Report: Black consumers wield significant influence

Though African Americans make up 14 percent of the United States population, the group accounts for a large amount of last year’s purchases in several categories.

When considering consumer needs, PR and marketing pros should seek to embrace diversity.

A recent study from Nielsen revealed that minorities, particularly African Americans, have a big effect on consumer markets—and brand managers would be wise to pay attention.

The study showed that minorities including African-American, Hispanic and Asian consumers not only spend considerable amounts on consumer goods, they also make up a large portion of overall purchases in several categories.

In 2017, roughly half of the money spent on dry vegetables and grains—$941.2 million—came from multicultural consumers. Of that amount, black consumers spent $147 million.

Other top categories where multicultural consumers comprised a large amount of money spent include baby food (42.76 percent), soap and bath products (41.64 percent), fresheners and deodorizers (38.29 percent) and self-stable drinks (37.51 percent).

Though African Americans make up 14 percent of the population in the United States, their spending power carries large influence.

Of the $63 million ethnic hair and beauty market, black consumers accounted for $54 million.

Moreover, these consumers spent a total of $473 million in the hair care industry, which racks up $4.2 billion annually. Black consumers also accounted for $127 million out of the $889 million spent on personal appearance products last year, as well as $465 million of the $3 billion spent on skin care preparations.

“[M]arketers should find it interesting that Black consumers aren’t just spending on products created specifically to appeal to them,” Nielsen wrote in its report.

Outside of the health and beauty markets, Nielsen reported that black consumers spent $810 million on bottled water last year, which account for 15 percent of overall purchases. The consumer group also spent a total of $587 million in refrigerated drinks (17 percent of overall purchases) and $60 million on watches and timepieces (out of $385 million spent in the category).

The study has a few implications for brand managers.

First, communicators should be aware that this highly influential consumer group also wants organizations to speak out about social and political causes.

The report showed that 38 percent of African Americans ages 18 to 34 and 41 percent of those 35 years and older expect brands to support social causes. The findings support a previous Sprout Social study that revealed 66 percent of consumers want organizations to take stances on political and social issues.

Nielsen wrote:

Companies should take notice of even the subtle shifts in spending, because black consumer brand loyalty is contingent upon a brand’s perception as authentic, culturally relevant, socially conscious and responsible.

Communicators should also keep in mind this consumer diversity and represent these groups in their PR and marketing efforts—something that, according to a Shutterstock study, many marketers believe could help their brands.

As previously reported on PR Daily:

Though most marketers (88 percent in the U.S., 90 percent in the U.K. and 93 percent in Australia) said selecting diverse visuals could positively affect brand reputation, the majority also said that there’s room for improvement. Ninety-one percent of U.S. marketers said more diverse images could be used, and 93 percent of those in the U.K. and Australia agreed.

“It’s clear that societal changes combined with shifting attitudes are influencing the demand for more modern imagery that represents a diverse range of communities,” said Robyn Lange, Shutterstock Curator.

When creating content catered to diverse audiences, take care not to include messages or visuals that could be potentiallyoffensive, or you’ll have a PR mess on your hands. That’s a lesson Dove learned in October, after apologizing for an ad that many called racist.

Nielsen wrote:

Again, with $1.2 trillion in spending power, African-American consumers are an important population for smart brands that want to grow market share and brand preference. More importantly, the data suggests that Black consumer spending already significantly affects the bottom line in many categories and industries, and brands can’t afford to lose favor or traction with this segment without potential negative impact.

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