Nielsen and Essence Collaborate for One-of-a-Kind Custom Study on African-American Consumers

WASHINGTON--()--At 87%, the majority of African-American consumers surveyed feel ethnic recognition and cultural identity are important – indicating opportunities for companies to connect with this group on multiple levels according to Powerful. Growing. Influential. The African-American Consumer 2014 Report, jointly released today by Nielsen and ESSENCE.

“In partnership with Nielsen, we uncovered the true 'Essence of Black Women Consumers', who self-identify as community-builders”

Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights; with ESSENCE, the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, surveyed more than 10,000 online and in-person participants during the 20th ESSENCE Festival presented by Coca-Cola® in New Orleans, to uncover what matters most to African-American consumers and key drivers of their purchasing and viewing habits.

“The ESSENCE Brand is strong in the African-American community,” said Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, senior vice president, U.S. Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, Nielsen. “This relationship has offered a successful cross-platform engagement opportunity to reach and listen to thousands of African-American consumers across the country.”

Media Consumption

The fourth report presented new insights on Blacks’ media consumption particularly in radio and an affinity for African-American focused media. Ninety-two percent of African-Americans surveyed tune in to radio each week and the top-ranked radio formats included Urban Contemporary, Adult Urban Contemporary and Rhythmic Contemporary. Fifty-nine percent of African-Americans agreed that advertisers in Black newspapers know how to connect with the African-American audience.

African-Americans continue to over-index in real-time television viewing, and watch nearly 45 hours per week, which is about 14 more hours weekly than any other group. And 52% of affluent (annual incomes of $50,000+) African-Americans agreed that advertising in culturally relevant magazines provides useful information about products and bargains. African-Americans are heavy users of smartphones and have high participation rates on social media. Smartphone penetration for Blacks is at 78%. Blacks also feel their expression on social media provides a strong connection to their favorite brands and 81% are more likely to support brands or their favorite company via social channels.

The ESSENCE of Black Women Consumers

“The ESSENCE of Black Women Consumers,” is a special pull-out section on Black females, a new feature for this year’s report. The insights provide a comprehensive view of the Black woman and her power as a consumer.

“In partnership with Nielsen, we uncovered the true 'Essence of Black Women Consumers', who self-identify as community-builders,” said Michelle Ebanks, president, Essence Communications Inc. “For our passionate audience of women--who are striving for economic, social and political equality—strengthening community through consumerism is intrinsic and serves as a pathway to empowerment."

Highlights from “The ESSENCE of Black Women Consumers” include:

  • 80% of Black women will tell their friends about a product if they like it.
  • Black women are twice more likely to spend more than three hours on social networking sites in an average day than the general market.
  • 79% of African-American women agree that pursuing good health is important.
  • 62% of African-American women believe embracing and supporting their ethnic culture is important.

Culturally Relevant Advertising

Cultural identity and diversity were two important themes which African-Americans indicated resonated with them and are critical variables that drive purchases. Compared to the general population, African-Americans are 30% more likely to believe diversity in advertising is important, and 38% are more likely to make a purchase when the advertisements have African-Americans included. These variables were also key factors in African-Americans’ support of Black and diverse-owned businesses. Fifty-five percent of African-American households with incomes of $50,000+ said they would purchase or support a product if it were sold or supported by a person of color or miniorty-owned business.

Marketing Opportunities

As African-Americans’ interests continue to expand, marketers have newer opportunities to connect with them. Health and wellness and the pursuit of a balanced life were strong indicators of Blacks’ concern for their overall well-being. Ninety-five percent of affluent African-Americans, 18-54, with household incomes of $50,000+ believe living a healthy lifestyle is important. In addition to health and wellness, financial management is important. Thirty-four percent of affluent Blacks surveyed said they were proud of the amount of money saved, however, seven percent are aggressively investing.

To download a copy of the full report, please visit Nielsen’s microsite for African-American consumers at

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE:NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit


Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media company dedicated to African-American women, with a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online. The company’s flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women; generating brand extensions such as the ESSENCE Festival, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood and Black Women in Music, Window on Our Women and Smart Beauty consumer insights series, the ESSENCE Book Club,, and ventures in digital media. For 44 years, ESSENCE, which has a brand reach of 13.4 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information and specific solutions relating to every area of African-American women’s lives. Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at


Nielsen Holdings N.V.
Rebecca Roussell, 312-315-8616
Dana Baxter, 212-522-1634

Release Summary

Nielsen and ESSECE surveyed 10,000 people for a custom study to find out what matters most to African-American consumers.

Nielsen Holdings N.V.