Understanding and Advertising for the African-American Market

The African-American market is 38.3 million people strong. It comprises 13.3% of the total US population. While the growth rate has slowed over recent years to 1.5%, the average household at 3.2 persons is slightly larger than the 2.6 national average. In this market 79% of adults over 25 hold at least a high school diploma, while 17% hold a Bachelors degree or higher. The median income level of the African-American adult is $29,177 although 23.9% of the population lives at or below the poverty level.

African-Americans spend approximately $600 billion annually. In 2002 they spent $50 billion on automobiles. Shopping is not only for necessity but is a form of entertainment. African-Americans shop in peer groups as a form of social interaction. Purchases are often brand and image driven. This loyalty is even evident in the grocery store. A recent study by Kraft Foods and Proctor & Gamble (African American Grocery Shopper 2000) found that African-American grocery shoppers are hesitant to purchase anything other than a well-established brand.

The African-American youth provide a strong market in the music and movie industry. While this market is usually associated with hip-hop music, the popularity of this music actually begins to wane, as African-Americans grow older. Females in this market tend to favor R&B over Hip-hop by a 50- 19% margin. Over half of the African American youths surveyed by MEE productions attest to attending at least 2 movies a month. Genre preferences tend to be action and comedy, although young African-American women enjoy drama and horror as well. (http://www.meeproductions.com) This presents an excellent opportunity to reach the African-American audience by advertising during movie previews.

Print media is an excellent avenue to reach African-Americans. Magazines such as Jet, Vibe Ebony, Essence, and Black Enterprise have maintained circulation while most other magazine categories lost subscribers. Jet magazine boasted higher sales than US Weekly. Newspaper sales to the African-American market are also up. While newspapers lost 13% of white households, they gained 8% of African-Americans. (http://www.targetmarketnews.com/trendstories.htm) The grocery study also attests to this fact, as they surmised that 58% of African American shoppers are driven by newspaper ads. Another driving force found by this study was the presence of black employees and managers.

In addition to print media, advertising dollars in television and radio are well spent when reaching the African-American population. African American households watch an average of 14 hours of primetime television per week- that’s one hour more than the national average. When you view the daytime viewing statistics according to Neilson (www.neilsonmedia.com) the gap jumps even higher- 11.5 hours a weeks versus only 8 hours in other markets. When choosing advertising time, this needs to be taken into account. Shows such as Wanda at Large, Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer and American Idol rate high in the African American market and advertisers would be wise to choose these and similar programs when deciding where to place advertising.

Purchases in the African-American community tend to range across a broad spectrum, due to the high percentage living in poverty; these shoppers tend to be more price conscious. Popular big-ticket items tend to be in the automobile and consumer electronic industry (televisions, stereos, cellular products etc) The apparel market receives the most African-American dollars. (http://www.targetmarketnews.com/consumernews.htm) As education and incomes rise, branding becomes more important and products must provide status to attract attention.

African-American brands such as Fubu and Sean John maintain the highest loyalty, while brands that do not embrace the market and show the appreciation for the revenue they bring will be quickly dropped (for further information see URBAN MARKET INTELLIGENCE (UMI) VOLUME VIIII (March 25, 2003): Tommy Whofilger? http://www.eurweb.com/story.cfm?id=9276 )

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