What Are Black Americans Buying Online, And How Can You Reach Them?

December 4, 2020

Nielsen What Black Adults Buy Online Nov2020Since 2010, the buying power of African Americans has grown faster than that of the total US population, per a new report [download page] from Nielsen. The report revealed that the buying power of African Americans grew by 48% between 2010 and 2019 to reach $1.4 trillion, and is expected to continue growing over the next few years.

The increasing buying power of African Americans presents an opportunity for marketers and retailers, especially those involved in e-commerce. Nielsen indicates that close to half (48%) of African American households shopped online this year — that’s a figure 11% higher than the average US household.

While online shopping has generally increased this year due to COVID-19, Black adults have shown an affinity for e-commerce, per the report. In fact, they over-indexed across many categories for online shopping in the 6 months prior to one survey cited in the report. Notably, African American households were 45% more likely than average to have shopped online for groceries, 46% more likely to have purchased appliances online and 38% more likely to have bought drugs/remedies online. The categories they shopped online for the most during those 6 months included clothing (49%), health/beauty (47%) and groceries (41%).

Nielsen reports that African Americans have increased the use of their buying power to support brands that support social causes. The study indicates found that African Americans are 58% more likely to expect brands they buy to take a social stance, up from 4% more likely last year. They also are now 37% more likely to buy from a brand that does take a stand (up from 1% in 2019).

With the racial justice movement top-of-mind for many Americans this year, earlier research from Ipsos found that there is increased attention being paid to brands whose messaging is not only empathetic to those who suffer discrimination but also take action against racism and improve the diversity within their own companies.

Time Spent with Media Is Higher Than Average

Online shopping is not the only area where African Americans over-index; they’re also spending a lot of time on devices and with media. Not only are they spending an average of 35 hours on their smartphones per week, but they’re also spending an above-average amount of time per week watching TV (50:39), using CTV devices (13:21), listening to the radio (13:23) and using game consoles (11:57).

This audience is also spending 10% more time than average with streaming audio, including podcasts. Some of the preferred podcast genres cited include comedy (45%), music (38%), news (35%), education (33%) and business (33%).

To find out more, the full report can be found here.

About the Data: Findings are based on Scarborough Retail Internet Lifestyles 2020 data.

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