Consumer Spending: Why Black dollars go where they go

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African-American consumers decide where to shop based on how a company treats them, is involved in their community and portrays them in advertising, according to a study by Yankelovich Inc. and  Burrell Communications, a national agency specializing in African-American and urban markets. In the study, 68 percent of Blacks, compared to 46 percent of non-Hispanic whites, responded that how a store treats customers based on race is extremely important. Fifty-six percent, compared to 17 percent of non-Hispanic white consumers, agreed that “in the past I have felt a security guard/store clerk was watching me more closely than other shoppers.” Forty-six percent, compared to 28 percent of non-Hispanic whites, said they were more inclined to buy from a company that would contribute a small amount of money toward a child’s future each time a purchase was made.

The study, entitled “Yankelovich MONITOR Multicultural Marketing Study 2005,” divides the African-American market into six socio-behavioral segments:

u Emulators (11% of African-Americans) – Generally, students with a median age of 17 who identify with the young urban trendsetters within the African-American culture, but see themselves as unique and independent. While their purchases reflect a need to be unconventional, they also have a need for the social and emotional reassurance of brands that most reflect status or achievement.

u Seekers (19% of African-Americans) – Older, with a median age of 40. More disillusioned about life than emulators. Members work part-time or are temporarily unemployed. With a median income of just $18,000, they seek image and status brands that are popular among the culture.

u Reachers (24% of African-Americans) – Strivers, with a median age of 40 and a median income of $28,000, who are working toward the American dream but are not on the fast track. They often are single parents who care for children and/or an elderly parent, are stressed out and want products and services that give them the biggest bang for the buck.

u Attainers (27% of African-Americans) – Have a more defined sense of self and a solid plan for the future. They seek and appreciate appropriate marketing and advertising that gives them useful ideas and information about how to make their lives easier and better. They have a median income of $55,000. Their median age is 40.

u Elites (5% of African-Americans) – Upwardly mobile African-Americans with a median age of 46 and a median income of $113,000, who live and work in a more mainstream environment but retain their cultural identity and allegiances. Marketers must appeal to them through a broader range of campaigns and executions generally reserved for non-Hispanic whites but which can be personalized for them.

u Conservers (14% of African-Americans) – With a median age of 67 and income of $38,000, this group is mostly retired and their beliefs and values are grounded in the experience and wisdom that helped shape their lives. Marketers must approach them in a straightforward manner.