unveils study at ANA that suggests new approach to black consumers
By Aisha Sylvester
Black Enterprise (November 7, 2007) With the buying power of African Americans
projected to reach $1.1 trillion by 2011, Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG)
and Dr. Nat Irvin II, University of Louisville professor and founder of
Future Focus 2020, have conducted a study aimed at providing advertisers
with a strategic approach to reaching black consumers.
Released Tuesday at the Association of National Advertisers conference,
SMG says the Beyond Demographics study underscores its desire to provide
clients with the best way to value and measure their investment in the
black community. Billed as the most detailed information on the African
American buyer available to advertisers, SMG hopes to have it imbedded in
the industry’s metric system by the second quarter of 2008.
Currently, less than 1% of U.S. advertising dollars are spent utilizing
targeted black media to connect with the African American population.
Instead, advertisers rely on the inclusion of black images in the general
market, a move which Miriam Muley, founder and CEO of marketing firm The
85% Niche, claims is negatively impacting African American spending.
Esther Franklin, executive vice president and director of cultural
identities for SMG, believes the fresh perspective of this study will
result in the development of a variety of strategies to effectively reach
the community—once advertisers become aware of the various lifestyles led
by African Americans.
"We're excited to be able to share the texture, the depth, and the
richness of the African American culture in an environment that's [never]
really had this level of insight to it before," says Franklin.
Work began early this year when SMG and Irvin gathered information from
more than 1,000 African Americans across the country. The study showcases
the breadth of the community, painting a picture of the various identities
found in the rich, multilayered black culture.
"The exciting thing about this project is looking beyond the normal lens
through which we see ourselves, then having others look beyond how they
see us," says Irvin, who has been working on this concept since 1996. He
hopes the information provided by the study will result in the portrayal
of more positive and diverse African American characters in the media.
Companies such as Coca-Cola and Kraft have already been briefed on the
contents of the study and are enthusiastic about having such detailed
information on one of the leading consumer groups in the country.
Muley is just as enthusiastic about the research and commends SMG for
their proactive leadership on the issue. "I think this is the kind of
research that is needed to advance the efforts in the African American
space, she says." She hopes that Beyond Demographics will encourage
advertisers to ponder and put into effect the results of the research. "I
am very excited this is the direction we’re moving in and hopefully
marketers won't turn a deaf ear and do business as usual."
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