#BlackGirlMagic is trending—on social media and in real life. What does it mean? Recently, an editor at Essence Magazine defined it as, “A term used to illustrate the universal awesomeness of Black women.” While it started as a social media hashtag and rallying call for Black women and girls to share images, ideas and sources of pride in themselves and other Black females, it has also become an illustration of Black women’s unique place of power at the intersection of culture, commerce and consciousness.
This report is Nielsen’s seventh look at African-American consumers and the second time we’ve focused our attention on Black women. Now more than ever, African-American women’s consumer preferences and brand affinities are resonating across the U.S. mainstream, driving total Black spending power toward a record $1.5 trillion by 2021. At 24.3 million strong, Black women account for 14% of all U.S. women and 52% of all African-Americans. In the midst of data chronicling her steady growth in population, income and educational attainment, the overarching takeaway for marketers and content creators is to keep “value and values” top of mind when thinking about this consumer segment.
A core tenet of the Black Girl Magic is her perseverance against socioeconomic headwinds, and her gains in entrepreneurship and academic success directly contribute to her being the economic engine of the Black community. This report offers data and insights to Black women’s ability to drive product categories and shift culture—and make it look like magic.
Young, independent and self-made, the majority of African-American women have a set of strong life-affirming values that carry over into all they do, including an array of consumer preferences and brand affinities that resonate across the U.S. mainstream. As trendsetters for women of every race and ethnic background, Black women increasingly are influencing mainstream culture across a number of areas, including in civic engagement, where Black women are taking the lead in efforts to improve their environment and in consumption, where Black women are prime influencers in fashion, television, and music among many other areas. Because they know that style conveys confidence, staying on the cutting edge and projecting an impressive personal image is important to Black women.
Especially adept at using technology and social media to trade opinions and affirm each other’s choices, Black women, more than any demographic group, have taken social media and adopted it for higher purposes. Black women have mobilized to advance women’s rights and collective action through a hashtag with #BlackGirlMagic, a term that describes a cross-platform gathering of empowered Black women who uplift each other and shine a light on the impressive accomplishments of Black women throughout the world, and #which uncovers and addresses the daily racism that some black women face at work. Whether they are buying cars, jewelry, cell phones beauty products, or many other staples or luxuries, community referrals, advice, and feedback play an important role in Black women’s purchases, as do the style and image they project daily. With an ever-growing intercultural influence, Black women play an increasingly vital part in how all women see themselves, their families and the rest of the world. The purpose of this report is to bring to a clearer focus on the science and data that inform that magic of Black female empowerment and motivation.
The African-American woman’s interdependent mindset is also present in her growing media presence and educational attainment and entrepreneurial success. Even as they join the global movement toward ecological sustainability, Black women see an equal footing with guaranteeing clean air, water and, most importantly, safety for their own families and communities.
They continue to break the mold in a myriad of ways, especially younger women who have been lifted up by the hard work and support of their mothers, grandmothers, and other family members who empowered them with a belief in their limitless potential. The established trend of Black women as the primary wage earner and head of household has found traction among Black millennial women who are ages 18–34, 81% of whom have never been married. That spirit of self-reliance and resilience is also helping to fuel rising levels of entrepreneurial success and collaboration. Black female entrepreneurship has grown substantially over the last decade. The most recent U.S. Census Survey of Business Owners showed that Black women are the majority owners in over 1.5 million businesses with more than $42 billion in sales. The rise in Black female buying power, which is a result of their increased success in business and their careers, is spread across a wide swath of consumer industries, ranging from name-brand clothing and automobiles to food, entertainment, and beauty products.
Black women are more likely than their white cohorts to own a smartphone and explore social platforms that provide entertainment and help them at work, but they are also willing to compromise on features and accessories that meet their budget. Black women have also adapted technology to engage with their faith communities, which brings a spiritual dimension to their expanding social and professional networks. Black women are not only redefining what it means to be a woman for themselves but are at the vanguard of changing gender roles and unlimited possibilities for American women of all ages and races. Black women actively seek out mentors and role models in business, media, and entertainment, partly as a way to build networks that will help them fulfill their own goals and dreams, and also because of their own aspirations to be leaders and role models for the next generation of empowered, confident and fiercely independent Black women.
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