To Reach African-​Americans, Marketers Turn to Black Media

Researchers have long noted that African Americans have been bigger adopters of new media formats like social networks and smartphones. One reason for this behavior may be that this demographic is generally about 14% younger than the typical U.S. consumer. But, African Americans also exhibit specific behavioral tendencies that make them easier to target through Black media.

The age breakout for the African-​American population in the U.S. looks like this:

  • Age 0–17 28.9%
  • 18–34 25.4%
  • 35–44 14.6%
  • 45–54 22.1%
  •  65+ 8.9%

In addition, these consumers tend to live in or near urban centers. Their overall preference for urban residency is 12% higher than the average consumer. Metro areas with the highest concentrations of African-​American consumers include Washington DC and San Francisco CA.

To reach these consumers, marketers shelled out $2.1 billion in Black media formats last year. This strategy may be especially effective for reaching Baby Boomer African-​Americans who over-​index in spending on quick-​serve restaurants, retail stores and gyms. According to Nielsen, TV and print remain the most effective channels for reaching the Baby Boomer segment of this demographic.

But the recently published “African-​American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing 2012? report indicates that nearly all Blacks relate to Black media and the products they see advertised through these channels. Over 60% of these consumers are happy to see ads that directly address them, a detail which signals to marketers that they can increase sales this way.

[Source: African-​American Consumers. Nielsen​.com. 2012. Web. 2 Oct. 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.