African-Americans Still Vital and Growing in the U.S—Nielsen

As the largest racial minority group in the United States, the influence of African-Americans on the nation’s culture is pervasive‬. With a collective buying power estimated to reach $1.1 trillion by 2015, Black consumers remain at the forefront of social trends and media consumption, according to the new African-Americans: Still Vital, Still Growing 2012 Report—the second installment to The State of the African-American Consumer Report released last year, a collaboration with Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).

Nielsen has identified several factors that make the African-American consumer segment so uniquely diverse. Dynamic influencing factors–such as technology, social media and online connectivity– enable the Black consumer segment to leverage its collective power and influence. This segment, with its tremendous potential, holds a wealth of opportunities for businesses and advertisers, which makes understanding the Black consumer a critical need.

Key findings on the African-American consumer include:

  • African-American consumers wield buying power. In certain Nielsen Designated Market Areas (DMAs), there is a correlation between a large Black population and a large base of higher-earning Black households. The Washington, D.C. DMA, for example, is 25 percent African-American and has some of the highest African-American median household incomes in the country.
  • Despite the collective aging of America, the African-American population remains young. On average, the African-American population is 14 percent younger than the American population as a whole. The median age for African-Americans is 32, and 54 percent of the Black population is under the age of 35.
  • African-Americans have interest and influence in the upcoming elections. Approximately 71 percent, or 28 million, of the African-American population is of voting age. Like many other Americans, Black consumers use the internet to obtain candidate information. During the primary season, African-Americans’ sources for political information included the candidates’ official sites and online newspapers and magazines: 78 percent were more likely than the average adult online to visit barackobama.com; 50 percent were more likely to visit online magazines and 25 percent were more likely to choose online newspapers for candidate information.
  • African-Americans’ consumption patterns are not indicative of the total market. African-Americans make more shopping trips and offset this greater shopping frequency with less spending per trip, making quicker, smaller purchases based on short-term needs and not on deal availability. As is true among non-Black households, the younger generation of Black households offset fewer overall shopping trips with higher per-trip spending than their older counterparts. But, in all instances, Black households spend less per trip than non-Black households. Brands represent 82 percent of Black households’ total purchases compared to 31 percent for private labels.
  • African-Americans are receptive to segment-specific advertising. Eighty-one percent of Black consumers believe that products advertised on Black media are more relevant to them, and 78 percent of African-Americans would like to see more Black models/actors used in ads. More than half (51%) would purchase a product if the advertising portrayed African-Americans positively. However, total advertising expenditures on TV, radio and magazine spent specifically in African-American media is only approximately one percent of the total advertising dollars spent with general market media during this same time period, which reached almost $2.1 trillion—a disparity that indicates a possible opportunity for businesses to reach African-American consumers
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