What Data Tells us About White- Versus Black-Owned Jewelry Brands on Instagram

In the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has seen a radical resurgence.

photo from BYCHARI

Activists have taken to Instagram, in addition to a host of other social media, to post informative videos, petition links, and donation sources for the cause. In an effort to show solidarity, the hashtag #blackouttuesday was created, garnering over 29 million posts on Instagram.

However, this effort has been criticized for drowning out critical information being shared by BLM activists, like protest footage and instructive resources. It has also been criticized for providing a simple way for brands to show “solidarity” without making any true changes to increase diversity.

To me, a brand’s quintessential representation can be easily extracted from scrolling through their Instagram page. It is clear what a brand values and highlights through their posts and featured models. To see if there were any trends, I found five white-owned and five POC-owned jewelry brands and analyzed their 50 most recent posts to see how many white and POC are featured.

THE DATA:

I surveyed five white-owned jewelry brands: 79hour, Atelier Romy, Monica Vinader, Repossi, and ANNI LU. On average, they have 19 white models and 3 POC models featured in their last 50 Instagram posts.

I also collected data from five POC brands: BYCHARI, Third Crown, EDAS, Johnny Nelson Jewelry, and Mahnal. On average, these brands have 3 white models and 25 POC models featured in their last 50 Instagram posts.

WHAT DOES THE DATA MEAN?

From the overall statistic of my findings, white-owned brands feature POC at a much lower rate than POC-owned brands do:

Collectively, white-owned brands had white people comprise 38.8% and POC comprise 6.4% of their last 50 posts. The last 50 posts of POC brands were composed of 5.6% white people and 50% POC. Although this was a small sampling of different brands, data could be collected from many different brands and industries to see if this trend persists.

This data shows that certain white-owned brands market to a specific segment of the population, one that appears to not include POC. To consumers, Instagram is a picture of what a brand celebrates. As a POC woman, it’s difficult to shop for clothes or jewelry alike when no model looks like me.

We all stand to benefit from investing in the racial and economic parity of people and communities of color: A report from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation found that closing the racial equity gap would increase US apparel spending by $52 billion from now to 2050. Brands and consumers alike would benefit from increased representation.

The next time you buy, take a second to look at the models and themes featured on a brand’s website and social media. Become a conscious consumer and support brands that celebrate diversity.

*Note: all data was collected qualitatively. If a model’s race was indeterminate, they were not included in the data.

Student @ Wharton

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