No different than the impact industry had on America’s business model of the early 20th century, new technological innovations have significantly changed all aspects of business, from the way people consume to how brands engage consumers.
“We are on the threshold of a new business paradigm,” said Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President, U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement at Nielsen. “The digital age is transforming not only commerce and the relationship consumers have with companies, but digital know-how among consumers – particularly African Americans – is fostering new levels of independence and financial freedom.”
For African Americans, these milestones of innovation have played integral roles in how Black households have navigated socioeconomic status while keeping pace with an ever-changing American business landscape. Innovation breeds new opportunities, fosters entrepreneurship and spurs educational advancement to meet the demand for professional specialization.
Nielsen’s latest report, “From Consumers to Creators: The Digital Lives of Black Consumers,” makes the case that a legitimate renaissance is taking shape within the African American community. In fact, more than half (54%) of all African Americans have lived their entire life in the digital age. Echoes of digital deserts and tech disparities have given way to unfettered access to WiFi, the “cloud” and 4G LTE. Black consumers have dismantled old paradigms and bridged divides in access, device ownership and usage.
“Undisputedly the vanguards and early adopters of popular American cultural trends, African Americans have fully embraced today’s digitally connected marketplace,” said Andrew McCaskill, SVP Global Communications and Multicultural Marketing at Nielsen. “Black consumers are engaged and plugged in to a digital, multi-platform universe in ways that are redefining the African American experience with an unprecedented sense of community, economic consciousness and digital-native know-how.”
The digital age and its technologies are outpacing 20th century business practices by leaps and bounds. The byproduct? Rapid changes in the economy and society are unearthing opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses – black-owned businesses. The digital boom and access to tech have created a democratization of digital platforms in which African Americans are not just embracing but thriving.
Black consumers are impacting the marketplace and the brands within it. Representation matters to consumers of color, and when companies fail to resonate culturally or authentically appeal to them, Black consumers are decisive in their response. African Americans leverage their digital access to critique, connect and hold brands accountable in full display on social media platforms. With a buying power of $1.3 trillion, Black consumers are effective in supporting brands that align with their preferences and ignoring those that do not.
More importantly, the most enterprising Black consumers are transforming from Consumers to Creators and ultimately becoming the Competition to the brands or industries that have been more exclusive than inclusive.
McCaskill added, “At the nexus of digital interconnection, entrepreneurship and an unyielding desire to control and share their own images and ideas, African Americans are using the media-verse as a springboard for content creators to become decision makers. Black consumers are taking a ‘for us by us’ approach to building new platforms and business models, thereby creating entirely new Black financial ecosystems.”
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