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Nielsen’s 10th-Year African American Consumer Report Explores The Power Of The Black Community From Moment To Movement

For 10 years, Nielsen has been dedicated to telling the story of the power of Black consumers and their diversity, long before the call for social justice sounded. According to “The Power of the Black Community – From Moment to Movement,” the 10th annual report in Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series on African American consumers, Black influence on the economy and pop culture continues to drive not only significant moments in history, but drive change across industries and digital platforms.

From video streaming, radio listenership and podcasting to buying Black and staying connected to social movements through social media, African Americans are leading the conversation with an unprecedented impact on brands, policies and what the country watches, buys and listens to.

“African Americans are calling out systemic racism while at the same time creating opportunities for growth across social platforms and businesses with various levels of innovation,” said Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights and Engagement, Nielsen. “African Americans have historically navigated these imperfect structures— but this current global reckoning brought on by a unique confluence of moments, proves the power of the Black community and its incredible influence.” Grace is also the founder of Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series of annual reports about U.S. multicultural communities.

Key findings from the report include:

  • There has been an overall increase in buying power across the community, and also where and what African Americans are buying.
    • African Americans are limiting the amount of time they are spending out in public due to COVID-19, and shopping where they can get more value.
    • Blacks make more frequent trips to the store, spending less per trip than the total population.
    • Online shopping is a convenient and safe alternative to brick-and-mortar shopping – this year, 48% of African American households shop online, 11% more than the average household.
  • In the last decade, there have been more successful Black brands, Black-owned businesses, and investment in expanded economic opportunities for African Americans.
    • African Americans are nearly three times as likely to take to social media to show support of their favorite companies and brands.
    • African Americans are now 58% more likely to expect the brands they buy to take a stance on issues and 37% more likely to buy a brand when they do
    • The Black Lives Matter movement has influenced allies to take action as well. For example, Hispanic consumers outpaced African Americans in their expectation that the brands they buy support social causes as well.
  • African Americans have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis, as they’re more likely to be employed as essential workers.
    • Needing to strike a balance between work and home, African Americans are spending the most time on their smartphones compared to the total population.
    • In one week, African Americans spend over eight hours social networking, about three hours watching videos and over one hour streaming audio on their smartphones.
    • Smartphone ownership for African Americans has grown from 44% in 2011 to 98% in 2020—faster than the total population.
  • Podcasts have become a central stage for Black voices.
    • African Americans spend more time per week streaming audio, including podcast listening, than the total U.S. population.
    • In a typical week, almost half (49%) of African American podcast listeners spend about 1 to 4 hours listening to podcasts.
    • Radio has remained a trusted channel for news and information for African Americans, reaching 98% of them every month.
  • Black consumers are the No. 1 ethnic group in watching live TV, playing game consoles, smartphone media consumption, and streaming audio.
    • The Top 20 advertisers’ spend on media focused on African Americans has increased from $3.34 billion in 2011 to $3.86 billion in 2019—almost a 16% increase.
  • This time of racial reckoning has placed great responsibility on Hollywood and other media publishers to be more inclusive in the stories and characters they tell.
    • With streaming offerings, Black audiences now have a lot more choice in programs that depict their real-life experiences,
    • Black households have steadily increased subscriptions to streaming services— from 65% in 2019 to 70% in 2020.
    • African Americans are more likely to download a video podcast, watch live TV, or keep up with news through a streaming service, compared to the total population.
  • For the first time, Nielsen this year created an Inclusion Opportunity index, which we use to study the most popular programs on broadcast, cable and SVOD to determine how representative they are of different demographics.
    • One study comparing inclusion of Black men and Black women found that Reality, News/Weather and Drama are representative of Black men, compared to their representation in the U.S. population.
    • But Black women are far from parity across the board, coming close to it in one genre: Drama.
    • 56% of the top broadcast shows we analyzed have a Black female cast member.
  • In the past decade, there’s been considerable growth in African Americans’ population, buying power, education and income.
    • There are 48.2 million African Americans in the U.S.
    • From 2020 to 2060, Black Americans will contribute to more than 20% of the total U.S. population growth.
    • African Americans are significantly younger with a median age of all 32—six years younger than the national average and 11 years younger than non-Hispanic whites.
  • With smaller households and younger children, Black grandparents are filling the role of caregivers.
    • African American households are smaller than the national average at 2.48 vs. the national average of 2.52.
    • 29% of these households are more likely to have children under 18 compared to 27% of all U.S. households.
    • 5% of African American grandparents live with their grandchildren, and 40% of those grandparents are the main caregivers for their grandchildren.

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