By Ellen McGirt
Updated: September 13, 2018 2:31 PM ET

African American consumers are digitally savvy and entrepreneurial, expert content creators, and are more likely than consumers of other races to raise their voices on every subject from products to brand behavior to social justice.

And they own all the technology.

In short, black folks are shaping important conversations about business, culture, tech, and public life in increasingly influential ways, and smart marketers need to take note.

These are some of the key takeaways from Nielsen’s latest report, released today, called “From Consumers to Creators: The Digital Lives of Black Consumers.” It is the eighth annual report in Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series on African American consumers, and it is not to be missed. (Nielsen produces annual reports for Hispanic/Latinx and Asian Pacific American consumers, as well.)

It’s also worth noting that influence comes with a price tag.

The buying power of this cohort is expected to rise from $1.3 trillion in 2017 to $1.54 trillion in 2022 – and will continue to outpace the spending of the total national population. (Politicos may want to take note: African-Americans have the highest buying power in Texas, $117 billion; New York, $116 billion; California, $93 billion; with Georgia & Florida tied at $90 billion.)

In a broad sense, what they’re looking for is equity, suggests authors Cheryl Grace, Nielsen’s Senior Vice President, U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement along with Andrew McCaskill, Senior Vice President, Global Communications and Multicultural Marketing; and Mia K. Scott-Aime, Vice President, Communications, in analysis that absolutely must be read.

“Acutely aware of Black history and bounding toward a technology-enabled future, African Americans are leaning into the democratization of digital platforms to circumvent old standards of information and idea sharing as they demand more reciprocal commerce,” they write.

By all means, dig into the numbers, there are plenty of them for you to parse. For example, African American households outpace all other demographics in mobile, tablet, smart TV, smart speaker, and gaming console ownership. We get tech.

But Nielsen’s data ultimately makes the case that black consumers, using an influence informed by identity and values, increasingly expect brands to earn their business by being authentic, socially aware, and responsible. (The section on Black Twitter is particularly compelling.) We’re not looking for a logo to help us assimilate, no, no, no.

“Through social media, Black consumers have brokered a seat at the table and are demanding that brands and marketers speak to them in ways that resonate culturally and experientially—if these brands want their business,” they write.


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