The under-35 African American community in the US is a vital pulse of American culture with incredible influence and rapidly growing buying power. In 2020, smart brands and agencies understand that appealing to the 24.6 million young Black consumers in the US with African American marketing campaigns is not only an idea worth pursuing, but a crucial strategy for long-term success.
Here are 3 things that smart marketers understand about their young Black consumer audiences — and that you should, too.
They’re early tech adopters and avid gamers
The Gen Z and Millennial generations are digital natives, many of whom have grown up with smartphones in their hands and an Internet connection at all times. But Black Gen Z and Millennial consumers are particularly early to adopt and engage with new technology.
In a recent study, 46% of respondents agreed that they are “always one of the first among their friends to try new products or services”. Studies have found that 61% of African American adults agree that new technology is “fascinating” to them. Additionally, young Black consumers are 11% more likely than the general population to own a smartphone — 97% of them have them.
But what they do with these smartphones is even more interesting. Young Black consumers are using their tech to engage with brands via social media, stream video content, and as a tool for creation and entrepreneurship. A recent study found that 66% of young Black consumers are streaming video content — 14% more likely than the general population.
Did you know that 73% of Black Gen Z and Millennials are avid gamers? It’s true — and the lack of diversity in the gaming industry is inspiring rapid innovation at the hands of these young gamers.
They’re ambitious trendsetters and culture creators
Members of the young Black community in the US are ambitious and educated. In a recent study, 76% agreed that they’re “aspiring to get ahead”, and 35% agreed that “achieving a higher social status” is very important to them. According to the GfK MRI Doublebase, they are 30% more likely than the general population to be a college student. And they are channeling this ambition, innovating at every turn, creating entirely new black financial ecosystems in every industry — and the world is taking notice.
Content platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple have recently signed deals with Black content creators like Jordan Peele, Oprah, the Obamas, Shonda Rimes, Spike Lee, and Ava Duvernay — illustrating the financial and creative investment major corporations are committed to making with Black artists and innovators.
The effect of highlighting Black artists and creators is enormous. Not only do these young African American innovators drive black brand loyalty by hiring from within the black community and providing cultural relevancy and representation (as highlighted in a Digital Lives study), but Black innovators also appeal to and draw in consumers from the general population. The ripple effect created by these Black innovators is substantial.
According to a Digital Lives story, “The influence of African American-created content is having a profound effect on the mainstream, as evidenced by a recent Nielsen analysis of TV viewership, in which shows with a predominantly Black case of a storyline focused on a black character drew substantial non-Black viewership.” A recent study showed that 93% of young Black consumers are more likely than the general population to be heavy TV viewers. Black media is impactful.
And, of course, Black innovation goes far beyond the scope of digital media. Black entrepreneurs are on the rise in every industry. Smart brands are taking notice of the way that young African Americans are innovating, merging genres and industries, and making positive impacts around them.
They’re socially conscious, and expect brands to follow suit
Black Gen Z and Millennial consumers are both deeply connected to their cultural identity, and deeply conscious of the social issues around them. They expect brands to represent them and understand them, as well as represent the causes and social issues they care about.
In a recent study, 79% of respondents indicated that “my cultural/ethnic heritage is an important part of who I am”, and 81% agreed that they “desire equal opportunity for all”. Young Black consumers want to see representation and understanding from the brands they choose to be loyal to.
And anyone marketing to Gen Z knows that this generation is an extremely socially conscious group of people who deeply care about social issues. They view their consumer habits as an outlet for their values, so they are known to support brands that bring to life the values they live by. Gen Z expects brands to behave ethically, to give back to their communities, and to care about social issues — and they have no problem discontinuing their support of brands that fail to live up to their values.
And in a post-2020 landscape? You can certainly believe that’s the case. “When it comes to African-American consumer spend, there are millions, sometimes billions of dollars in revenue at stake,” says Andrew McCaskill, Senior Vice President, Global Communications and Multicultural Marketing for Nielson. “With 43% of the 75 million Millennials in the US identifying as African American, Hispanic, or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy.”
Marketers need to recognize the powerful tools available to them to create brand excitement and buzz for young Black consumers. This is a demographic that cares about creative, cares about cool, and cares about consciousness — there are indicators at every level of their consumer choices. Brands can and should understand who the young Black consumer is — an ambitious, entrepreneurial, and socially conscious individual — to create campaigns that truly resonate with the demographic to drive substantial brand loyalty.