A Unique Consumer Market

Traditionally, marketers see black people as a monolithic group. Few studies examine black diversity in terms of age or social status; fewer still acknowledge our cultural diversity. After all, we are Caribbean, Afro Latino, and African, as well as African American. These distinctions may require companies to use a more focused marketing lens when targeting black consumers.

Fine-tuned marketing may more effectively resonate with Africans in the U.S., for example, whose numbers are steadily growing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1.4 million African immigrants resided in the U.S. in 2007, up from 1.1 million in 2000. The economic implications of such growth are significant in areas of educational attainment, employment, median household income, and homeownership compared with the statistics of the total population.

In 2007, 17.7 % of Africans had attained a graduate or professional degree, compared with 10.1% of the total population and 5.8% of the African American population; 75.3% of Africans were employed, compared with 64.8% of the total population and 62.8% of the African American population. The median household income for the total population was $50,740; for Africans, it was $47,190; and for African Americans, $34,001. The national homeownership rate was 67.2%; for Africans, it was 42.1 %; and for African Americans, 46.5%.

“This [African] market segment is quite sophisticated and highly educated with good disposable income,” says Bruce Corrie, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business and Organizational Leadership at Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He adds, however, “African immigrants are largely invisible in our public discourse.”

That’s why Corrie collaborated with David Morse, president and CEO of New American Dimensions, a multicultural marketing, consulting, and research company in Los Angeles, to study the lifestyle and consumer behavior of African immigrants. Commissioned by Martin Mohammed, founder and president of the U.S. African Chamber of Commerce, and funded by The Minneapolis Foundation, one of the nation’s most respected charitable institutions, The U.S. African Consumer Segment was released in April. Researchers used six focus groups and followed up with surveys of 393 participants aged 18—60 in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis; and Los Angeles.