Black ExperienceBusinessStacy M. Brown

Marketers Should Show More Respect for Black Consumer: Nielsen Report

The influence of African American consumers is extensive. 

Driven by their tech affinity, passion for sharing experiences, and powered by their omnichannel thirst for information and recommendations, the nation’s 48 million Black Americans are now just approaching their peak earning years, according to the Nielsen report, “It’s in the Bag: Black Consumers’ Path to Purchase.”

The report noted that African Americans are adopting and adapting media and technology in their shopping journey to fit their unique needs and culture. 

The 50-page report suggests that marketers should be aware that African Americans demand that product information and feedback opportunities integrate across multiple media channels. 

Further, Blacks are more likely than the total population to agree that advertising provides them with meaningful information about the product use of others.  

African Americans love the latest trends, according to the report. 

Nearly 40 percent of Black consumers say they are the first among their friends to try new products and services, surpassing the total population by 29 percent. 

“Take a look at how African Americans make their decisions, whether it’s physically or digitally… what we found is that when it comes to making decisions, we abundantly are going to use recommendations as our first line of research,” Cheryl Grace, Nielsen’s Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, told NNPA Newswire. 

“African Americans rely on recommendations, and that’s interesting,” Grace stated. 

The report’s authors said Black Americans are 48 million strong, with nearly 25 million being millennial age or younger as of 2018.  

With a median age of 32, Black Americans are just approaching their peak earning years. 

However, they are already dominating industries from music to fashion, and many others. 

African Americans also are creating apps and digital spaces to serve their own unique needs when the opportunity demands it, according to the report.  

“In a world bombarded by constant new media options and technologies, companies that want African American consumers’ dollars must understand what most influences these consumers and how they influence others on their path to purchase,” Grace stated.  

“Developing authentic strategies that evolve from listening to Black consumers’ needs and demands is not only the best way but the only way for brands to realize the powerful growth opportunity ahead.” 

Alarmingly, the study did reveal that African Americans take in advertising across all channels. 

However, companies that advertise directly to Blacks have decreased their investments. 

African Americans are more likely than the total population to agree that advertising provides meaningful information on most platforms, the report noted. 

But advertising dollars designed to reach Black consumers declined by $1 billion between 2017 and 2018, according to the report. 

“African Americans have a $1.3 trillion annual buying power, and we watch 15 hours or more every week of traditional television, Grace stated. 

“You can reach 92 percent of African Americans in any given week on the radio. When you look at radio, and you compare the consumption habits of how much time we’re spending across these platforms, you’ll see that the advertising spent with African American-focused media doesn’t necessarily add up,” Grace noted. 

Part of that problem is the lack of diversity at advertising agencies, she stated. 

“There need to be more people of color in those firms,” Grace stated. 

While climate change and protecting the environment is more vital than ever, African Americans typically are forgotten in the conversation. 

“African American shoppers are increasingly passionate about their environment, including buying local,” the report’s authors noted.  

When asked, “how important is it to buy local” in multiple food categories, African American consumers named produce as the most important category for local sourcing. 

Understanding the environmental and safety concerns of Black consumers can help marketers understand what matters most to African Americans consumers in making decisions along their shopper journey, the report’s authors said. 

The report concluded that the African American path to purchase is social and circular, with the transaction being a critical step in the process before consumers express their passionate feedback about their experience, be it positive or negative.  

“Brick and mortar and online retailers and service providers should all strive to provide an experience that not only satisfies Black consumers, but creates buzzworthy raves that will quickly be passed on to friends, family and virtual networks in their discovery, awareness, and decision making processes,” the authors wrote.  

“Developing strategies to connect with African American consumers, and assuring that their culture is understood and respected, as well as assuring that their expectations are exceeded will provide far-reaching influence and growth throughout all consumers for many years to come in the evolving American mainstream,” Grace stated. 

To view the full report, go to

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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