While working as a marketing manager at Cox Interactive Media, a Website management firm, 32-year-old John Pembroke would often use the Internet as a resource. However, he was hard-pressed to find any sites that focused specifically on African American families. “Many sites that cater to African Americans are entertainment, networking and socially focused,” says Pembroke, who suspected people wanted something more.
In June 1997, Pembroke approached his employer, which manages several targeted Websites, with a proposal to develop a site that would be a resource for the African American family. Cox commissioned Philadelphia-based market research company M. Davis and Co. Inc. to find out what interested African American Internet users the most. The study, which queried 25- to 44-year-olds, found that personal finance, news and parenting were most important. Pembroke’s hunch substantiated, BlackFamilies.com was launched this past January with Pembroke leading the charge as the site’s brand manager.
Atlanta-based BlackFamilies.com has five main sections: Family Finance, Family Relationships, Parenting, an online shopping area called Browse and Buy and a community chat room, People to People. A casual tour of the site yields informative articles on topics ranging from budgeting and tax planning to current events and politics. There are also stories on financing your child’s college education and advice on improving spouse and sibling relationships.
The online store provides secure online shopping. Everything from computer hardware and software to vacation packages is available, and the store even has a feature that lets visitors search for African American businesses on the Web. That particular feature is an extension of the site’s main search engine, which helps browsers find the best African American Websites by category. Users can also extend the search to include the entire Web, if they choose.
Overall, BlackFamilies.com is a useful and informative site. Though its parent company, Cox Interactive, isn’t black-owned, the site’s staff have put together a very good site that should attract plenty of repeat traffic. If you’ve visited BlackFamilies.com, tell us what you think of the site in the Techwatch section of our Website, blackenterprise.com.