Are Hip Hop and the Upscale Market Mutually Exclusive?

Jay-Z

Now that Jay-Z has called for a boycott of Cristal champagne, will other companies/design firms pay attention?  Or do most companies feel that the Hip Hop market is expendable?  CNN notes that not every company that markets an upscale product holds the same opinion as Cristal:

While some companies may shy away from being associated with a culture often marked by misogyny and violence, it is undeniable that hip-hop wields immeasurable power and influence in business.

Aspirational in some respects and now synonymous with youth culture in many corners of the world, hip-hop has long been credited with — or criticized for — having an impact on everything from clothing to cars…

Lucian James, an executive with a branding agency that tracks mentions of products in Billboard’s Top 20, warned that in a fast-changing marketplace luxury brands in particular must capture relatively “new” customers while maintaining “traditional or old” customers.

While the people at Cristal believed that the Hip Hop endorsement only served to cheapen their brand, other companies welcome the added exposure that comes from a rapper dropping brand names in their songs:

“Hip-hop is really a language of the younger generation and it’s always great for a brand to be relevant with the younger or next generation of buyers,” said Kass Dawson, who heads emerged markets at Mercedes-Benz.

“We consider it a compliment of the highest order,” Dawson said, adding that Mercedes has sponsored events related to awards shows and hip-hop magazine parties. “It really speaks to what our brand stands for — the success, status, aspirations.”

The rest of the article can be found here.

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