Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Trying to sell computers? Reach out to African-Americans.


A recently released study of African-Americans showed that while population had increased by 10% from 2000 to 2008, buying power increased by a whopping 55% to $913 billion.

It also indicated that they spend a proportionately higher percentage of their income on technology products. In fact, 31% of their discretionary income ($39 billion) is used to buy computers, cell phones and electronics.

Finally, the same study indicated that African-Americans spend more time weekly online (18 hours) than watching television (15 hours). (Loechner, 2010)

It’s a perfect combination -- a more qualified prospect, with a specific media skew. Can a targeted campaign be far behind? Which computer company do you think will be savvy enough to capitalize on the opportunity first?

Loechner, J. (2010, February 8) African-Americans Major Influence in Tech, Media and Buying Power. Retrieved February 9, 2010, from


  1. Professor Lehrer,

    Not sure if you watch Mad Men but a very similar issue was discussed in an episode regarding TV's instead of computers. But how do you target for a race without coming across as racist? Both towards the targeted race and then those not targeted? The fact that African-Americans spend more time online than watching TV shows that they already are buying (or at least using) computers. Perhaps only time with this "new" purchasing power is needed to see an increase in purchases.

  2. I think a targeted campaign would be a very smart idea and one that will happen. I don't think it would necessarily come across as being racist if done right. There are many advertisements showing African Americans using different products. The newest one that I have seen is for Budweiser, which is posted inside some of the NYC trains.

    Dell has already been targeting the African-American consumers. They have advertised in magazines such as Black Enterprise and Essence which are geared more toward their community. According to Dell's website they are actively supporting African-Americans in many ways such as sponsoring and partnering with some of their events and organizations, focusing on hiring them, and having networking groups. They have even received some diversity awards.

    Apple has also already started advertising toward the black community. There are several videos on youtube which advertise ipods, itouch, itunes, and iphones using jazz & hip-hop music, hip-hop and R&B artists (Eminem, Soulja Boy, Mary J. Blige), and break dancing moves. I don't doubt that Apple will start including some of these ideas to increase the purchases of their computers in the African-American communities.

  3. A targeted campaign makes a lot of sense, however, "African American" is much too broad a descriptor to be successful with this. I think the target market would have to be much more specific than just "African American." What is the age group/ gender within the African American community that is interested in spending the money and time on these technologies? I think the brand that takes the time to do the research to find the age/gender will have the upper hand in launching a targeted campaign first.

  4. The targeted campaigns have already started. I see a lot more music groups and soundtracks being noticed on Mac's with video uploads. That allows anybody including the African American population, that has increased its interest in computers to stay up to date on the new trend in music, clothing and gossip of musical groups and celebrities they are interested in. Besides going on the computer staying in touch through high tech gadgets is the new thing and being connected all the time is high priority and Mac already accomplished that with how to personalize your computer or cell phone.

  5. Computer companies should definitely heed this piece of statistics and put out ads targeting African American consumers. And I think it's crucial that the creative minds behind these campaigns be comprised of African Americans. After all, who knows more about the culture, the spending habits and the consumer priorities of African Americans, than, well, African Americans?
    If done right, these ad campaigns should drive up the sales of the computer company that implements them effectively and at the right time. Perhaps being a pioneer in doing so will position them as a favorite among this demographic. But again, these campaigns must be genuinely in touch with African American consumers.

    Zenn mentioned in a post above "jazz & hip-hop music, hip-hop and R&B artists (Eminem, Soulja Boy, Mary J. Blige), and break dancing moves" to attract African American consumers. To me, this seems to be the ever-recurring cliché pertaining African Americans. Does this really work in luring consumers from this ethnic group? Maybe it does and really well, maybe just to some extent, or maybe not, since it's been used over and over again. And if the latter were the case, and a company were to put out an ad campaign based on failed/outdated tactics, it could just result counter-productive to their business. Again, African Americans would know better what works and what doesn't for them. The same goes for every other demographic (ethnicity, gender, age group, etc.) That's why it's important that the members of a group that a company is catering to, devise the advertising strategy that would work for them.