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The Multi-Billion-Dollar Consumer Market You’re Probably Not Targeting

October 18th, 2012 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Small businesses hear a lot about the growing buying power of the Hispanic market. But there’s another consumer group that’s just as big but more often overlooked: African-Americans.

There are almost 43 million African-Americans in the U.S., representing 13.7 percent of the population, according to the Nielsen report African-Americans: Still Vital, Still Growing. There are 14.46 million black households—just slightly less than the 14.81 million Hispanic households. Like the Hispanic population, the black population is growing faster than that of the nation as a whole. The black population has risen by 17.9 percent since 2000, compared to 11.3 percent for the overall U.S. population. African-American consumers have an aggregate household income of $695.6 billion, and their overall buying power is estimated to reach $1.1 trillion by 2015.

So how can you capture African-American consumers? While 25 percent of black households live in the suburbs—similar to the percentages for the average American–African-Americans are 72 percent more likely to live in an urban area. If you’re targeting black consumers, consider advertising in media that reach urban dwellers. This could include cable TV stations, radio stations, or out-of-home campaigns in urban areas, or in publications or on websites that cater to particular urban communities, such as New York City dwellers.

In particular, Nielsen says African-American media outlets are a great opportunity for companies to advertise. Black consumers consider these outlets trusted environments, yet many advertisers fail to use them. Because there’s no language barrier with black consumers—the way there may be with Hispanic consumers, depending on the Hispanic niche you are trying to reach—you might think that advertising in general-interest outlets is enough to reach them. However, Nielsen found that:

  • 91 percent of black consumers believe black media is more relevant to them
  • 81 percent believe products advertised on black media are more relevant to them
  • 77 percent believe black media has a better understanding of the needs and issues that affect them
  • 73 percent believe black media keeps them in touch with their heritage

Also consider creating ads and marketing materials that specifically target African-American consumers. Some 67 percent of Nielsen respondents say they would like to see this type of advertising. Seventy-eight percent say they would like to see more black models used in ads. And more than half (51 percent) say they would purchase a product if the advertising portrayed blacks positively.

Image by Flickr user Elvert Barnes (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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