Why Marketers Should Be Targeting Black Consumers


(Six weeks ago,
BET Networks partnered with several of the country's largest African-American
media outlets to form a media and marketing consortium aimed at encouraging
advertisers and marketers to invest more resources in the black consumer

The partners pooled their resources to fund an initial
campaign with print ads in major newspapers and trade magazines and they are
continuing to promote their message through social media and directly to
marketers. The ongoing campaign is called #InTheBlack. In this first-person
article, BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra Lee talks about the campaign and
tells marketers why it's an important initiative and how they can participate
and learn more.

Last month, we partnered with some of the country's leading
African-American media outlets to launch the #INTHEBLACK campaign. We wanted to
speak with one loud collective voice to educate advertisers and consumers about
the power of the African-American consumer and the unique ability the African-American
media has in reaching this base directly.

Through our market and audience research we know African-Americans
represent over 42 million strong mega-consumers and brand influencers with a
buying power of nearly one trillion dollars annually.

Is there enough investment in the strong black audience from
advertisers and key stakeholders?

This has been a conversation happening in the industry for a
long time. At our upfront presentation this year we tackled the issue head-on,
but realized we needed to do more. We knew we needed to bring together the
media entities that are closest to our audience and come up with a unified
strategy to address this problem. I couldn't be more proud of all my peers who
have joined this effort.

However, this is just the beginning of an effort with a very
long tail. As a next step, we will educate and engage the media buying
community. We are all deluged with so much information and are guilty of it not
always being consistent or comprehensively touting the power of our audience.

This is our time to set the record straight.

If African-Americans were a country, they would represent
the 16th largest economy in the world (slightly smaller than Canada
but larger than Australia). If that's not an impressive number, then I don't
know what is.

Even more important, we want to educate and inform our
consumers of their buying strength. We want African-Americans to look at the
products and services they use and ask themselves, "Are these companies in the

In the future we see great opportunity to truly celebrate
those partners who consistently collaborate with the African-American

And finally, we want to reinforce the unique engagement that
black media has with its audience.

I grew up reading Jet and Ebony and am so
proud to be able to see my daughter Ava flip through those same magazines
today. It is important that we preserve our historically black media
publications and demand sufficient investments from advertisers as they are the
pulse of what is relevant and topical in the African-American community.

As we continue down this road to truly vocalize the depth of
African-American spending power, you can visit our website areyoutintheblack.org
to keep track of our progress and find out how you can help make sure all our
voices are heard.