Behind the targeting of black shoppers
African Americans have $1 trillion in buying power
October 8, 2013
African Americans consume a lot of media compared to the average person, and they’re particularly partial to media that reflects their personal experience, such as cable channels aimed at blacks or blogs with black writers. Yet advertisers are putting only a small fraction of the money spent on advertising toward black media. That’s one finding of a new study from Nielsen examining African Americans’ buying habits and influence. It finds that this group wields $1 trillion in buying power, and it’s a number that will grow to $1.3 trillion by 2017. Meanwhile, blacks wield a lot of influence over popular culture, in the view of other groups, including whites and Hispanics. And blacks spend a huge amount of time with media, with African-American women watching more television than any other group. Yet advertisers seem to be missing opportunities to target this minority group. Just $2.24 billion of the $75 billion spent on TV, magazines, radio and digital ads last year was funneled to media focused on black audiences. Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice president of public affairs and government relations at Nielsen, talks to Media Life about how buyers can target blacks more effectively, what ad categories target this group most frequently, and why blacks influence other groups’ buying power.
What did you find most surprising or most interesting about this report?
We were pleased to see the diversity in African-Americans’ online digital behavior.
From the amount of time spent on education and career web sites to family and lifestyle web sites to the corporate information that blacks seek out online–it’s not something that gets talked about often when a story is being told about black consumers.
What can media buyers and planners take from the report?
Some companies believe that, because there are no language barriers, a general market “one-size-fits-all” strategy is an effective way to market to African-Americans. But just the opposite is true.
It is not language that yields connectivity with blacks but rather a brand’s ability to understand the cultural nuances that resonate with blacks. Blacks tend to be more receptive to messages when they feel valued, so incorporating media that focuses on culturally relevant themes among African-Americans is a great way to add value to an existing campaign.
How does African Americans’ buying power compare to other minority groups, such as Hispanics?
Seventy-three percent of whites and 67 percent of Hispanics say blacks influence mainstream cultures, so the black influence extends beyond the group’s $1 trillion annual buying power, because they have the ability to impact how other cultures spend as well.
How are African Americans more aggressive consumers of media than the average consumer?
Blacks watch more television (37 percent more), make more shopping trips (eight more), purchase more ethnic beauty and grooming products (nine times more), read more financial magazines (28 percent more) and spend more than twice the time at personal web sites than any other group.
What’s the significance of the fact that African Americans spend more than twice the time at personal hosted websites than any other group?
It’s important for marketers and advertisers to understand that this consumer segment is not monolithic. By understanding, for example, that blacks like to blog, or post, or own their own web sites points to how influential African-Americans are with other cultures and that they appreciate having a voice on matters and issues that are of importance to them.
Blacks like being able to control the story that is being told about them. So often it’s not told in a positive light by others.
Are African Americans more or less brand loyal than other minority groups or whites? How receptive are they to trying new things?
Blacks spend 18 percent of their annual retail dollars on store brands, otherwise known as private-label items. While this behavior is similar to other consumer groups, there are certain categories that blacks prefer to be store brand that other consumer segments aren’t as store brand loyal to–like frozen prepared foods, frozen vegetables, bottled water, juices and drinks, nuts and sugar or sugar substitutes.
Why is so little advertising focused on black audiences?
Some companies believe that they can just as easily reach blacks through general-market advertising.
But when we consider the fact that 81 percent of blacks believe that products advertised using black media are more relevant to them, we see that there’s a disconnect between that belief and the fact that only 3 percent of all television, radio, magazine and internet advertising dollars were actually spent with media focused on black audiences in 2012.
Imagine how much potential growth companies leave on the table when they don’t attempt to reach African Americans through black media with creative concepts that resonate with black audiences.
Which media are more likely to focus on advertising to this group?
Some companies are doing it right. The industries that are advertising the most with media that focus on black audiences are quick service restaurants, automotive, motion pictures, telephone services and insurance companies.
The top five advertisers with media focused on black audiences are Procter & Gamble, L’Oreal, McDonald’s, Unilever and the U.S. government.
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