Black America: Trendsetters and Super Consumers

It’s no secret that ethnic minorities set the trend for what’s popular in America. The buying power for Asian, Hispanic, and Black Americans has (and continues) grown exponentially quicker than that of the whites; in 2014, the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the U.S. Census calculated that the buying power for these groups is at $3.4 trillion, which is a 415% increase from $661 billion in 1990.

Black Americans have a buying power of $1.4 trillion alone. Having a major impact on American culture, Black Americans are heavy users of technology as well as products that tie to cultural and family traditions, rooted in large cities and the South.

From a report by Nielsen, a global information and metrics company, Black Americans made up ~86% of all ethnic hair and beauty aid sales in America. We know that Black people like fashion as well – while Michael Jordan is one of the best basketball players of all-time, he continues to make lots of money off of us.

I am proud that cultural capital is at the forefront of Black consumers; in recent years, we have used social media on everything from Aunt Viv’s silly spat with Jada to making a statement about police brutality…and calling people out on their racist shit. We continue to set trends with our music, hair, fashion, beauty aids (I recently saw a YouTube video of a white woman discovering cocoa butter), and everything in between.

While cultural capital is working for us, economic capital is not. We know so much about what is trending because we are the trendsetters. However, we are not Super Producers, not because we lack creativity, vision, and business-sense, but because we do not have access. While Black women have been the fastest growing entrepreneur segment in the country, based on a 2013 American Express report, there are only ~50 Black-owned venture capital firms in this country; that number is abysmally low, making us <1% of the American venture capital market. Venture capital firms invest money into start up and small companies. In order to monetize our ideas (not culture), we need to start our own businesses and firms, which in turn, will create a Black economy – for us to barter and trade within. In short, create, buy, and sell Black where possible; make sound decisions about where your money goes and why it goes there.

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