African Americans currently make up about 13% of the U.S. population, and the growth rate outpaces that of the total population by almost 30%i. But what’s really interesting about this group is that nearly half are under 30 years old – representing a high proportion of younger consumers.
This leads to an important question for marketers looking to target this audience. How do younger African Americans differ from their older counterparts, and how should marketers tailor their messaging by age?
To help marketers answer these questions, Yahoo! partnered with Mindshare and Added Value, using a multi-phased research approach including expert marketer interviews, focus groups, and quantitative surveys. Some important differences emerged when we analyzed African Americans by the following age groups:
YOUNG, BIG SPENDERS PROJECTED
- The spending power of African Americans will increase 25% by 2015, increasing from $957 billion to $1.2 trillionii.
- The majority of African Americans are under 30 (47%).
- Boomers are 25% more likely than Gen Y to state that they are proud of their ethnic identity and 29% more likely to state that ads would be much better if they showed diversity.
- Older African Americans are twice as likely to feel underrepresented in general media versus younger African Americans.
DIGITAL CONTENT IS A MEANINGFUL ETHNIC EXPRESSION FOR GEN Y AFRICAN AMERICANS
- Not surprisingly, younger African Americans are significantly more likely to leverage online social, video and content channels to connect and share with others.
- Gen Y is significantly more likely than Boomers and Gen X to express their ethnicity through their digital content choices, especially for content around the categories below:
MARKETING PREFERENCES VARY NOT JUST BY AGE, BUT ALSO BY CATEGORIES
- Health care, skin care, hair care and personal care products are significantly impacted by ethnicity regardless of age.
- Boomers are more likely to expect ethnically targeted marketing when it comes to finance, auto, food and pharma.
- Younger African Americans are critical for marketers to understand and connect with as their share of wallet and disposable income grows in the next decade.
- Tailor your messaging and creative to speak to the specific generation of your target audience. Boomers are particularly sensitive to ethnic stereotypes and acutely aware of diversity in ads.
- Digital content and communication can provide a valuable platform to engage with younger African Americans from a media perspective.
- When targeting African Americans understand what categories actually matter, specifically by age group. Positivity rules – it’s easy to offend, but connecting successfully takes a deeper understanding of what AA are about (eg. Tide Dad).
i The Nielsen Company, 2011
ii Selig Center for Economic Growth