Washington, D.C., September 21, 2017 – African-American women’s consumer preferences and brand affinities are resonating across the U.S. mainstream, driving total Black spending power toward a record $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to African-American Women: Our Science, Her Magic, a Nielsen report released today. Self-made and self-reliant, the number of businesses majority-owned by Black women grew 67% between 2007 and 2012, more than all women combined. The latest U.S. Census figures show African-American women have majority ownership in more than 1.5 million businesses with over $42 billion in sales.
In Nielsen’s new Diverse Intelligence Series report, the global performance management company paints a portrait of Black women as trendsetters, brand loyalists and early adopters who care about projecting a positive self-image. They are playing an increasingly vital role in how all women see themselves and influencing mainstream culture across a number of areas, including fashion, beauty, television and music. Young, independent and 24.3 million strong, Black women comprise 14% of all U.S. women and 52% of all African-Americans. Relatively young with an average age of 35.1 years (versus 42.8 for non-Hispanic White women and 39.4 for all women), they have enjoyed steady growth in population, incomes, and educational attainment. Sixty-four percent enroll in college right out of high school and 23% over age 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher (up from 18% in 2005).
“Black women have strong life-affirming values that spill over into everything they do. The celebration of their power and beauty is reflected in what they buy, watch, and listen to, and people outside their communities find it inspiring,” says Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, Nielsen. “Understanding how Black women’s values affect their buying decisions has long been a marketing necessity. Now, marketers must also recognize the intercultural influence of Black women on the general market as an increasingly vital part of how all women see themselves, their families, and the rest of the world.”
Independent and self-made
The African-American woman’s independent mindset is present in her growing confidence, self-awareness, and rising income. Black women are not only redefining what it means to be a woman for themselves, but are at the vanguard of changing gender roles and unlimited possibilities for American women of all ages and races.
- 64% of Black women agree their goal is to make it to the top of their profession (95% higher than non-Hispanic White women).
- 58% agree that they don’t mind giving up their personal time for work (20% higher than non-Hispanic White women).
- 14% of Black women have annual incomes of $50,000 or higher (up from 9% in 2005).
- Ages 35–49 have the highest income within the black female cohort.
- For Black millennial women (18–34), 81% have never been married, up from 71% in 2005.
- With an average household size of 2.47, 29% of total Black American households contain a married couple.
Social media and technology
Black women have embraced the social media movement #BlackGirlMagic, a term that describes a cross-platform gathering of empowered Black women who uplift each other and shine a light on the impressive accomplishments of Black women throughout the country. Especially adept at using technology and social media to trade opinions and offer recommendations, Black women (18+), more than any other demographic group, have taken social media and adopted it for higher purposes. Whether they are buying cars, jewelry, smartphones, or beauty products, the advice, referrals, and feedback they receive from friends and community play an important role in Black women’s purchases.
- 43% of Black women say they like to share their opinions about products and services by posting reviews and ratings online.
- 47% agree that people often come to them for advice before making a purchase.
- Black Women over-index by 29% for spending 3–4 hours each day on social networking sites and by 86% for spending 5 or more hours each day on social networking sites.
Trendsetting consumerism and consumption
Projecting a positive image is a sign of Black women’s aspirations and growing empowerment. Part of what makes them trendsetters is their desire for change.
- 62% of Black women agree that they enjoy wandering a store looking for new, interesting products (10% higher than non-Hispanic White women).
- 68% agree they seek out variety in their everyday life (27% higher than non-Hispanic White women).
Projecting a positive self-image
Projecting a positive image is a sign of Black women’s aspirations and growing empowerment. And a big part of that is being healthy, inside and out.
- 82% of Black women agree it is important to be well-groomed.
- 74% of Black women agree that they eat right.
- 68% of Black women agree they are content with their appearance.
Shaking things up, naturally
Going natural, or forgoing chemical treatments to straighten their hair, is another way Black women may choose to safeguard their health and environment, while embracing their curly hair as it grows naturally.
- 60% of Black women agree they buy natural products because they are concerned about the environment.
- 63% buy natural, citing concerns about their health and that of their family.
- 46% of Black women agree they often use natural or organic beauty products.
- 68% of Black women agree they are content with their self-image.
Black women (18+) spend more time watching live TV, listening to the radio, and using multimedia devices than total U.S. women. Empire on FOX was the most watched show during the 2016–2017 broadcast season among Black women 18+, followed by The New Edition Story (BET), Star (FOX), The Have and the Have Nots (OWN) and Love and Hip Hop Atlanta (VH-1)—rounding out the top 5 shows.
Black women have joined the global movement toward ecological sustainability, and see saving the planet through the lens of guaranteeing clean air, water, and most importantly safety for their own families and communities.
- 74% of Black women agree global warming is a serious threat (7% higher than non-Hispanic White women).
- 55% agree a company’s environmental record is important in their purchasing decisions (13% higher than non-Hispanic White women).
- 59% of Black women agree they are willing to pay more for a product that is environmentally safe.
For more insights, download the 2017 report African-American Female Consumers: Our Science, Her Magic. Media Alert: Nielsen’s Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President, U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, is available for media interviews.
About Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series
In 2011, Nielsen launched the Diverse Intelligence Series, a robust portfolio of comprehensive reports that focus solely on diverse consumers’ unique consumption and purchasing habits. The series has become an industry resource to help brands better understand and reach ethnic customers.
Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information visit www.nielsen.com.
NielsenIQ Media Relations