Credit: Nielsen Report

African-Americans are exuberant and reflective—optimistic about present-day advances in income, education, entrepreneurship and healthcare, and determined to forge a better future as influential leaders and catalysts of social awareness against discrimination and social injustice.

With incomes steadily rising at a rate that outpaces that of the general population, African-Americans’ buying power is expected to grow 21.6% between now and 2020, by which time it will reach just over $1.4 trillion, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth.

Led by tech-savvy Millennials, who regard and use technology and social media as extensions of their identity, African-Americans are adept at using and leveraging digital platforms to communicate with each other and the world around them.

African-American consumers are focused on eating well and looking good, over-indexing across a wide variety of product categories, ranging from beauty products to fresh foods and ingredients that reflect their proud heritage and cultural traditions. Given the combination of African-Americans’ penchant for fresh foods and a need for meals on-the-go, there is a clear opportunity for innovation and new-product development in the convenient-healthy eating space.

Black advancement is a multi-generational affair, powered by a civil rights legacy that guides and inspires older African-Americans even as younger Blacks solidify and expand their role as cultural influencers in a pan-cultural American mainstream.

Capital gains. African-Americans have shown strong income growth over the last decade. The percentage of Black households with annual incomes over $100,000 increased from 7% in 2004 to 12% in 2014, and the percentage increase in the number of African-American households making $50,000 or more per year has been greater for African-Americans than it has for the nation as a whole, with the number of Black households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 increasing 18% between 2004 and 2014, compared to 2% for the total U.S. The share of those households with an income under $25,000 declined from 43% in 2004 to 37% of the total African-American population in 2014.

Viral empowered persuaders. Technology and social media is transforming and elevating the way in which African-Americans use their mobile devices. African-Americans are the second-largest multicultural group with regard to smartphone ownership, with 91% of Blacks owning smartphones (compared to 94% of Asian-Americans, and 90% of Hispanics).* The use of social media for community-based activism brought national awareness to issues affecting the Black community, and African-Americans, especially Millennials, are leading the charge to bring about institutional change.

The #BlackLivesMatter, #BankBlack, and #OscarsSoWhite social media movements, all of which sparked national conversations, are just three viral examples of how savvy applications of social media and technology are increasingly able to focus national attention on issues of social, civic and political importance.

Valuing the beauty within. Personal image is highly valued and is regarded with an immense sense of pride in the African-American community. African-American Millennials have higher buying rates (per household) for hair care products and personal soap and bath products than their Millennial counterparts. African-Americans 35 and older also over-indexed (per household) against their counterparts for purchasing these items, as well as men’s toiletries.

Cooking with tradition and a need for speed. African-American shopping norms show that these households over-index for cooking from scratch and using fresh foods, and the majority agree they usually plan meals ahead of time, cook meals frequently, and prefer cooking with fresh foods. African-American households also are filling their pantries with the spices and ingredients of regional dishes that reflect their roots, over-indexing on a variety of pork and poultry cuts, seafood, greens, cabbage, green beans, and dried vegetables and grains. But busy lives and a need for convenience and speed show that there is a clear opportunity for innovation and new product development in the convenient-healthy eating space. Optimism about the future.

In 2012, for the first time in American history, African-Americans had the highest rate of voter registration and turnout of all races, surpassing non-Hispanic Whites in election turnout at 66% versus 64%. And while the majority of African-Americans are optimistic that the country is headed in the right direction, there is an ongoing need in their communities for more affordable housing, healthcare, childcare and higher education. *Source: Nielsen Mobile Insights, April 11, 2016–June 30, 2016.

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