Faced with the enormous task of triggering a lasting paradigm shift in how spending power is leveraged in the black community, it is not enough to simply urge consumers to “Buy Black.” A comprehensive picture of spending habits among different demographic groups and informed analysis of trends throughout American industry from the tech sector to banking and finance is essential. By addressing these social realities we can better assess what consumers desire most from black-owned businesses and devise constructive plans to fulfill them.
One area of special interest in this regard is the consumption patterns among millennials. Consisting of those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, this young, technologically oriented demographic will play a central role in shaping the economies of the 21st century. Consequently, any analysis of the millennial’s impact of the national economy would be incomplete without addressing their relationship to the overwhelming power wielded by the country’s leading banking corporations.
Author and business strategist Shama Hyder explores this relationship in Forbes magazine, where she contends that “millennials are skeptical of traditional institutions.” Banking giants like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase now find themselves being displaced by the more non-conventional institutions. For the millennial generation, “finance is more synonymous with crowdfunding, virtual currencies and online payment platforms than it is with the brick building with a drive-thru ATM on the corner.”
What does this have to do with the empowerment of the black community and connecting black-owned businesses with conscious consumers? This skepticism for traditional institutions is intimately linked with another development in millennial buying patterns which champions social responsibility as a core value. This is shown through the fact that “supporting social causes and being part of a greater movement is something this generation actively seeks out.” Furthermore, “[millennials] want to align themselves with brands which they feel are making a difference in society.”
Shopping at black-owned businesses would contribute greatly to this evolving movement, strengthening not only consumers in the African American community but the nation as a whole. According to the US Census the African American population is projected to comprise 74.5 million people by 2060 (17.9 percent of the population). Furthermore, Blavity reports that among black consumers “spending money in our own community is a priority.” Meanwhile, the Nielsen agency has reported that an emerging segment of “multicultural consumers” make up 38% of the US population and “account for $3.4 trillion in buying power.” Taken together we discover that the interests of black consumers in many ways align with that of millennials nationwide. Reaping the benefits of this social phenomenon will depend on how attentive we are to these desires.