How Valuing Black Consumers Pays Off

A study says that African Americans have distinct brand loyalty that may be a boon for black ad agencies.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The company conducted its first study of black consumer decision making this past April, says Gary Reisman, NMM’s co-founder and principal. The patent-pending methodology that NMM used was direct: The company recruited 3,500 black men and women nationwide between the ages of 13 and 54 to offer their opinions about more than 350 brands in 40-plus categories of goods and services, as well as about more than 300 media properties. Participants graded their emotional attachment to the brands and properties on a scale from 0 to 10.

Reisman says that in order for companies to increase revenues, it is critical for marketers to understand why — and to aggregate data on how — blacks buy certain goods and services. “The greater attachment that someone has to a brand or media property, the more willing they are to listen to your message,” he told The Root. “[The data] tells marketers that African Americans are more attached to certain brands and less price-sensitive to similar products when shopping [for] or utilizing products and services.”

Detavio Samuels, executive vice president of client services at Global Hue, the nation’s largest black-owned ad agency, appreciates that approach. He says that those in the multicultural ad space have always known that blacks are brand-loyal.

The problem from the black-agency perspective was and is that too often, brand companies hire general-market advertisers and marketers instead of those that focus on the black consumer. By providing empirical evidence of the scope of black brand loyalty, what NMM has done is strip away the idea that black marketers bid for business based solely upon personal or cultural familiarity with what blacks eat, drink, watch, wear or drive.

The truth is, both black and mainstream marketers base their strategies for reaching consumers on research results. The NMM figures quantify the connection between the goods and services that black consumers want, are loyal to and will buy, Samuels adds.

He hopes that the new data will also fortify black consumers’ importance to corporations’ bottom lines. Such knowledge, he says, may even inspire those companies to partner with black ad companies, newspapers, radio and television stations and cable networks. Although he isn’t holding his breath awaiting that prospect, the potential collaboration could be a boon for everyone involved.

Frank McCoy is a frequent contributor to The Root.