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Black millenials closing the digital divide

OW Staff Writer | 11/10/2016, midnight
Black millennials are reportedly 11.5 million strong and leading a viral vanguard that is driving African Americans’ innovative use of ...

Black millennials are reportedly 11.5 million strong and leading a viral vanguard that is driving African Americans’ innovative use of mobile technology and closing the digital divide. Nielsen highlights this group in a new report called “Young, Connected and Black: African-American Millennials Are Driving Social Change and Leading Digital Advancement.”

With $162 billion in buying power and undisputed cultural influence, Black millennials are using their power to successfully raise awareness of issues facing the Black community and to influence decisions shaping our world. Media and brands are taking notice, creating campaigns and content that target this increasingly influential demographic with greater ad spends and more diverse programming.

Nielsen released its sixth annual report on Black consumers. The 2016 report focuses on the nation’s 11.5 million African American millennials—their shopping and viewing habits, social media and digital trends, economic power and cultural influence. For more details and insights, download the 2016 report, “Young, Connected and Black: African-American Millennials Are Driving Social Change and Leading Digital Advancement” at www.nielsen.com/africanamericans.

The sixth in Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series focused on Black consumers, “Young, Connected and Black” paints a picture of a Black Diaspora that is tech-savvy; socially and civically engaged; growing in population (46.3 million or 14 percent of the U.S. population) and buying power (nearly $1.2 trillion in 2015); and optimistic about the future.

“We have entered a new era whereby technology has become a great equalizer,” said Cheryl Grace (née Pearson-McNeil), senior vice president, U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement. “Black millennials are leading the way in their use of technology to impact change and get their voices heard.” c

“African-American millennials are blazing trails to the center of the debate over matters that are paramount to their future success and safety—all as their influence over mainstream consumers grows,” said Deborah Gray-Young, managing partner, D. Gray-Young Inc., a multicultural marketing consulting firm and Nielsen External Advisory Council member. “Nielsen continues to be the definitive source of independent third-party insights on consumers of color. This annual report is an essential tool for organizations looking to develop a deeper contextual understanding of the influence and economic power of Black consumers.”

The 2016 report delves into the spending and viewing habits of African Americans overall and credits a voracious appetite for television content with the dramatic increase in diverse television programming. Between 2011 and 2015, broadcast network TV ad spends focused on Black audiences (defined as ad dollars placed on programming with greater than 50 percent Black viewers) increased by 255 percent. The Top 10 TV shows among Black millennials 18–24 and Blacks 35+ all had predominately Black casts or lead actors who are key to the storyline (e.g. “Empire,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” and “The Walking Dead”).

Some other key highlights from the report:

— African Americans are closing the digital divide

— African American millennials are 25 percent more likely than all millennials to say they are among the first of their friends/colleagues to try new technology products.

— As smartphone owners, African Americans (91 percent) are second only to Asian-Americans (94 percent).