Affluent Blacks still untapped market for luxury brands

NEW ORLEANS–Wealthy African- Americans are a largely untapped and widely overlooked demographic despite having $29.8 billion in purchasing power, according to results from a study released recently.

NEW ORLEANS–Wealthy African- Americans are a largely untapped and widely overlooked demographic despite having $29.8 billion in purchasing power, according to results from a study released recently.

The paper, Marketing to Affluent African-Americans: Strategic Insights for Reaching an Untapped Market, consisted of online interviews with affluent African Americans as well as a series of regional focus groups held in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C. It features the results of insights on the behaviors, attitudes, opinions and spending patterns of affluent African Americans, defined as individuals earning at least $75,000 annually.

“This study provides marketers with insights, case studies, interviews with executives and data to help them more effectively target this growing audience of consumers,’’ said Andrea Hoffman, CEO of Diversity Affluence, a consultancy that specializes in providing marketing insights on affluent ethnic consumers. “Marketers will benefit immeasurably from engaging these influential consumers who have been waiting to be acknowledged for years but have been largely ignored by most luxury brands,’’ she said.

The paper was the result of a collaboration between Diversity Affluence and UPTOWN magazine.

Hoffman recently coined a new term, “Royaltons,” to refer to American affluent ethnic consumers. African-American Royaltons (AARs) refer to a small but wealthy group of influential people who purchase items such as Rolex watches, luxury cars and who frequently travel internationally. Hoffman also noted that the intelligence gathered from researching AARs will enable marketers to more effectively reach some of the most powerful and untapped consumers in today’s marketplace.

Other results from the survey:

  • Royaltons conduct extensive research on luxury items before they buy.
  • Decisions influencing their purchase included tailored advertising, personalized service and event marketing at the retail level.
  • AARs are aspirational and focus on trading up to more luxurious brands.
  • Fashion is an expected luxury and is equally important to both men and women.
  • Men’s fashion spending is focused on career and casual wear, while women spend money on purses and shoes.

“AARs are a compelling audience because they have money to spend, economic clout and word of mouth influence among their peers that could redefine social networking as we know it,’’ Hoffman said. “Marketers must educate themselves about this demographic’s needs, interests and economic significance.’’

However, she warned that marketers who rely on worn and dated marketing techniques, use the same celebrities or irrelevant print media images, and copy or incorporate a series of cliches as substitutes for more advanced forms of marketing will fail to make a lasting impression on AARs.

Hoffman also noted that the best way for luxury brands to determine where they stand in the marketplace with this constituency is to conduct a marketing audit to determine the extent of their existing relationship with the AARs or how to reach them. An audit, she added, can determine all the opportunities available to reach AARs and is another way to launch or expand a diversity initiative.

“Black is the new ‘green,’ and any marketer who learns the nuances of this core group of consumers and the vehicles to properly reach them will have access to unlocking AARs’ vast buying potential,’’ Hoffman said. "This is especially true in these cost conscious times when every company is scrutinized and accountability takes center stage."

Special to the NNPA from the Louisiana Weekly

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Copyright 2008 NNPA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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