Texting & Tweeting: Black Businesses Turn To Tech To Lure In Consumers

December 28, 2012  |  

Think about it — African Americans spend $850 billion annually on goods and services. Yet many African-American businesses are struggling to get by. One of the reasons is that although blacks have major spending power, they are sending very little with black-owned businesses; just 10 percent. A Census report found black-owned businesses generated just 0.5 percent of all receipts in 2007.

Part of the problem is finding businesses owned by African Americans. In the past there have been local directories such as the Black Book and Black Pages, a Yellow Pages-type of listing of African-American owned companies and shops. But now black-owned business are making use of the black communities love of technology and are using digital media to get the word out.

We reported earlier about an app called Around The Way which locates black-owned businesses in your vicinity. Now, according to Black Voice News, “Black-owned businesses are turning to high tech to boost their bottom line.” One retailer doing this, reports Black Voice News is Cloeta Sterling. She sends out twice daily text alerts about what makes her shop stand out — handmade jewelry and the kind of personal service she says you won’t find at Macy’s. With more African Americans tweeting and using other digital media, it’s increasingly becoming a channel that black businesses use more aggressively to seek out black consumers.

And black spending power is only expected to increase to a whopping $1.1 trillion by 2015, found the special report “African American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing” released by Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Black businesses want a piece of this action.

Back in 2010, Khadija Nassif of BlackEconomicDevelopment.com wrote an open letter to aspiring African American business owners that if black-owned businesses merely rely on African-American consumers it could be “disastrous.”

“I would invite all aspiring Black business owners to look around at the wreckage of most businesses that tried to do business in Black residential areas as visibly Black-owned businesses,”  wrote Nassif. “The primary reason is that African-American consumers don’t want to see visibly Black-owned businesses succeed. The only partial exceptions to this rule were African-American owned hair salons and barbershops.”

Do you think things have changed since Nassif wrote her open letter? Do you try to shop in black-owned businesses?

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