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Insights for Tapping Growth in African American Buying Power

Marketing to African Americans

by Kenneth Rudich

To the extent your business has the ambition to assemble and keep a diversified customer base, it becomes critically important to know as much as you can about the distinguishing characteristics and purchasing behaviors of all your customers and prospects.  Such information can help you to better leverage the advantages of target marketing.

Insofar as it’s Black History Month, we thought we’d share some relevant info and resources to help you learn more about African American consumers in particular.

Market Segmentation

According to a 2011 report issued by the Nielsen Company, “State of the African American Consumer,” AA buying power will be nearly $1 trillion annually and is projected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2015. 

They attribute this handsome measure of buying power to the combination of a growing population, along with tremendous gains in household incomes.  “Specifically, between 2000 and 2009, the number of households earning $75,000 or more grew by 63.9%, a rate of 11.7% greater than the change in the overall population.”

Another report produced by BET Networks, “African Americans Revealed,” also furnishes useful consumer profile information.  Its single most important message, however, rests with the idea that AA consumers are NOT all alike as a group.  Rather, it suggests there are seven different Black Consumer Segments.  They are:

  • Strivers
  • Conscious Sisters
  • Tech-Fluentials
  • Bright Horizons
  • Urban Dreamers
  • Inner Circle Elites
  • Survivors

A few other interesting tidbits from the same study include:

  • AA’s have a higher tv and internet engagement than non-AA’s
  • AA Web 2.0’s are more heavily involved in social networking than the general population Web 2.0’s (including blogging, IM, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) creating more word-of-mouth marketing
  • Online AA’s mirror the general population’s demographics
  • AA’s spent more time on the internet, purchase more high technology items, and look to the internet for info and entertainment more than the general population
  • African American women are fiercely brand loyal and overwhelmingly conscious of companies that appeal to ethnicity and cultural nuances

If you’re already marketing to African American consumers, or contemplating the prospect of testing those waters, this brief post should surely be enough to whet your appetite for obtaining additional information.  And since each report contains so much more for marketers to chew on, we highly recommend giving both a thorough review. 

They are available for free in pdf format. 

State of the African American Consumer

African Americans Revealed



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