African-Americans Create Online Identity

Combine phenomenal increases in buying power, a growing population, and rising Internet penetration, and find a valuable demographic market. The African-American community is becoming a strong online presence, and creating its own unique identity.

Research from Selig Center for Economic Growth, Terry College of Business, The University of Georgia indicates that the nation’s black buying power will surge from $688 billion in 2002 to $921 billion in 2008 when almost nine cents of every dollar spent will be from an African-American consumer.

Comparatively, white buying power is expected to reach $8.50 trillion by 2008, representing a 25.9 increase over 2003, while African-Americans tally a 34 percent increase over the same period.

Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s corporate parent) estimates that African-Americans account for roughly 8 percent of the online population, and the group will exceed U.S. Hispanics’ Internet penetration by 2007.


Internet Penetration by U.S.
Household Ethnicity
2001 2007
Caucasian and other 62% 81%
African-American 45% 69%
Hispanic 45% 68%
Asian-American 63% 82%
Source: Jupiter Research

African-Americans are spending considerable time online, as Nielsen//NetRatings found that their Internet usage was only slightly behind that of the total online population in January 2003.


Black vs. Total Internet Usage, January 2003
Time Sessions Pages
Blacks 44 hours 42 1,186
Total Online Population 50 hours 52 1,444
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

According to research from America Online, Inc., this growing demographic has a higher propensity toward purchasing certain items online than the rest of the general Internet population. African-American Internet users purchase more clothing and apparel online that the general Internet market (48 percent compared to 41 percent); and more music and videos (44 percent vs. 39 percent). African-Americans also listen to music online and watch videos more than the general online market.

Overall, the Selig Center for Economic Growth found that African-Americans tend to spend more on telephone services, electricity and natural gas, children’s apparel, and footwear.

AOL’s research revealed that African-American Internet surfers use broadband connections at a higher rate than the general online population – 43 percent compared to 36 percent – and are 27 percent more likely to get a broadband connection within the next year.

Marketers should take notice that most African-Americans read online ads, and 46 percent find them informative compared to 26 percent of the general population. Also, nearly three-quarters of African-Americans say the Internet has had a positive effect on their children.

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