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The Undeniable Spending Power of Black Women

A new report detailing the record-setting spending power of African-American women has further buoyed the confidence of Black female entrepreneurs who said the information proves their undeniable value to the U.S. and global economy.

The report, released by Nielsen during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 47th Annual Legislative Conference, revealed that African-American women’s consumer preferences and brand affinities are resonating across the U.S. mainstream, driving total Black spending power toward a record $1.5 trillion by 2021.

The Nielsen report — “African-American Women: Our Science, Her Magic” — noted that young, independent and 24.3 million strong, Black women comprise 14 percent of all U.S. females and 52 percent of all African-Americans.

With an average age of 35.1 years (versus 42.8 for non-Hispanic White women and 39.4 for all women), Black women have enjoyed steady growth in population, incomes and educational attainment.

Sixty-four percent currently enroll in college right out of high school and 23 percent over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, up from 18 percent in 2005.

Further, the report noted, the number of businesses majority-owned by Black women grew 67 percent between 2007 and 2012, more than all women combined.

The latest U.S. Census figures show African-American women have majority ownership in more than 1.5 million businesses with over $42 billion in sales.

“This report is helpful to show banks and brands that black women are highly qualified to be recipients of fair lending and be fairly represented in advertising campaigns,” said Samantha Gregory, founder of the website richsinglemomma.com, which seeks to assist single mothers earn extra cash.

“As a black woman in technology and personal finance who is also a business owner, those statistics are useful when I am making a case for working with brands for my blog and business,” Gregory said. “However, if the powers that be are not educated about these statistics, it is still challenging to get a seat at the table where all the prime contracts are being handed out.”

Briana Santirosa, founder and CEO of online retailer Casa de Reinas, said after working in retail for four years, she made the decision to start her own business.

“African-American women have always spent trillions of dollars in the fashion and beauty industries even though these industries have often chosen to ignore us,” Santirosa said. “I do see the market beginning to recognize Black women more and cater to our spending preferences.”

In Nielsen’s new Diverse Intelligence Series report, the global researcher paints a portrait of Black women as trendsetters, brand loyalists and early adopters who care about projecting a positive self-image.

And as they wield that #BlackGirlMagic, they’re playing an increasingly vital role in how all women see themselves and influencing mainstream culture across a number of areas, including fashion, beauty, television and music, the report’s authors said.

“Black women have strong life-affirming values that spill over into everything they do,” said Cheryl Grace, Nielsen’s senior vice president of U.S. community strategic alliances and consumer engagement. “The celebration of their power and beauty is reflected in what they buy, watch and listen to, and people outside their communities find it inspiring.

“Understanding how Black women’s values affect their buying decisions has long been a marketing necessity,” Grace said. “Now, marketers must also recognize the intercultural influence of Black women on the general market as an increasingly vital part of how all women see themselves, their families and the rest of the world.”

The African-American woman’s independent mindset is present in her growing confidence, self-awareness and rising income, according to the report. Black women are not only redefining what it means to be a woman for themselves, but are at the vanguard of changing gender roles and unlimited possibilities for American women of all ages and races.

The report noted that 64 percent of Black women agree their goal is to make it to the top of their profession — 95 percent higher than non-Hispanic White women; 58 percent agree that they don’t mind giving up their personal time for work — 20 percent higher than non-Hispanic White women.

Further, 14 percent of Black women have annual incomes of $50,000 or higher with ages 35-49 enjoying the highest income among the segment.

For millennial women, 81 percent have never been married, up from 71 percent in 2005 and, with an average household size of 2.47, 29 percent of total Black American households contain a married couple.

Black women also have embraced the social media movement #BlackGirlMagic, a term that describes a cross-platform gathering of empowered Black women who uplift each other and shine a light on the impressive accomplishments of Black women throughout the country.

Especially adept at using technology and social media to trade opinions and offer recommendations, Black women 18 and older, more than any other demographic group, have taken social media and adopted it for higher purposes, the report found.

Whether they are buying cars, jewelry, smartphones or beauty products, the advice, referrals and feedback they receive from friends and community play an important role in Black women’s purchases.

Forty-three percent of Black women say they like to share their opinions about products and services by posting reviews and ratings online and 47 percent agree that people often come to them for advice before making a purchase.

Black women over-index by 29 percent for spending three to four hours each day on social networking sites and by 86 percent for spending five or more hours each day on social networking sites.

Projecting a positive image is a sign of Black women’s aspirations and growing empowerment, report authors said.

Part of what makes them trendsetters is their desire for change with 62 percent agreeing that they enjoy wandering a store looking for new, interesting products — 10 percent higher than non-Hispanic White women.

Further, 68 percent agree they seek out variety in their everyday life, a figure 27 percent higher than non-Hispanic White women.

“The trend of Black women becoming increasingly educated and driving the buying power of Black households mean that they are making purchase decisions that historically they didn’t make,” said Bianca Blake, a marketing specialist. “Couple that with trends of the millennial generation marrying and starting families later, the Black women becomes an independent decision-maker for much more of her journey through life as opposed to say abiding by decisions made by her parents, husband or heavily influenced by her children.”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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