Black Buying Power Is Now $1.3 Trillion Strong And Not To Be Ignored


Written by Nikki Igbo
Black Entrepreneur recently reported that Black buying power is forecasted to be $1.3 trillion this year.

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A 2014 Nielsen report entitled “Powerful. Growing. Influential. The African-American Consumer” specifically noted that the African-American woman is “a trendsetter, social maven, head of household and business and community leader” and is “becoming more empowered with saving, spending and investments.” The African-American woman is also “progressive with her thoughts on health, entertainment and diversity in advertising.” Hence, Shea Moisture should have known better when they created that silly commercial—and other advertisers need to recognize that we are not to be ignored as a consumer block.

Yet, in 2013, out of the $69.3 billion companies spend on advertising across television, radio and print media, a mere $2.6 billion (or 2.6%) of that amount was spent on media focused on African-American audiences. This a huge misstep for anyone attempting to garner (and keep) the Black spending dollar because nearly 40% of us are more likely to purchase a product where African-Americans are included in the advertisement.

Any advertisers who have done the work of earning the trust of the Black consumer stands to make a huge mistake in abandoning their Black base for a wider, and perhaps Whiter, audience. According to the 2014 Nielsen study, it is those businesses who have maintained a Whites-only focus on consumers that need to embrace diversity in advertising particularly with the inclusion of messaging directed at African-Americans. African-Americans are still the largest racial minority group in the United States. Additionally, our influence of popular culture is so strong that 73% of Whites and 67% of Hispanics believe that Blacks drive American culture, which is why advertisements that include us also positively influence the buying habits of Whites and Hispanics.

Furthermore, when it comes to those products having anything to do with hair and beauty aids, Blacks purchase at a rate nine times higher than others. A whopping 81% of us believe that such products with advertising that includes us is indeed more relevant to us. Hence, when Shea Moisture ghosted us from their last ad, they appeared to have dismissed just how germane we are to their product identity AND they severely discounted the 80% of us Black women who regularly share with our friends how much we like a product.

Shea Moisture trotting out their new advertising strategy online verses print and television was also a huge faux pas. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize the degree of Black involvement on social media, yet I believe most would be surprised to learn just how active we are on the web when it comes to buying goods and services. Seventy-eight percent of us own smartphones while 81% of us show support for a brand on social media and 76% of us are more likely to rate, review and share our brand experiences.

All the statistics I’ve shared thus far should serve as a clarion call to any brand who thinks it is okay to dismiss the importance of the Black consumer. For Black consumers in particular, it is also important for us to never underestimate our valuable contributions to the American marketplace. Our household incomes are increasing, as well as our business ownership with each generation that continues to pursue higher education. Plus, even for those of us in lower income brackets, we are amazingly resilient to market fluctuations and understand like no other segment of American society how to save and spend according to our personal needs. When we collectively decide that a brand or a product is not worth our time, we make a huge impact on that brand’s bottom line. We NEVER EVER have to tolerate mistreatment from any advertiser and we absolutely have the power not to.

What are some other examples you've seen of brands dismissing the Black consumer?
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Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

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