Nielsen has just released its annual “African-American Consumer Report,” and says it has detected a surprising upswing in affluence and college enrollment, as well as big changes in media consumption and digital behavior.
The company says that at every income level above $60,000, black income growth outpaced white from 2005 through 2013, with the percentage of black households earning $200,000 or more climbing 138%. (That’s much higher than the 74% gain in the total population.) And it found a $793 gain in median household income among African-American households, compared with $433 for white families.
Even more unexpected, says Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, Nielsen’s SVP for U.S. strategic community alliances and consumer engagement, is a dramatic rise in college students. “The percentage rate of blacks enrolled in college is higher than either Hispanics or whites, which just stunned me,” she tells Marketing Daily.
Another big change is the impact of immigrants, which she says represents an untold story of diversity and a trend that is boosting income statistics. Foreign-born blacks (the majority from Jamaica and Haiti, but increasingly, from African nations) typically have household incomes some 30% higher than those born in the U.S.
She says the survey also found major shifts in the way African-Americans consume media content, with African-American adults spending more than 42% more time watching TV than the total population, and 15% more time on smartphones. In part, she says that is due to the increase in programming with greater appeal, including such hits as “Empire,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder,” as well as conversations about race in social media. “Socially compelling hashtags, such as #BlackLivesMatter, became the norm.”
And in addition to greater radio consumption, they are also much more avid users of digital music, streaming audio on their smartphones at a 42% higher rate than the general population. Those with household incomes of between $75,000 and $100,000 are especially tuned in, and 51% more likely to listen to online local radio station, as well as 24% more likely to listen to a streaming services like Pandora or Spotify.