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Black Buying Power Expected to Reach $1.1 Trillion by 2015



by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Black people have lots of money and we are determined to spend it.  According to the  State of the African-American Consumer Report, African American buying power is expected to rise to $1.1 trillion by 2015.   This makes the black community a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the power of earning and consumption.  The study was designed to analyze the buying and spending habits of the black community, likely so major corporations can figure out how we think and what we want to buy.  The goal at the end of the day, is for corporations to find out how to get your money out of your pocket.

“By sharing, for example, that African Americans over-index in several key areas, including television viewing and mobile phone usage,” Susan Whiting, vice chair of information and analytics company Nielsen, told BlackVoices.com. “We’ve provided a better picture of where the African American community can leverage that buying power to help their communities.”

The results of the study were released at the 41st Annual Legislative Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference.

“Too often, companies don’t realize the inherent differences of our community, are not aware of the market size impact and have not optimized efforts to develop messages beyond those that coincide with Black History Month,” said NNPA chairman, Cloves Campbell. “It is our hope that by collaborating with Nielsen, we’ll be able to tell the African American consumer story in a manner in which businesses will understand, and, that this understanding will propel those in the C-Suite to develop stronger, more inclusive strategies that optimize their market growth in Black communities, which would be a win-win for all of us.”

The study concluded that if African-Americans were a country, we’d be 16th in the world in spending power.   It also found that African Americans use our cell phones twice as much as whites.  As a person who’s taught Finance at the college level for nearly twenty years, here’s what the study’s results say to me:

1) African Americans should be sure to harness our vast economic power by targeting our spending to black-owned businesses.  This will help with the black unemployment problem by providing much-needed capital to black companies who can’t get financing from traditional sources.  White  people have proven that they don’t like to hire us.   A recent experiment by a blogger (Yolanda Spivey) showed that when she changed her profile to appear to be a white woman, the number of job offers she received skyrocketed. This is the struggle we’re dealing with, as Washington politicians love to assume that black people just don’t want to work.

2) We should all save and invest our money and not be duped into  the “feel-good” domain of mass consumption.  Consumption is like alcohol or a drug:  It intoxicates you into an addiction to short-term gratification that leads you to long-term economic slavery.  We can’t always focus on doing what feels good; we must instead focus on actions that provide a long-term benefit.


3) We should remember that our financial independence is critical for our spiritual and social independence.   You can never demand your civil rights while simultaneously begging the descendants of your historical oppressors to help you feed your children.  Malcolm X told us this long ago, and it’s one of the reasons that black America is so blatantly disrespected as a viable political constituency.

In a capitalist society, MONEY-IS-POWER.  More importantly, it is the intelligent application of money that becomes critical to the survival and prosperity of our community.   If you aren’t smart enough to control the power of money, then the power of money will ultimately control you.  Don’t work hard to become a high-paid slave, for you deserve a better fate than that.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Black American Money.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


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