Black America has an undeniable buying power, one which will reach a whopping $1.4 trillion by 2019. But even with such an incredible purchasing power, African Americans aren’t spending it with Black-owned companies.
According to a recent report by Nielsen and Essence, only a small part of Black America’s buying power is spent at Black-owned businesses. In fact, “Blacks spend less money in Black-owned businesses than other racial and ethnic groups spend in businesses owned by members of their groups, including Hispanics and Asians,” reported the New York Times.
This buying gap has wide-ranging ramifications. If more Black dollars were spent on Black businesses it would create much-needed jobs in the African-American community. According to a study by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, “between half a million and a million jobs could be created if higher-income black households spent only $1 of every $10 at Black-owned stores and other enterprises,” reported the Times.
Still, every holiday season there is a major movement encouraging Black consumers to support Black-owned companies when gift buying. However, we still don’t overwhelmingly buy “Black.” “Yes, there is a push during the holidays for Blacks to buy from Black-owned businesses but I do not feel like the push is aggressive enough,” said Camille Murray, founder of BlackExpansion.com which promotes Black-owned businesses and communities. “I think Blacks do not buy from Black-owned businesses for a number of reasons.”
Among those reasons, according to Murray, are:
–A general lack of desire to specifically support Black business. You have to have the desire to want to buy Black and invest into the Black community. Not all Black consumers have this desire,” said Murray. It can sometimes be confusing and hard to track down Black-owned business. And often times it’s just not as convenient as shopping in the general market. “Not all Black consumers know where to start, as far as looking for Black businesses, where they are located, whether online or brick and mortar, and what products and services they have to offer,” she explained.
— Murray also isn’t sure all the encouragement to “Buy Black” results in more business for Black-owned companies. “I am unsure if there has been an increase or decrease in Blacks buying Black. However, there has been an increase in the growth of Black businesses overall, well above the national average, and this trend is led by Black female entrepreneurs. The number of businesses owned by African American women grew 322 percent since 1997, making Black females the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S.,” reported Fortune.
Even with this growing number of Black business, the lack of consumer support still persists. Yet there are a number of ways Black businesses can increase revenue, said Murray. “The first way that comes to mind would be creative marketing, which includes taking advantage of the Internet and social media phenomenon,” she explained. “Once you establish relationships with new customers, you have to make sure you are retaining those customers and the best way to retain customers is having quality products and exceptional customer service, the latter is often a common complaint when dealing with Black businesses.”
Supporting Black-owned businesses would not only increase employment in the communities, but also help with wealth building. “If Black consumers support Black-owned businesses it would help create Black economic independence, which in turn would provide more job opportunities for Blacks and minorities; this would give way to social mobility, better education and improved health and wellness,” Murray pointed out.
There are companies making it easier to “Buy Black.” Subscription services, like Dapper Black Box (DBB), founded by Aaron Barnes, features products by various Black-owned companies. “Philosophically, I believe Black consumers should buy Black to recycle our dollars within our own communities and build economic and political power among our own,” Barnes said. “It’s well known that Black-owned businesses hire higher proportions of Black employees and that they are responsible for a great number of Black millionaires and billionaires. Practically, buying Black ensures that the products and experiences that you purchase were offered with you in mind.
“We do the hard work of finding high-quality, Black-owned businesses and curate each month’s DBB with their most exceptional items. This way, consumers can easily learn about and financially support new, cutting-edge Black-owned businesses every month without exhausting themselves,” he explained.
There’s also Harrison Blake Apparel, which is basically a one-stop online shop for men’s accessories. It offers a monthly subscription service. Ujamaa Box, founded by Ebony Costain, features products from Black businesses–from beauty and fashion to food and health. Meanwhile the Curl Kit, launched by Heather Cummings, offers samples of natural hair and beauty products. WeAreOnyx also sends out four to six hair, makeup, and skin products via monthly subscriptions. And for the ultimate guide to Black-owned companies and products in the U.S. and the and diaspora, check out ShoppeBlack.com.
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