According to a new report from Nielsen, “the eighth annual report in Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series on African American consumers, Black influence on the economy and pop culture has been intensified by participation in the digital universe and adoption of social media and technology platforms. From video streaming and podcasting to gaming and shopping for food online, African Americans are leaning into digital know-how and open-source innovation—with unprecedented impact on brands, elections and what the country watches, buys and listens to. Black consumers are boldly galvanizing in the digi-sphere to critique, connect, collaborate and create.”
From Consumers to Creators: The Digital Lives of Black Consumers, launched at this year’s Congressional Black Caucus Conference in Washington, D.C. last weekend, further revealed that African Americans, representing 14% of the U.S. population (47.4 million), are using unfettered access to technology as a means to broaden their reach and express themselves on their own terms and pointed to streaming as a primary source of entertainment for African Americans. Apparently, they stream videos more frequently on all devices than the total population, especially on phones. Black consumers’ music streaming habits played a key role in R&B/Hip-Hop unseating Rock as the No. 1 music genre in the U.S. in 2017, the report notes.
“African Americans are leveraging innovations in technology and social platforms to level the playing field and get ahead in a marketplace unencumbered by corporate barriers to entry,” said Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, Nielsen. “African American influence has long resonated cross-culturally, and now it’s being delivered directly from creator to consumer. Give talented, creative people unobstructed access to the world stage and, inevitably, they will shine.”
Digital gaming co-creator Jesse Williams, best known for his role on Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy on ABC, was highlighted in the report. “As a company, Visibility knows that our strengths are also the market’s weaknesses: Black ownership of Black creativity. Technology is an opportunity to make decisions that no longer divorce people from their power. We set out to empower our culture–to lead and learn without fear,” he reported.
And Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code and a Nielsen External Advisory Council member, said of the report, “The breadth of Black America’s digital footprint has grown exponentially with the rise of smartphone technology and increased access to new mediums for content exchange. The access to technology among Black consumers is a lightning rod for innovation that’s opening doors of opportunity to creativity, entrepreneurship and financial independence.”
Other key findings include the following statistics:
- 90% of African Americans live in a household that owns a smartphone and have a higher weekly reach for social networking on a smartphone (75%), as well as watching video on a smartphone (66%) and audio streaming on a smartphone (45%).
- 19 million (28%) of Twitter’s 67 million users are African American and 9.3 million (or 20% of all African Americans) are on or self-identify using Black Twitter.
- African Americans 18+ are increasingly tuning into podcasts, with 70% growth in engagement from 2014 to 2017 (from 2.12 million to 3.60 million).
- African Americans make up a significant portion of U.S. gamers. Seventy-three percent (73%) of African Americans 13 and older identify as gamers compared to 66% of the total population.
- Sixty-one percent of African Americans agree that they enjoy learning about technology or electronics products from others (14% higher than for non-Hispanic whites), and 54% agree they enjoy reading about new technology products (8% higher).
- One of the critical ways African Americans spend time online is food shopping. African Americans over-index against the total U.S. for dollars per buyer spent online in most grocery categories.
- Meal kits are increasingly becoming an option for busy parents. African Americans over-index against non-Hispanic whites by 21% for agreeing they would consider buying meal kits. Some of African Americans’ most common determinants for buying meal kits are to save time on grocery shopping (40% vs. 29% for non-Hispanic whites), on meal prep and cooking (43% vs. 34%) and on meal planning (42% vs. 33%).