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Analysis: Blacks ‘Increasingly Affluent, Educated and Diverse’

African-American consumers continue to forge new inroads and break outdated stereotypes on a number of fronts from education and income to social media and civic engagement. So say the writers of a recently-published report produced by industry leader The Nielsen Company.

Combined with an influx of affluent and educated Black immigrants, the buying power and influence of the Black consumer rightfully demands far more attention – attention that many point out has been long overdue

During the 45th Annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation ALC meetings, held, in Washington D.C., Sept. 16 – 20, executives from Nielsen shared more insights on the untold story of the African-American consumer.

Participants that greeted the enthusiastic crowd and highlighted parts of the landmark report included: Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice president, U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, Nielsen; the Rev. Jacques Andre McGraff, co-chair, Nielsen’s African-American Advisory Council; and Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher, The Washington Informer and chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association [NNPA].

Special guests in the audience included: the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president and CEO, NNPA; and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“The size and influence of affluent African Americans is growing faster than that of non-Hispanic whites across all income segments and the impact is being felt across industries,” Pearson-McNeil said. “These larger incomes are attributed to a number of factors including youthfulness, immigration, historic educational attainment and constant, relevant dialogue across various social media channels that have an impact on African-Americans’ decisions as brand loyalists and ambassadors.”

“Savvy marketers are taking notice,” she added.

DeGraff praised Nielsen for continuing to produce its “Diverse Intelligence Series.”

“We believe this ‘untold story’ is both timely and critical to understanding African Americans in 21st century America,” he said. “This is a treasure – a jewel – that everyone needs to see. Blacks are part of the American landscape. We spent $1 trillion last year on consumer goods. No one can ignore us or what Nielsen has put together in its fifth year of developing this report.”

Rolark Barnes said business leaders should not make the mistake of “underestimating the value of the Black dollar.”

“The NNPA has been involved with Nielsen for the past four years and as always, this report sets the record straight,” she said.

“The Black press intends to use the findings and beat out story after story like a drum. For 75 years we’ve served the role as the voice of Black America so we’re used to telling untold stories. And from the barber shop to the pulpit we’re going to get the word out – Blacks are powerful consumers,” Rolark Barnes said.

Highlights from the report, which examines trends in Black households who earn $100,000 or more annually include:

  • Fifty-four percent of Black immigrants are U.S. citizens, compared to 47 percent of all immigrants.
  • Blacks expect brands to reflect their own values: 40 percent of Blacks say they expect brands to support social causes.
  • Blacks spend more time watching TV (42% more) on PCs (13% more) and listening to radio (4% more) than the total population.
  • In 2014, 70.9% of Black high school graduates enrolled in college, exceeding the rate of both whites and Hispanics.
  • Black household income rates increased at every level above $60,000.
  • The largest increase in Black households between 2005 and 2013 came at incomes of $200,000, which increased by 138%, compared to a 74% increase in total households at this income level.

Pearson-McNeil said the results from the report illustrate how mainstream media often gets the “story” about Black consumers wrong.

“Our results show that what tends to be shared on the evening news or in many of the country’s newspapers [white] is not reflective of what’s really happening as it relates to Black consumers and Black households,” she said. “This report really gives you the untold story and it’s probably one that’s rarely shared.”

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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