In recent years content marketing has transitioned from a customization to personalization model. For example, Netflix’s original programming strategy was to provide viewers with a plethora of content from which they could choose what they wanted to view. Today, Netflix is responding to the demands of consumers, producing content to match their lifestyles and need states. The former is led by the content creator, while the consumer drives the latter.
Included in Netflix’s new strategy is the creation of multicultural content to match their consumer’s needs. Nielsen reported in 2019 that 39% of Black adults watch Netflix, compared to 33% of the total population. Responding to the consumer demand, Netflix not only highlights Black movies, TV shows, and documentaries released on the platform each month, it also created social media accounts and campaigns to target Black consumers called “Strong Black Lead.”
Actress and producer Tika Sumpter and business executive Thai Randolph are looking to replicate the Netflix strategy and personalize content for Black mothers with their new venture. Sugaberry, a lifestyle brand created by and for modern moms of color, includes a curated mix editorial content, original audio, and video programming, interviews, newsletters, celebrity guest contributors, a live event series, and product recommendations. Sumpter and Randolph are also hosting a bi-weekly podcast under the Sugaberry umbrella in partnership with Stitcher called The Suga.
“Black women don’t usually get to delight in mommyhood, which is why I wanted to build a safe and sweet destination for modern moms of color, regardless of what stage they are in,” said Sumpter, whose other acting credits include films “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “The Old Man and the Gun” as well as OWN’s “The Haves and Have Nots.”
When Sumpter sought out info during her pregnancy back in 2016, she said, “Everything was about the death, doom and destruction about black moms.”
On the commerce front, Sugaberry plans to recommend curated products and generate affiliate fees through partners like Amazon. “Our hope is we really get connected to this community, and that translates to us creating our own products,” said Randolph, citing the evolution of businesses like Emily Weiss’s Glossier and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop that started as content plays before branching into ecommerce.
Sumpter and Randolph hired Blaire Bercy, former head of video strategy at HelloGiggles (now part of Meredith), as editor-in-chief and content strategist for Sugaberry. Time Inc. acquired HelloGiggles, co-founded by Zooey Deschanel, in 2015. At Time Inc., Bercy went on to launch The Pretty, the company’s first digital-only beauty vertical for women.
The company’s first media offering will be a podcast, “The Suga,” produced in partnership with E.W. Scripps Co.’s Stitcher, slated to premiere March 23. Hosted by Sumpter and Randolph, the weekly conversation series will explore motherhood from the perspective of notable brown moms. Featured guests will include Jazmyn Simon (HBO’s “Ballers”), best-selling author Justina Blakeney and Dr. Imani Walker (Bravo’s “Married to Medicine Los Angeles”).
Right now, Sugaberry is self-funding because “I feel like it gives us more control over what we want to do without someone saying, ‘This is going to work, this isn’t going to work,’” said Sumpter. She just wrapped shooting the first season of “Mixed-ish” last week and is focusing on launching Sugaberry in the near term.
Sugaberry’s marketing plan is rooted in community-driven word of mouth, starting with Sumpter’s social-media following, Randolph said. “The podcast is important because we’re focused on building a community,” she said. Prior to joining Laugh Out Loud, which is majority-owned by Hart with a minority stake held by Lionsgate, Randolph was a member of Facebook’s global marketing solutions team, managing strategic partnerships and digital transformation initiatives with U.S. agencies.