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Al Wellington, pioneering researcher of African American consumers, dies at 63
(January 30, 2012) Al Wellington, long respected for bringing new methodologies to African-American consumer research, died on Tuesday, January 24th of a heart attack in Voorhees, New Jersey. He was 63 years old.
When Al started The Wellington Group in 1979, he knew he would face many challenges as a minority-owned marketing research and consulting company. He knew that the African American community constituted a market segment that was being taken for granted by major consumer product and advertising companies and that field research into this multibillion dollar market represented a major business opportunity.
The Wellington Group seized the challenge when it developed and self-financed its ground breaking ACCESS Brand Preference Study in 1980. Using proprietary and groundbreaking research methodologies and software, Al designed and directed landmark research to study brand preference differences, between a statistically significant national sample of black, white and Hispanic consumers. These compelling results convinced some manufacturers to take steps to study the African-American market opportunity further.
Under Al's leadership, The Wellington Group conducted marketing research projects mainly for Fortune 500 clients such as Coors Brewing Company, Bristol Myers, Burger King, Chrysler Corporation, Coca Cola USA, Chemical Bank, Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, Avon, Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, Ford Motor Company and many others. The Wellington Group became a nationally recognized marketing research and consulting company and a dynamic force in the African-American marketing community.
Al became the national expert and highly sought after speaker and consultant in the segmented market arena and he was the principal proponent of the belief that African-Americans should utilize and control information about their own market to promote economic development within the African-American community.
Al matriculated at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania where he excelled academically. After receiving his MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from Wharton in 1975, Al was hired by Scott Paper Company as an Assistant Marketing Research Director where he worked on highly classified research and development projects and learned research skills that he continued to use for the rest of his life.
In 1976, he was hired by Johnson & Johnson as a New Market and New Venture Planner. There Al learned how ideas for new products were developed into commercial business ventures. The experiences he gained at Johnson & Johnson enabled him to become a principal in a marketing research firm, Research Inc., were he learned firsthand how to run a company. Once Al truly understood that process, he felt compelled to go into business for himself and, with his wife, Karen, formed The Wellington Group. He married Karen Montague in 1979 and they had five children.
Born on July 7, 1948, in McDonald, Ohio, Al was one of six children born of Alphonzia Wellington, Sr. and Sabra Arnold Wellington. After becoming a star athlete and outstanding student in high school, Al was admitted to Oberlin College. He married Mary Bright and they had two children, Tawn and Shonte (deceased at infancy). He continued to be an outstanding student athlete.
As the starting point guard during his senior year, he helped lead the Oberlin basketball team to the 1970 Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament Championship. After graduation, Oberlin College hired him as Assistant Director of Admissions responsible for implementing a recruitment initiative to increase the number of black student enrollees.
Al designed and implemented a revolutionary program through the Congressional Black Caucus that resulted in the enrollment of 100 well-qualified black students in Oberlin College during the period 1971 through 1974. In 1971, Al was elected as the youngest member of the Oberlin City Council. He also served as Assistant Men's Basketball Coach at Oberlin in 1973.
On October 1, 2010, Al was inducted into the Oberlin College Athletics Hall of Fame for his four-year career of outstanding leadership and athletic performance. Al was grateful for the opportunities that Oberlin College provided him and recently co-authored a book about the historic 1970 championship season entitled “Oberlin Fever, A Championship Spirit in Black and White” with his team co-captain, Randy Miller.
Al is survived by his mother, Sabra Wellington, sisters Sandra Douglas, Sherri Martin and Shawna Hendree, brother-in-laws, Jerome Douglas, Aaron Martin, Vernon Hendree, Paul Miller; daughter-in-law, Katie Wellington; former spouses, Mary Wellington and Karen Wellington; children Tawn, Salim, Anwar, Omar, Adar and Cehara; and grandchildren, Samir and Kyah.
Services were held Jan. 28 in Voorhees, New Jersey. The family asks that expressions of condolences be made with contributions to Al Wellington Memorial Fund.
To enter a tribute, please visit Stories About Al. You can read the entire biography by clicking here.
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