12-14-2017  12:34 am      •     
MLK Breakfast
Cheryl Grace
By Christen McCurdy | The Skanner News
Published: 27 November 2017

Cheryl Grace urges Black consumers to ask themselves five questions before considering a purchase:

  • Does the company or business that I’m about to do business with, do they hire people who look like me?
  • Do they support causes that are important to me?
  • Do they represent people who look like me in a positive way?
  • Did I have to go outside of my neighborhood to get this product or service?
  • If the answer to any of these questions is no, do I want to spend my time or my money with this company?

“I think knowledge is power and when you understand what your power is, hopefully you make different choices and for me the civic and social justice,” Grace said. “It’s about not being afraid to say, ‘I support companies that support me.’”

Grace is the senior vice president of U.S. strategic community alliances and consumer engagement at Nielsen, a market research firm best known for measuring television ratings. She will be the keynote speaker at The Skanner Foundation’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day breakfast, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Jan. 15 at the Red Lion Hotel on the River on Hayden Island.

Grace has been with Nielsen for 13 years, and for the past seven years has overseen the production of a report on Black consumers. The most recent report, “African American Women: Our Science, Her Magic,” hones in on the consumption habits of Black women. The title is a nod to the hashtag campaign #blackgirlmagic, a social media campaign about celebrating Black women’s accomplishments and ideas.

The report focuses in part on the social media habits of Black women. Not only are Black women more likely to use social media, Grace said, they use it for a wide variety of purposes.

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“We are 86 percent more likely to spend five hours or more on social media platforms. We don’t just use social media to look at cat videos. We use it to galvanize and share opinions,” she said. Black women’s purchasing habits also influence people in their own communities – 47 percent say people come to them for advice on purchasing decisions – and trends and styles that become popular with Black women tend to influence trends among other demographics and ethnicities.

Nielsen’s 2011 report on Black consumers was the first to focus on a specific racial demographic. Since then, the company has begun producing reports on Asian and Hispanic consumers as well.

While Nielsen reports are prepared for businesses who want to understand demographic trends and how best to advertise to their target audiences, Grace said she also wants to help consumers understand their own buying power and think more carefully when making purchasing decisions.

She’s made presentations for a variety of community groups – including the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters, the National Action Network, the NAACP and the Urban League – on Black buying power and how it connects to civil rights issues.

 “When you don’t stop to think about your collective power it’s a missed opportunity. It’s understanding we can do so much more to combine efforts and make decisions about where and how we’re going to spend our time and money,” Grace said.

The Skanner Foundation 32nd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast
Jan. 15, 2018, 8:30 - 10:30 a.m.
Red Lion Hotel on the River - Jantzen Beach, Portland, Oregon

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