Black spending power topped $1.2 trillion dollars in 2016, according to African-Americans: Demographic and Consumer Spending Trends, 10th Edition. The ability to leverage these dollars is widely accepted as a key to building black wealth. However, when it comes to improving the economic health of black communities, does buying black really matter? At least one black family says it absolutely does, but it’s easier said than done.
Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy by Maggie Anderson with Ted Gregory, is the story of what happens when Maggie and husband John Anderson, parents of two young daughters, pledge to spend only with black-owned businesses for a year, in order to create jobs and spur entrepreneurship. The commitment to conscious and conscientious black spending, which took place in 2009, was eventually dubbed The Empowerment Experiment. You can learn more about it at EEforTomorrow.com.
If you want to follow the Anderson’s example and buy black when shopping, consider these tips:
Begin with the “low hanging fruit.”
Start by altering your spending habits on what’s most convenient. For example, support black designers at department stores and open an account at a black-owned bank. Be sure to consider both services, as well as products. For example, you can prepay for treatments at your sister’s favorite black-owned hair salon and present it as a gift.
Leverage your online retailing options.
Take advantage of the increasing dominance of online shopping, especially if there are few black-owned brick-and-mortar options in your area. Many products by black-owned companies, such as The Cut Buddy (a grooming tool invented by Joshua Esnard, and recently featured on Shark Tank) can be purchased via Amazon and other mainstream retail sites. There are also websites such as izania.com that specialize in offering a wide range of goods and services being provided by black entrepreneurs.
Check for help in your app store.
There a number of new apps you can download, such as Official Black Wall Street, designed to help consumers identify and find black-owned businesses. These apps offer features such as geo-location, alerting you to nearby black-owned businesses, as well as directories of such companies, in addition to push notifications of special deals.
As the Anderson family quickly discovered during their “black year,” not every product created for black consumers is sold by a black-owned company, and many black-owned businesses offer products and services that are not just for black people. To leverage black spending power, you must be an informed consumer, willing to take the time and effort to research the marketplace and plan your spending accordingly.