Black Women


Black Women

Do U.S. companies adequately address the concerns and market needs of Black Americans? This sensitive issue has been getting more media coverage in recent years . And, while there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Black actors and models represented in ad campaigns , this minority and emerging majority, which includes a broad range of dark- skinned ethnicities, may still feel underserved.

THE BUYING FILTERS OF BLACK WOMEN

Like all women, Black women rightfully expect to feel respected as consumers and to be invited to partake of your brand. In general, if you respect their community and church involvement, and reflect those values that they hold dear, the women of this segment will be more inclined to focus their buying on the products and services you present to them.

According to recent reporting by Newsweek , 35 percent of Black women go to college as compared to 25 percent of Black men. [24] Furthermore, "College educated Black women already earn more than the median for all Black working menor, for that matter, for all women." [25] This seems to set the stage for much of their consuming behaviorBlack women are educated, they make the money and they manage the household.

Household management and family purchasing decisions, from groceries to automobiles, are more often made by Black women, as opposed to Black men, than is the case for the general marketplace . In 2002, the Fannie Mae Foundation found that more than twothirds of African American women (68 percent)compared to 55 percent of women overallsaid that they were the only one who handled the household financial planning and budgeting. Furthermore, African American women tend to have more financial responsibilities because they are less likely than women overall to be married.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 47 percent of Black women in the thirty- to thirty-four-year-old age range have never married, compared with 10 percent of white women. Yet, these single Black women are adopting children in record numbers . The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 32 percent of children who were permanently adopted through public adoptions in 2001 were adopted by single women, with over half (55 percent) of them Black women. [26]

Overall, there is great diversity of experience and expectation among Black women, depending on country of originwhether African or Caribbeanand life experiences. Some experienced the changes of the Civil Rights era, while others did not live through that powerful time of transition. The level of a Black woman 's sense of entitlement, which could greatly affect how she goes about making consumer purchases, might well depend on whether her experiences include years living under segregation or in a socially diverse environment.

Finally, of the three groups of women we've profiled in this chapter, Black women may be the most conscious of style. In fact, 34 percent of Black consumers say they like to keep up with fashions and trends, as compared to 28 percent of Asians, 27 percent of Hispanics and 25 percent of whites. [27]

REFLECTING BLACK WOMEN IN YOUR BRAND

Keeping the tone of a marketing message respectful and positive is a good place to start with any group of women, of course, but it's especially true in the case of Black women. As with the other emerging majorities we've covered, marketers should do their subsegmenting homework to reflect the key lifestyle factors of their customers in their promotions and messages.

A few more guidelines for developing messages that reflect an understanding of women within the Black population include:

Demonstrate your commitment to their communities. Sponsoring a neighborhood event is an effective grassroots method for connecting with Black women. Use local media channels (billboard ads, for example) as a powerful way to forge connections with these women. Furthermore, Black women often consider the churches they attend their true community centers.

As reported by DiversityInc magazine in late 2001, "Church, for many African Americans, is far more than a place of worship. The church may double as a health center, school, bookshop, counseling center, job-placement center, early childhood development center and more." [28] Though some marketers may try hawking all sorts of goods at African American churches, business should never interfere with their spiritual and religious purposes.

Value their lifestyles and cultural diversity. While older Black women may have lower expectations for inclusiveness in ad campaigns, their daughters or granddaughters are more likely to expect marketing messages that reflect their experiences with racial and cultural diversity. They also expect to be included or represented in ad campaigns as the businesswomen , students, athletes and mothers that they are.

Tap into their popular cultural interests. The music and fashions of Black teens have been hugely influential in the early twenty-first century, and Black female musicians , in particular, are much more visible (and successful) than in years past. Using these cues and tapping into Black popular culture within your marketing messages will reflect your brand's to-the-minute knowledge of their interests.

Reflect their use of media channels. The community focus of a Black woman's life is visible in the pages, on the sites or in the broadcasts of the variety of culture-specific media channels she uses. Interestingly, however, their culturally specific newspapers seem to be losing the battle for attention with this emerging majority, just as newspapers are losing ground with the general public. The media channels most often used by Blacks now include mainstream media in addition to Black-oriented magazines, radio stations , television programs and Web sites. [29]

[24] Ellis Close, "The Black Gender Gap," Newsweek , March 3, 2003.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Avis Thomas-Lester, "More Black Women Adopt A New Path To Families," The Washington Post , February 10, 2003.

[27] Simmons Market Research, 2002, New York, http://www.smrb.com. Reported in Rebecca Gardyn and John Fetto, "Race, Ethnicity and the Way We Shop," American Demographics , February 2003.

[28] Yoji Cole, "To Reach the African-American ConsumerGo To Church," DiversityInc (New Brunswick, NJ), December 17, 2001, http://www.diversityinc.com.

[29] Kathy Bergen, "Black Papers Fight For Life," The Chicago Tribune , August 4, 2002.