Are Marketers Succeeding in Targeting African-American Consumers With Social Media?

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November 14, 2012 ‐ By Kimberly Maul

Performers during the Honda Battle of the Bands. Image via Facebook

Black consumers are an attractive target audience for marketers — or they should be. In 2012, Nielsen cited The Selig Center for Economic Growth,  which reported that US black consumers will have $1.1 trillion in annual buying power by 2015 [PDF].

“Marketers have responded to the growing diversification of the U.S. population by increasing their spending to reach multicultural consumers,” said Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), in a statement. “These consumers are younger, more acculturated, and more tech-savvy, making the use of newer media platforms more important than ever.” The ANA released its 2012 Multicultural Marketing and New Media Survey Results in October.

Despite all of this, only 54 percent of US marketers are using new media tools — social media, video and mobile, among others — to target black consumers, according to the ANA’s survey. Nearly all marketers, 88 percent, said they were targeting Hispanic customers.

“Statistics show that the Hispanic population in the United States is rapidly increasing and by 2050 they will most likely not be considered a minority,” explained Verna Coleman-Hagler, a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, in an email exchange with Madame Noire. “Considering this trend I think that brands are identifying the need to target this emerging market to build brand loyalty sooner rather than later.”

“Brands are not taking full advantage of social media to reach black consumers,” Keisha Brown, senior vice president and managing director of multicultural agency Lagrant Communications, told Madame Noire. “If you’re going to venture into social media to target the consumer, you have to do it the right way, with authenticity and consistency.”

So are marketers succeeding in their outreach to the African-American community? Let’s look at a couple examples.

Procter & Gamble’s My Black is Beautiful
Procter & Gamble was one of the first major advertisers to leverage social media to create a sustainable program to connect with its black customers, when My Black is Beautiful launched on Facebook in 2009. Launched as a company-wide, on and offline program celebrating the beauty of black women in 2007, MBIB has a multi-city tour and a TV show, and uses social media to discuss topics such as breast cancer awareness month, beauty tips for black women, coupons and deals, and everyday inspiration.

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