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Partners in purpose: How brands can build a more inclusive economy and why it matters

Partners in purpose: How brands can build a more inclusive economy and why it matters

By Edwing Mendez
Senior Designer

When one grows up in poverty, you learn to have a strong focus on how you spend your money. This focus rarely comes from favorite brands or consumer trends, it has to do with survival. Every now and then, some of us make it out of this hole of poverty, but the experience still informs our behaviors—we often look back to see the economic injustice that still affects the communities we are a part of. Where our money goes becomes a big deal: Does Amazon need more of my money? Is my burrito budget better spent at a mom-and-pop taco joint instead of Chipotle? Is there a minority-owned bank in my area?

These are not new concepts. The Black bank movement pre-dates the civil rights era and similar momentum continues today with entrepreneurial game-changers like Killer Mike and Serena Williams. Tristan Walker, founder of Bevel, has even moved his Walker and Company headquarters to Atlanta in search of a Black mecca. By this point, most of us should be aware of the data regarding the changing face of the US economy: 

  • The Census’s estimation that the US will no longer have a white majority by 2042
  • The $1.7 Trillion Spending Power of the Hispanic “market.” 
  • $1 Trillion Spending Power of the Asian-American “market.”

These statistics don’t just include consumers, but also business owners and entrepreneurs who create powerful economies in their own right. A recent report from New American Economy, a bipartisan research and advocacy organization on the growing entrepreneurship of U.S. immigrants, suggests that even anti-immigrant policies aren’t slowing down the growth of these economies. Brands that consider these markets only from the POV of how to pursue the consumers within them are misguided and could be seen as the outsider trying to swooping for purely opportunistic reasons.

Still, a powerful new opportunity can arise for companies and organizations that carefully consider the emergence of a new kind of partnership, one where larger brands take the responsibility to help establish a more inclusive economy by helping build the very platforms where a diverse economy can grow. Looking at how other brands are doing it and well starts the conversation.

For us, by us

Retail giant Walmart is betting on new minority-owned vendors through concepts like a supplier inclusion program. Simple enough, right? If Walmart’s audience is diverse, then carry more minority-owned brands, thus giving diverse business owners same consumer convenience as the big players. Brands as big as this can take it a step further and invest in those same minority-owned business—then be sure to tell the world about it in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.

Business choices equal political statements

Another powerful example exists right here in Kansas City, MO, home to Barkley headquarters: Our local Whole Foods recently partnered with a local brand, Ruby Jean’s Juicery. Like many cities, Kansas City has a complex past with racial and socioeconomic injustice. But slowly brands like Black-owned Ruby Jean’s are breaking barriers and redefining that entrepreneurial partnerships that expand the consumer markets for both brands involved, and Whole Foods is aligning itself with social change that many Kansas Citians are proud to see.

Creating the world we want to see

Diversity has been a big part of the evolution of entertainment, though some might say it’s only been relevant for the last ten years or so but let’s face it Hollywood’s action in this space is long overdue. Netflix has long been a disruptor in the film-making and TV world, so their actions toward creating an inclusive Hollywood economy are just as disruptive. Earlier this year, Netflix released a spot with a powerful message and commitment to their audience: they will make room. Through this very TV spot they back-up that commitment: the roster that made it happen included Red & Co. (a female-founded agency), Malik Vitthal (an African-American director), and The Corner Shop (a woman-led production company). Netflix knows this issue goes beyond casting and will hopefully do this recognizing Hollywood entire economy.

While a multicultural economy has already been in play for decades, current trends show it will only get more powerful and inclusive. How modern brands survive this new tide will depend on the innovative ways they create partnerships to rise with the rest of us.


Purpose is the latest buzz word in business circles, driving headlines, corporate commitments and calls to action from powerful CEOs. As lawmakers call this momentum a “welcome step toward more moral capitalism” and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce commends this renewed focus on social good, today’s brands do well to accept that purpose and profits are inextricably linked. Learn more about how to build your brand's purpose here.

Barkley US

Dec 12, 2019

filed under:
Consumer Products, More, Restaurant, Retail


Consumer Products, Purpose
Consumer Products, COVID-19, Millennial, Purpose, Retail, Scratch, The Useful Brand
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