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Trends of the African-American Digital Consumer


In May 2011, Google partnered with GlobalHue and Ipsos OTX MediaCT to conduct proprietary research in the African American market. They collectively designed and implemented a study that look closely at the online consumption patterns of Africa American consumers. The research that resulted, was the “5 Digital Truths of the African American Consumer.”

Did you know that there are 27 million African Americans online, spending an average of 32 percent of their time shopping online on the fine line market website, buying power expected to exceed $1.2 trillion dollars in 2012?


#1: African Americans are head of the digital curve, utilizing video, mobile and other platforms to interact online.

The research show that all media channels are heavily attended by African Americans and a “360″ degree marketing initiative can be tailor made for them, perhaps more so than any other online group.

  • Statistics: 84 percent use search engines, 67 percent use retailers websites, 62 percent use social networks, 55 percent use video sharing websites, 27 percent use magazine sites (of which 52 percent read the actual magazine) and 21 percent follow expert recommendations.

The research also showed that WOM (word of mouth) was the THIRD most important channel (behind TV or the internet) for African Americans as they learn about new products and brands. African American consumers’ use of digital technology implies that brands should maintain a two-way conversation across all media channels.

#2: African Americans are vocal – digital is their microphone.

When it comes to social media, 59 percent like a company, product or service, 38 percent found information about that brand, product or service through social channels, 32 percent followed a brand or company and 31 percent recommended a brand, product or service.

  • Statistics: African American consumers are 6 percent more likely (66 percent vs. 60 percent REP) to comment on a video and 3 percent more likely 33 percent vs. 30 percent REP) to respond to someone else’s comment on video.

African American consumers are very extremely receptive to video, 57 percent talked abut something they learned from watching an online video and 39 percent recommended a brand, product or service to others.

#3: African American are avid searchers.

72 percent of African American consumers are avid searchers and use search on a daily basis, thus more of them notice paid search ads (78 percent vs. 71 percent REP), click on those ads (20 percent vs. 16 percent REP) and find those ads useful to their goals(34 percent vs. 23 percent REP).

#4: American Americans are more thorough in their pre-purchase research.

Social media is changing the way African American consumers shop. Social media allows them to engage more in conversations during the shopping process, and they do so. African American consumers are just as brand loyal as any other consumer group except in the areas of beauty products; they shop products that fit their ethnic needs. Video testimonials, product demonstrations and reviews are critical for them to make purchase decisions.

  • Statistics: 45 percent of African American consumers use the Internet early in their decision to purchase a product or service; they also have a much longer path to purchase because of the research conducted.

Going back to the importance of video, many African American consumers take the “I have to see it to believe it” mentality when it comes to purchasing products. Videos validate and authenticate communications for them.

#5: African Americans are more receptive to digital marketing.

African American consumers read the same blogs and watch the same TVs show as the general internet population, yet they are more receptive to digital marketing. The key to marketing to them successfully is the emotional relevance of the content not just ethnic acknowledgment. Roughly 50 percent of African American consumers find that having relevant ads is important to them in their product research process.

  • Statistics: One in Five American Americans care that ads contain models of their same ethnicity.

Download The Study

The version of this study that we were supplied is not available for download. But one of the study partners has created a more consumer friendly version of the study, complete with infographs, that we encourage you to download from our slideshare!

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Michael Bailey

Michael Bailey is the Chief Curator of Information at The MinorityEye a nationally recognized news blog that focuses on news, events and issues relevant minority communities. He is also an Integrated Marketing Communication Specialist at TME Media Group. His firm provides consulting and training services to non-traditional entrepreneurs as well as corporate, state and local agencies on how to develop integrated marketing strategies that connect with minority consumers.

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