proposition for diversity.”
In its folly, Madison Avenue is overlooking significant dollars in almost every segment of the black market. More than 50% of African Americans are under 35 and currently outpacing the growth of the total U.S. population. By the year 2050, African Americans will make up 14.6% of the total population.
A 2005 study by NiaOnline found that black women were more influenced by the Internet when purchasing items than were white women. The July 2005 Target Market News/ NiaOnline Black Consumer Confidence Survey showed that even in uncertain economic times, the intention to make a major purchase was 26% for blacks and 16% for whites. Even in comparison to the quickly expanding Hispanic market, the 2000 Census shows there are more African American households with yearly incomes greater than $75,000.
“Even when the economy takes a hit, we’re still buying, we’re still spending. If your budget goes down 15%, then it should be 15% across the board, not 25% on the African American piece, leaving the other piece the way it is,” Kemp says, referring to the cuts most often aggressively applied to spending in black media, when companies experience financial difficulty. “Because in certain markets, our customers deliver more.”
Corporate spending in the black consumer market with black agencies in black media should not be viewed as a matter of social consciousness, but as a
fair business exchange — a matter of economic parity. Advertising spending increased by 4.6% in 2005 to $276 billion, according to Insider’s Report from Universal McCann, a division of the global ad agency Interpublic Group. “Yet less than 1% of total ad spending is targeted toward the African American market,” says Kemp. This is despite the fact that African American buying power is growing faster than white consumers and the total buying power of most ethnic groups.
All of this leads Joe Watson, CEO of StrategicHire and author of the forthcoming book Without Excuses: Unleash the Power of Diversity to Build Your Business (St. Martin’s Press; October 2006), to ask this question: “Is bigotry more powerful than greed?
“If you know everything that’s happening in terms of birthrate and you understand that these markets are growing at double-digit rates, far outstripping your traditional base of consumers and workers, why would you not be doing everything you possibly could to pursue those markets and those workers? It’s just logic. If I told you any other market or opportunity in your business was growing at that type of rate, you would be moving heaven and earth to figure out how to capitalize on it, so why isn’t that happening with diversity?”
Watson contends that diversity is the only business imperative where executives are allowed to offer excuses for failure. He believes it’s because race and gender still make people uneasy.
He also offers that with all the education and information surrounding diversity, it has been easier and more comfortable for large companies to create their own in-house multicultural divisions — even if they are devoid of black employees.
But the experts do believe there