07 06 2015
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Today, the phrase Black Power takes on a new meaning.  In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Black Power Movement inspired racial pride and self-esteem amongst African-Americans and encouraged all Americans to acknowledge and embrace Black culture and heritage.   Now Black Power also refers to the considerable economic influence of African-Americans.

According to recent Nielsen reports, the buying power of African-Americans is $1.1 trillion and expected to grow to $1.3 trillion by 2017. That is significant economic influence wielded by 44 million Blacks in the U.S.  In addition, African-Americans are conscious of how they spend their time and money, thus leveraging this purchasing power to ensure their economic impact is recognized and valued (See Nielsen’s videos here and here).

The influence of Black Power increases exponentially when the overall impact that Blacks have on American popular culture is considered.  A Nielsen report highlights that 73 percent of Whites and 67 percent of Hispanics believe that Blacks influence mainstream culture.  This is evidenced by the success of recent television shows that feature Black actors and culturally relevant story lines.  African-Americans watch nearly 200 hours of television per month, roughly 60 more hours than the total audience.  The successful programming formula of inclusivity is an effective strategy for television producers, but it also is incredibly effective for reaching multiple audiences and testifies to the power of diversity.

In addition, music by African-American artists consistently populates Billboard’s Top 20 albums chart.  Youth is a key driver for specific music genres, and more than half of the Black population – 53 percent – is under the age of 35 (compared to 47 percent of total population). However, African-American youth aren’t the sole procurers of Black music.  Hip-hop, in particular, has become an international, multibillion-dollar business reflective of the strong sway Black culture has on the music industry and its trends, thus providing additional proof of the far-reaching impact of today’s Black Power.  Over the years, jazz, blues and R&B have had similar universal appeal.

“African-Americans are increasing their consciousness of the power they yield in how they spend their time and money and how those decisions – whether it’s which television show to watch or which song to download – can be compounded and multiplied for maximum impact across diverse demographics,” says Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, Nielsen’s senior vice president, strategic community alliance and consumer engagement.  “The Black Power Movement in the ’60s and ’70s led to significant and historical changes.  That same type of conscious impact is achievable utilizing today’s platforms and tools,” she says.

For more information on Nielsen’s latest African-American consumer report, “Power. Growing. Influential,” please click here.

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