Many executives in the movie industry are guilty of a similar myopia. They have operated on the assumption that African Americans will not attend a movie that does not have an African American lead and/or cast. However, a study conducted by BET this year revealed that 81 percent of movies seen by African Americans did not include an African American cast, lead actor or storyline. This same study also showed that the average African American goes to the movies 13.4 times a year in comparison to the general moviegoer who goes 11 times a year.

So the question becomes: why are these advertisers slighting their most reliable consumer?

According to a 2008 report from Packaged Facts, which publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer industries, Black buying power is projected to rise to about id=mce_marker.1 trillion by 2012. There are currently 343,300 African American households within the United States earning id=mce_marker50,000 or more, as well as “819,700 individuals who earn a minimum of $75,000 per year.”

Although a number of companies have profited by marketing directly to the African American consumer, such as McDonalds, Gucci, Lexus, Lincoln, Procter & Gamble, State Farm, Infiniti, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, overall most corporations and organizations have left the African American consumer out when it comes to their ad dollars.

In “Black Is the New Green,” authors Leonard Burnett Jr. and Andrea Hoffman write: “It would be foolish in the extreme not to tap into this rich buying segment, yet this is exactly what the marketing firms of companies (fail to) do all too frequently.”

While African American consumers are over-indexing (spending more dollars in certain consumer goods categories) in areas such as electronics, cell phones and the latest technology, those same corporations often do little to market directly to the African American consumer.

Marketers have a tendency to lump people into simple groups without considering their diversity within a category. The best example of this happens during February (Black History month) when marketers, if they advertise in Black publications at all, put all their eggs in one basket, so to speak, by only advertising in the month of February.

Although recognition of Black history is considered important, studies show that companies will fare better in the African American consumer market, if they appeal to the consumer throughout the year.

The term “urban” has been used to describe all African Americans for some marketers, despite the reality that the word really focuses more on African American youth, particularly fans of Hip Hop. This categorization leaves out many different segments within the African American population.

In “Black Is the New Green,” authors Burnett and Hoffman identify three key segments:

• Urban/Hip Hop/youth (18-34)

• African Americans (25-54)

• Affluent African Americans (25-44)


Although these findings provide some insight into the African American market, it does not take into account Black teens, African American women, or the Black Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual Transgender community, which are all demographic areas that have increased their buying power and play a key role in influencing purchasing decisions of the household.

BET’s “African Americans Revealed” study, released last year, provides a much more detailed look at key segments within the African American consumer market:

• Strivers: Mostly in their late 20s to early 40s. Are adventurous, fashionable, social mavens who have their eyes on climbing the executive ladder

• Conscious Sisters: Selfless women who are spiritually connected and highly conscious of their culture.

• Tech Fluentials: Digitally savvy and travel in globally conscious circles

• Bright Horizons: Young adults in high school and college who are aware of all available technology and electronic gadgets

• Innner Circle Elites: Working women who are rich in cultural, ancestral and spiritual roots

• Urban Dreamers: Young, urban adults who are social magnets and trendsetters intent on living life to the fullest

• Survivors: Risk-taking teen and young adult males who are hustling to keep their existence in check

With these more detailed insights into the market, advertisers are able to have more information to carefully craft a message and to use Black publications more effectively.

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