African Americans are the second largest minority group in the United States. Successfully marketing brands to African Americans requires that you understand this important segment of the population, their psychology and what motivates them. In essence, any effective marketing plan should contain strategies and tactics to attract black Americans and keep their attention on your brand.
The truth is, African Americans are diverse and dynamic and have different motivating factors for supporting a product, let alone a brand. To be successful in getting your product or service in front of them and garnering their approval, you need the right type of information.
A report prepared in 2012 by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America Inc. helped to shed some light on African Americans and how to reach this market. The document borrowed statistics from the 2010 national census, which showed that the population of black Americans was approximately 42 million, comprising self-identified black Americans (38.9 million) and those who were described as black in combination with one or more races (3.1 million). This amount represents almost 13.7% of the U.S. population. A number of factors, which determine their diversity, including where African Americans live, family structures, status and values, explain the extent to which this enormous group influences market trends both locally and globally.
Know Where African Americans Live
According to a black population Census carried out in 2010, about 60 percent of black Americans are concentrated in ten states: New York, California, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Marilyn, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. These alone represent influential markets for many goods and services.
Research the Various Subgroups of African Americans
To begin with, the classification of African American has changed over the years due to factors that are rooted in pure biology. For instance, more people are identifying themselves as being both black and white since 2000. In fact, up to 2010, people who reported their race as both black and white more than doubled from 785,000 to 1.8 million. As it relates to class and status, there are several sub-segments of African Americans, which have different buying impulses and preferences. They include Urban Influencers, Buppies, Urban Paycheckers, Gatekeepers, “Sisters Doing it for Themselves”, Black Men Working (BMWs) and Traditionalists.
- Urban influencers: Labeled as Gen Y or millennials, these are primarily teens and young adults ranging in age from 14 – 25 years. They are major influencers for many consumer goods, including gadgets, clothing and footwear. They are highly trendy and ‘hip’ due to their obsession with music, sports and fashion, along with a need to be seen and, as such, influence people at both home and abroad. They are highly impatient and constantly seeking the ‘new thing’ so you have to be engaging them at all times in order to successfully market your brand to them. The internet and social media are must-have channels in order to reach them.
- Buppies: This is a slang term for Black Urban Professionals, which are African Americans of the middle or upper class affluent segment. Often highly educated, they can buy what they want and often go for luxury brands. Don’t be fooled by their spending power, however. They are usually still attuned to their black roots and seek to define themselves as such through their social and cultural interests. They are more likely to support your brand if it in some way helps them to develop their individual style and image as members of the black race. They are usually in the age range of 25 – 45 years.
- Urban Paycheckers: Value is the key when trying to attract this African American sub-segment. In contrast to Buppies, they are usually in the lower to middle income category, working from paycheck-to-paycheck. They consist of working families usually living in densely populated areas and often have nuclear families of two parents and two or more children. These people want their dollar to stretch so if your product or service can show them a good deal, they are more likely to support it. Parents’ age group range from 25 – 35 years.
- Gatekeepers: These are African American women, usually in the age group of 25 – 49 years and are highly influential from a family and community perspective. This group also consists of grandmothers and makes all purchasing decisions. Your brand must seem beneficial in some way to their families in order to be successful.
- “Sisters Doing it for Themselves”: Single young women ranging in age from 18 – 38 years, who are upwardly mobile make up this sub-segment. They are highly brand conscious and want products that identify them as independent women. They are also educated and career-driven and, as such, have disposable income, which they will spend if what is being presented to them will help to boost their independent image.
- Black Men Working (BMWs): These are most likely single, working class men who live alone with a mean age of 30 years old. They aspire to having wealth but usually have to watch what they spend due to reduced spending power based on their limited paychecks which are capped at around $30,000 – $40,000. Successfully marketing your brand to this group is a balancing act – not too expensive and not too cheap.
- Traditionalists: The oldest sub-segment, this group is rooted in values and morals that are based on the civil rights struggle of blacks. They are usually highly religious and are also highly influential in the community. Respect is a big deal for them so if your brand can speak to their deep family and community values, as well as seem relevant to their cause, you are onto something.
Introduce Your Brand to African Americans
Having identified the differing sub-segments of the African American community, there are several ways you can get closer and introduce your brand to them. These include:
- Getting involved with black community organizations such as the NAACP, National Black Business Council and National Black Chamber of Commerce.
- Read local African American newspapers. They are in English, unlike many of the publications put out by other minority groups so this is a good way to find out what’s on their minds.
- Go to African American churches. Black Americans are highly religious, with 85% considering religion to be highly important. This is a good way to understand and communicate with them on a community level.
- Participate in events that have a grass-roots component. That way, you will be able to identify with African American history, their likes and dislikes, values and their essence.
There are other tactics and strategies to bear in mind but a good place to start is collecting appropriate marketing data to give you an idea of the spending trends of American Americans. Also, ensure you use the right visual images by using pictures of American Americans (of various hues) in advertisements and campaigns.
For more information about appealing to African American consumers, please contact Stacey Mathis Copywriting at (800) 862-0361 or firstname.lastname@example.org.