African Americans look to advertising more than friends to stay on top of the latest trends

It’s relatively commonplace and understandable for multi-cultural marketing teams to focus their efforts on reaching and engaging the sizable and growing segment of Hispanic consumers. However, it’s important that they don’t let their focus on Hispanics eclipse their efforts to court the highly influential and ad-receptive African American market, who, according to a recent analysis conducted by Experian Marketing Services, collectively spend $156.9 billion annually on non-essentials.

The African American Shopper Analysis reports that African Americans are largely image-conscious, brand-focused and like to make a unique fashion statement. Interestingly, African Americans are less likely as a whole to say that their friends influence what they buy and, instead, are more likely to be influenced by advertising ranging from both traditional and social media to out-of-home and in-store.

For example, African American adults are 19 percent less likely than average to say that they ask people for advice before buying new things and 11 percent more likely to say that advertising helps them learn about the products companies have to offer. Additionally, African Americans are 28 percent more likely to say that they are likely to purchase products they see advertised on social media and 28 percent less likely to say that they’re likely to purchase a product that a friend recommends via social media.


African American shoppers are likely to spend long periods of time in a store browsing and, despite being largely brand-focused, they routinely switch things up for the sake of variety. This may sound like a lot of work, but for many African Americans, it’s a labor of love. In fact, they are 21 percent more likely to say that they really enjoy shopping and 13 percent more likely to go shopping frequently. It’s also a bit of a competition, with African Americans being 55 percent more likely than average to say that they are usually the first among their friends to shop at a new store and 72 percent more likely to try new clothing styles before anyone else.

While African Americans are on par with the U.S. average for smartphone ownership, they are less likely to use shopping apps and to visit shopping sites on their phone. However, mobile phones are very important to African Americans and are viewed as a source of self-expression. Coupled with the fact that African Americans are 86 percent more likely to be receptive to mobile advertising, mobile is a critical channel for reaching this group. Marketers should consider mobile payments as a tactic for engaging African American shoppers who are 37 percent more likely to be interested in mobile payments than the average adult.

For more actionable insights to drive successful acquisition and loyalty programs among African American consumers, download the full African American Shopper Analysis.