Seeing The Black DiasporaTags: 2010 census, Africans, Caribbean, culture, demographics
SUBMITTED BY: Mark Walton, The Africa Channel
Is it time for a new Black Consumer Market strategy?
Before the acronym, AACM (African American Consumer Market) became the industry norm, advertising and marketing executives referred to this segment as the BCM (Black Consumer Market). Well, maybe what was old has become new again.
Fact is, immigrant populations from Africa and the Caribbean when coupled with U.S.-born African Americans make up the new Black consumer market – 42 million strong. While often viewed as distinct and unrelated target markets, these segments have much in common, namely music, food, culture, values and most importantly, heritage.
According to data derived from the 2010 US Census, 11.2% of the Black population can be classified as non-African American. Over 1.2 million people of Hispanic or Latino origin considered themselves Black.
The signs that a Black Diaspora is emerging are all around us.
Take for example, the notion of shared heritage. Washington-DC based African Ancestry.com proclaims that over 100,000 African Americans, including celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Isaiah Washington, have traced their ancestral roots back to Africa through the use of DNA testing.
Then there is the phenomenon of the Tony-award winning play Fela!, which centers on the life of Nigerian music icon Fela Kuti. Now on national tour, the play bridges music and politics, from both Africa and America, for diverse Black audiences.
Similarly, the huge appeal of Nigerian-produced Nollywood movies in the Caribbean community and the popularity of African soap operas, like the South African-produced Jacobs Cross aired on The Africa Channel, are solid indicators that music and culture indeed crossing over.
Even international governing bodies like the African Union and the United Nations have recognized the emergence of a Black Diaspora, most notably by their declaration of 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent.
But what does this mean for the American marketing community?
Is the Black Diaspora the next, new multicultural market to target?
Without a doubt, the U.S. Hispanic/Latino consumer continues to be a burgeoning segment of America’s population, growing larger and more affluent at an impressive rate. However, we must be mindful that this target market is not a homogenous group, but instead is comprised of distinct cultures from over twenty (20) countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Spain and Mexico. Demographers and marketers have found it expedient to classify these sub-groups under one umbrella because their similarities – most notably language – outweigh their differences.
Culture and heritage aside, the most compelling reason for today’s marketers to adopt a new approach to reaching and influencing Black consumers is rooted in economics.
Here are a few noteworthy statistics to further illuminate why the new Black Consumer Market – Black Diaspora – should receive our immediate attention.
Purchasing power. By most accounts, the purchasing power of African Americans will reach or exceed one trillion dollars in 2012. According to the 2010 US Census, African Americans alone had an average household income of $52,084, however, when combined with African and Caribbean immigrants, the average income raises to $53,934. This is quite understandable once you examine the average household incomes of certain well-represented groups, such as South Africans ($125,668), Nigerians ($94,030), Guyanese ($76,316) Ghanaians ($74,500) and Jamaicans ($72,237).
Moreover, a 2009 study by New American Dimensions and commissioned by the US African Chamber of Commerce touts that African immigrants living in the U.S. have a purchasing power of nearly $50 billion.
Age. Marketers of products that appeal to youth or to families with children take note that the Black Diaspora population is also young. Over forty percent (40.3%) of the market is under 25 years of age, compared to 34% in the total U.S. population. The populations with the largest proportion of people under 25 are Somalians (57.8%), Sudanese (53.1%), Nigerians (43.7%), Liberians (42.7%) and Haitians (41.5%).
Educational attainment. What is often dismissed as urban legend is in fact rooted in reality, namely African and Caribbean immigrants are better educated than the U.S. population as a whole. As the chart below illustrates, a number of Caribbean immigrant groups have higher percentages of people who have attended college than the U.S. average (28.9%).
Even more impressive are the percentages of African immigrants with bachelor’s degrees or higher.
Home ownership. The American dream of home ownership is alive and well among many of the groups represented in the Black Diaspora. While 46% of African Americans own their homes, there are subgroups where over 60% of the population falls into this category, namely Dutch West Indians (68.8%), Guyanese (65.1%), Eritreans (63.4%), South Africans (63.4%) and Nigerians (60.8%).
The 2010 US Census is replete with similarly impressive statistics on this young, affluent, well-educated consumer group that could provide the margin of difference for your business or service this year and beyond.
Your new BCM or Black (Diaspora) Consumer Market strategy starts now.