hip-hop culture almost as a matter of course. According to the Boston Consulting Group, around 42 percent of them identify with it - and find idols and role models in today's artists*. Hip-hop is still a culture of its own, a lifestyle far removed from the mainstream - but hip-hop has arrived in society. Artists, sounds and styles have become defining characteristics of many brands and can reach a very specific group of users. The marketing industry has also noticed this and has taken advantage of the niche, which is now more of a mainstream niche.
Hip-Hop? Let me buy it!
A recent study by The Ambition and Appinio, presented at OMR in Hamburg, shows that hip-hop has not only arrived in advertising and marketing, but can also have a significant influence on the buying behavior of young people. In this study, almost two-thirds of the Generation Z respondents describe themselves as fans of hip-hop culture, and a full 99 percent like at least one element of it. So it's not surprising that over 50 percent of respondents follow personalities from the hip-hop scene. The opportunity for brands: a kind of influencer marketing - in a much more credible and - as the hip-hopper would say - "real" way. Over 50 percent find brand recommendations that come from such artists more credible than classic influencers.
But even far from collaborations, hip-hop influences can be decisive in brand design: While fans of hip-hop spend around 38 percent of their money on things associated with hip-hop, even young people who don't consider themselves hip-hop fans spend 18 percent of their money on products in this category. The general image can thus also be targeted precisely at the young target group.
A hip-hop image makes young and shows the brand in an approachable garb for Gen Z.
Almost 60 percent of the study respondents said that the cultural trend they feel they belong to determines which brand they like. Well-known examples show how decisive this can be.
From Adidas to Gucci: the brands of a pop culture
Whether Adidas, Nike, Rolex or Gucci. Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz or Lamborghini - they all have one thing in common: they are loved and lived by hip-hoppers. They have a place in hip-hop culture, appear in videos of great artists* or their lyrics and show: Hip-hop should not only be used for a clip or a campaign, but is rather image-shaping. Sports brands, brands from the automotive industry or fashion labels, for example, are described as particularly "hip-hop-suited". They can be a credible part of the culture because of their industry.
A recent example of how much hip-hop can influence brand popularity is Pepsi. The brand hosted the halftime show of this year's Super Bowl as a sponsor - and it was one thing above all: the dream come true for many hip-hop fans. From Eminem to Snoop Dogg to Mary J. Blidge, the show featured some of the genre's most influential personalities. Regardless of how Pepsi feels about hip-hop, and without the brand making an explicit statement, 70 percent of the 1,000 viewers surveyed in an Appinio study said they found Pepsi more likeable than before because of the halftime show.
From hip-hop in advertising to advertising in hip-hop
In addition to hip-hop in auditory branding, the whole thing can work the other way around. Some brands have such a firm foothold in hip-hop culture that they appear in artists' lyrics. Almost half of the most successful rap songs of the last five years are said to contain brand names. Whether it's Gucci, Rolex or Louis Vuitton, they've all made a name for themselves in the scene and are now shaping it. They have managed to be promoted by artists without actually advertising or collaborating. For this to work, it needs one thing above all: authenticity.
Your auditory brand presence with hip-hop
Hip-hop combines two areas, which we at comevis can help you with. Because Hip-Hop is not only sound, Hip-Hop is also significantly language. In no other genre do lyrics have such a high weighting. So you can use hip-hop for both your sound and voice branding. We'd be happy to talk to you about how to do this, whether the style fits your brand, and what options are available.
Stephan Vincent Nölke
"Hip-hop is a way to keep the auditory brand presence in tune with the times. To Gen Z, the use of the genre looks attractive, trustworthy and bold."