The shopping habits of African-Americans have some distinct characteristics that retailers and marketers should use to better understand black consumers, according to new research by The Nielsen Co.

The report, entitled “The State of the African-American Consumer,” highlights that the population has a buying power of nearly $1 trillion, a sizable consumer market segment in the United States. What is significant is that they shop more frequently than all other groups, but spend less money per trip and overall, according to the data by the information and analytics company.

These cultural and behavioral dynamics reflects their tendency to make quicker/smaller purchases based on short-term needs rather than the desire to “stock up.” This shopping pattern partly explains why African-Americans consumers are more likely to visit convenience stores than non-African-Americans.

African-Americans made 165.7 shopping trips per household over the past year, compared with 153 trips for non-African-Americans, according to Nielsen. Though, African-Americans’ average basket ring per household was $37 per trip compared with $45 for non-African-American households. Overall, they spent $6,138 per household per year, vs. $6,883 for non-African-Americans.

“A few major factors driving African-Americans’ retail traffic may be access to private transportation and lack of major retail development in some urban areas where a concentration of African-American communities reside,” the report states.

When it comes to channel shopping frequency, African-Americans made 17.4 shopping trips per household to convenience stores, compared with 12.7 trips for non-African-Americans. African-Americans also shopped more frequently than non-African-Americans at dollar stores (20.7 shopping trips vs. 11.4) and drugstores (15.6 trips vs. 13.9).

African-Americans made fewer shopping trips per household than non-African-Americans at grocery stores, supercenters, mass merchandisers and warehouse clubs, according to the Nielsen research.

Other notable findings in the report include:

• The number of African-American households earning $75,000 or more has grown by 63.9 percent in the last decade — a rate greater than that of the overall population. This continued growth in affluence, social influence and household income will continue to impact the community’s economic power, especially with women.

• The percentage of African-Americans attending college or earning a degree has increased to 44 percent for men and 53 percent for women. Higher educational and professional success, along with a lower birth rate, is increasing both the age and affluence of the population, increasing the demand for aging, healthcare and financial management services.

• African-Americans are heavy users of electronic media, providing marketers many opportunities to access them with advertising and images that are appealing and highlight their services.

• African-American women tend to be the primary decision makers for most household buying decisions. Marketers should be utilizing advertising messages and images that appeal to them.

• Trends in technology adoption and social networking also provide this group an influence over popular culture beyond the limits of ethnic categorization.

• “The State of the African-American Consumer” is the first of three annual reports attempting to provide a fairly complete picture of the African-American consumer. For a full copy of the report, go to www.nielsen.com/africanamerican or www.nielsen.com.

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