African-Americans Growing in Affluence

  • by November 14, 2001
Since 1996 African-Americans in 85 metropolitan markets have made impressive economic gains while remaining the most loyal radio audience in the U.S., according to data released by The Media Audit today.

According to the report, the number of African-American households with annual incomes exceeding $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 increased dramatically. Impressive gains were also made in the numbers of those with liquid assets of $100,000 or $250,000.

Although some of their media habits are changing their loyalty to the Urban radio music format remains the strongest in the nation. More than 53% of African-Americans rated Urban as their "most listened" to radio format, the Media Audit found.

"These numbers reflect an incredible level of loyalty to Urban radio," says Bob Jordan, co-chairman of the 30-year-old research firm that produces The Media Audit. "The numbers should cause a re-examination of strategies by those who believe that the African-American community can be covered effectively by advertising in mainstream media. In this community, Urban is mainstream," says Jordan.

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The number of African-American households with incomes of $50,000 or more increased from 24.5 to 32.9%, an increase of more than 33%. Household incomes of $75,000 or more increased from 8.9 to 15%, a gain of almost 70%. Household incomes of $100,000 or more increased from 3.2 to 6.5%, an increase of more than 103%.

"There are also some very significant changes in the all important lifestyle categories," says Jordan. "Empty nesters, age 45+ with incomes of $35,000 or more increased from 8.9 to 10.9%, a gain of 22%. Affluent households, $50,000+, with children at home increased from 13.5 to 17.3%, an increase of 28%. The lifestyles data is critical to advertisers," continues Jordan, "it has an enormous impact on the buying habits of the household. The buying habits of empty nesters are significantly different than the buying habits of full nesters. The importance of lifestyle data shouldn't be ignored."

In another lifestyle category, graying affluents, age 50+ with incomes of $50,000 the numbers increased from 4.2 to 7.3%, an increase of 74%. Affluent working women with household incomes of $50,000 or more increased from 10.5 to 13.2% for an increase of 26%. Affluent blue-collar workers with household incomes of $50,000 or more increased from 5.3 to 7.2%, an increase of 36%.

"The overall numbers are encouraging," says Jordan. "They reflect broad, overall improvement in the financial condition of the African-American community."

The more affluent a group becomes the more they drive and as a result their exposure to outdoor increases. During the past five years exposure to outdoor by the African-American community increased from 28 to 36%, an increase of 27%. Their traditionally heavy exposure to direct mail advertising experienced a rather significant drop from 35.6 to 29.8%, a decrease of 16%. Newspaper readership showed a very slight decline of less than 1%, from 52.7% to 52.3%.

The number of African-Americans with IRA/Keogh accounts increased from 17.7% to 26.1%; CDs/Savings Certificates, 16.4 to 21.2; liquid assets, $100K+, 8.9 to 12.8; liquid assets of $250K+ from 2.0 to 3.5. Those trading stocks and bonds during the past year increased, during the five-year period examined, from 11.2% to 14.1%.

"The media habits of African Americans are, in some ways, changing in the same ways the media habits of the general population are changing. But, the differences are significant enough -- radio habits in particular -- to require advertisers and marketers to view this group as a distinctive community," says Jordan. Numerous studies have concluded that the African-American community in the U.S. earns approximately $500 billion each year.

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