Monday, January 25, 2016 6:31:27 PM

As February rolls in it brings with it Black History Month and marketers pour everything they have into reaching out to African American consumers. That’ only makes up for 28 days though. What about the other 337? Black consumers are significant to our economy all year round, not for just one month out of the year. It is time to recognize the value that ethnic audiences bring to the table and work more diligently to connect with them.

African American Influence in the LA Market

African Americans make up about 10 percent of the Los Angeles population which means they have a significant impact in the area’s economy. Nielson released Resilient, Receptive and Relevant: The African American Consumer in 2013, a report that broke down the viability of the African American audience as relevant consumers as well as the population make up. The report paints a picture of a vibrant culture where women make up 54 percent of the black population and within their households they often make the majority of purchasing decisions. Many of these women are working professionals or business owners while also juggling the role of mother. Black women own roughly 15 percent of all women owned businesses – and that number is steadily climbing.

There has been substantial growth in African American household incomes and the growth is expected to continue as more African Americans are thriving in good jobs. Education attainment has also skyrocketed with a 70 percent increase in the number of blacks graduating from high school in 2014. College enrollment rates were at 70.9 percent, a substantial increase from 59.3 percent in 2013. This is yet another indication that African American consumers will continue to grow and become even more influential to the market in the coming years.

How to Effectively use Black History Month

Use Black History Month as a Launchpad for your African American focused campaigns – not a parking lot for them. Yes, this is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans, but it is also a time to recognize diversity and embrace it in our culture as a whole. Reach out to them all year, not just during Black History month. Recognize minorities as valuable consumers who have a voice in our economy, who should be heard – and spoken to. This is a fiercely loyal population when it comes to brands, so when you get an African American customer you are likely getting one that will be there for life.

This extends far beyond a simple holiday or doing the right thing, it is about tapping into a largely ignored segment of the population and telling them, “Hey, I see you – and I’m listening.”

Connecting with your African American Audience

African American consumers look for and gravitate to campaigns that reflect their culture. Messages that resonate in a way that is culturally authentic are what move them but that message must come across as genuine, sincere. They must be treated as a valued segment of the customer population, not just an afterthought. Currently, a very small percentage of businesses are actively marketing directly to African Americans.

Brands must find ways to tap into this emerging and strengthening consumer base by aligning their services and products with the needs and lifestyles of the African American consumer. By creating campaigns that speak to these consumers’ needs as well as their aspirations, brands can begin drawing in this unique segment across all channels including social media, marketing campaigns, advertising, and community relations. Most of all, it must be ongoing. If you are only targeting African Americans 28 days out of the year, you are missing out on an incredibly powerful consumer base that buys throughout the year.

Advertisers looking to target younger consumers in the L.A. market must be attuned to the needs and consumption habits of multicultural audiences. Learn as much as you can about your African American audience. What do they care about? What do they dream about? What keeps them up at night? Study their spending patterns, interests, media consumption, and values. The more you know, the more opportunities you will see rising up. Make the most of them.

While different audiences consume media through different platforms, in an information-based society, Los Angeles Times Media Group is the connective tissue that connects every corner of the L.A. DMA. African American/Black audiences spend more time and are much more likely than the average consumer to get their news via print newspaper and the internet. There are over 1MM African Americans in the LA DMA of which 1 in 3 read the Los Angeles Times. We can help you get connected!

Categories: Marketing Trends

Tags: marketing tips, trends, black history month

Source: Scarborough Los Angeles 2014 R1 & Los Angeles Custom Recontact Study 2012 Release 2; 2010 Census data/LA Almanac.