BET: African-American Influence Surging

The African-American population in the U.S. is expanding both in pure numbers and in buying power and has a major influence on technological and media trends, according to a new, comprehensive study by BET Networks.

According to African-Americans Revealed — a study of more than 80,000 African-American consumers over an 18-month span, broken down into several individual research reports — African-Americans in 2008 accounted for a 10% increase in population from 2000, while African-American buying power increased more than 55% during the same period to $913 billion.

By the year 2013, black buying power will reach $1.2 trillion dollars, a whopping 35% increase versus 2008, according to BET, which released the survey results on Jan. 26.

The African-Americans Revealed report on multimedia engagement and digital applications shows that African-Americans are very tech-savvy, with roughly 31% of the group’s discretionary spending dollars, or $39 billion, going toward the purchase of computers, cell phones and electronics — a proportionally higher percentage when compared to non-African-Americans, according to the survey.  

African-Americans also spend more weekly time online (18 hours) than watching television (15 hours). Further, 93% of that population accesses the Internet via PC, while 76% go online via cellphone. Approximately 60% of African-Americans have downloaded music, a TV show, movie or ringtone in the previous month, while 50% regularly update and access a social-networking account.

African-Americans Revealed shows us that the black community should never be referred to as one homogeneous population,” said Matthew Barnhill, senior vice president of corporate research at Viacom-owned BET Networks. “We hope this report will help organizations better connect with an audience and intimately recognize all of its complexities.”

Other report findings include a segmentation study which found that African-Americans are not a monolithic group, but rather break down into seven distinct subsets:

  • “Strivers” are mostly in their late 20s to early 40s and are adventurous, fashionable social mavens and opinion leaders who have their eyes on climbing the executive ladder;
  • “Conscious Sisters” are selfless women that are spiritually connected and highly conscious of their culture;
  • “Tech-Fluentials” are digitally savvy and travel in globally conscious circles;
  • “Bright Horizons” are young adults in high school and college that are aware of all available technology and electronic gadgets;
  • “Inner Circle Elites” are working women rich in their cultural, ancestral and spiritual roots;
  • “Urban Dreamers” are young, urban adults who are social magnets and trend setters intent on and focused on living life to the fullest;
  • “Survivors” are a group of risk-taking teen and young adult males who are hustling to keep their existence in check.

A 2010 Census study within African Americans Revealed predicts that the upcoming U.S. Census count will find that 42 million African-Americans reside in the U.S., a 13.4% increase from the 2000 Census — a higher growth rate than the projected 9.8% increase for the total U.S. population.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.