Affluence is becoming the new normal in segments of the African American community, according to the latest Nielsen report on Black consumers. The study tells the untold story of a community that is increasing in affluence, digital connectivity, education, and diversity through immigration.
This new report, the fifth in Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series, focuses on African Americans who are making an annual household income of $75,000 a year or more and are often overlooked. In fact, a growing trend highlighted in the data shows that at every income level above $60,000, Black income outpaced that of non-Hispanic Whites.
“Nielsen’s latest study on black Americans is timely for brands and businesses seeking new markets or to deepen and expand relationships with existing customers,”says Andrea Hoffman, founder and CEO of Culture Shift Labs and co-author of the 50 Billion Dollar Boss. “African Americans are an important audience of consumers and influencers. The proof points on the size, scope social, and economic clout are undeniable.”
Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, the Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement for Nielsen, told UrbanGeekz that immigration is playing a big role in the socio-economic status of African Americans.
“Black immigrants who have come to the United States have a 30 percent higher household income than U.S. born African Americans,” McNeil says. “So we factored all that in and that is one of the main reasons why we are seeing income rates increase.”
According to the report, education is extremely important to many African immigrants, which suggests many immigrates are searching for opportunities in America rather than just trying to escape from poverty and oppression.
Another trend from the report shows that the percentage of black high school graduates who enrolled in a college or university rose to 70.9 percent in 2014, exceeding both whites and the total population. This is a significant jump from 2013, when only 59.3 percent of black graduates went to a college or university.
McNeil said that there is a significant youthfulness of the black population.“Nearly 30 percent of the black population is under the age of 18, so that means they are going to be coming through high school much more frequently, and hopefully because of the change in our education system we will see the trend of black graduates enrolling in colleges increase,” she said.
In the digital age, many black Americans have taken to using social media platforms to express their thoughts and feelings. According to the report, compared to all Americans, blacks spend more time watching popular television shows such as Empire and Scandal. Smartphone use is also much higher in the black community, 83 percent, compared to that of the rest of the population at 78 percent.
McNeil said that black viewers like to discuss in real time the shows they enjoy, especially on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
“Social media offers an opportunity to level the playing field and give African Americans the opportunity to showcase what they really like, what they don’t like and so forth,” she said. “So it makes sense that the shows that are very popular to black viewers are put on the social media platform in order to discuss it.”
The study also showed that black Americans are more likely to use Twitter, especially for use of social justice. Hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter which began in 2012 after the shooting of Trayvon Martin and #Ferguson have had millions of mentions on Twitter alone.
McNeil said she believes the fact that #BlackLivesMatter has become an organization shows that the hashtags are producing some type of impactful social change.
“When people aren’t necessarily sure how to get involved, these platforms gives them a voice to share, and companies and government institutions can get a sense of the cultural trends that are engaging conversation across all socio-demographics,” she said.
Donna Byrd, publisher of The Root, has said “the ability of everyday people to capture these acts on video and distribute them on social media… has changed the national conversation and the sense of urgency because there is visual evidence of what’s happening across our country.”
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