Type to search

Black consumers more likely to base buying decisions on brand values, family ties, study says


Black consumers more likely to base buying decisions on brand values, family ties, study says


BCN Staff – May 1, 2022 – Chicago-based Numerator, a data and tech company serving the market research space, has released a new consumer study, Understanding the Influence of Heritage on Black Consumers. The report indicates that Black consumers, particularly with African and Caribbean family heritage identities, are deeply connected to home cooking, more likely to follow vegetarian / vegan diets and over-index on organic foods. 

“Family heritage identity data helps brands and retailers develop and refine product innovation and marketing strategies in line with more specific consumer needs,” said Eric Belcher, CEO, Numerator. “As the population of the United States becomes increasingly diverse, brands need an in-depth understanding of every consumer group. Numerator captures hundreds of demographic, psychographic, and media consumption attributes for consumers purchasing across channels to provide brands the deepest insight into modern consumers and unlock more growth opportunities.” 

Consumption Preferences Findings Include:

Heritage identity and ancestry heavily influence consumer behavior. Half of Black consumers (50%) say their family heritage or ancestry has a strong impact on the food products they buy and the holidays they celebrate, compared to 34% of all consumers. Importance of heritage is significantly higher among Black consumers with African heritage identities (68%) or Caribbean heritage identities (64%). 

  • Black consumers with African or Caribbean heritage identities are more likely to cook from scratch than the average US consumer. 42% of US consumers say they cook from scratch, compared to 50% of Black consumers with US heritage, 56% with African heritage and 55% with Caribbean heritage. 
  • Dietary preferences tie back to heritage identities. Black consumers with African heritage are twice as likely to follow a vegetarian diet and 80% more likely to be gluten-free than the average Black consumer. Black consumers of Caribbean heritage are 50% more likely to follow vegan or pescatarian diets.
  • Cooking preferences and diets are reflected in top grocery departments for Black consumers (by share of spend). Black consumers over-index in share of spend for Seafood & Fish (Index 170 vs all consumers), Herbs & Spices (144), and Frozen Foods (114), and under-index in Dairy (77), In-store Bakery (78), and Pasta & Noodles (80). 
  • A commitment to organic eating is important to many Black consumers. Compared to the average US consumer, Black consumers have a stronger preference for organic foods (22% of Black consumers vs 17% of all consumers), which is even more pronounced with Black consumers of African heritage (22%) and Caribbean heritage (32%). 

Black consumers place more importance on brand values than other consumers. One-third (33%) of Black consumers say they have a high awareness of the corporate values behind the products they buy (compared to 25% of all consumers). 

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of Black consumers say they consider a brand’s values when making purchasing decisions, compared to 17% of all consumers.
  • Black consumers are more than twice as likely as the average consumer to place the greatest importance on causes/issues related to diversity, equality and social justice (Index 204).
  • Black consumers with US heritage are more likely to align with corporate values that focus on community, charitable causes or products made in the USA. Those with African heritage are more likely to favor causes with religious/political focus, charitable causes and renewable energy. Those with Caribbean heritage over indexed on values that tie back to animal welfare, natural or organic products and eco-friendly practices.

FMCG Spending Findings Include:

Black consumers are more likely to shop in smaller format retailers. Black consumers spend comparatively more of their FMCG dollars in retailers such as Dollar stores (Index 163 vs all consumers), Drug stores (123), and Gas & Convenience stores (105), compared to the average shopper. Much of this difference can be attributed to store availability by location, with a higher portion of Black consumers living in Urban areas.  

  • Both Club and Online retailers under-index with Black consumers, with both channels capturing 9% less FMCG spending from Black consumers than the average US consumer. 

Nearly 2 in 5 Black consumers (38%) qualify themselves as being budget-driven, compared to 30% of all consumers. The affiliation holds true across income levels and heritage groups, with Black consumers of Caribbean heritage even more likely to identify with budget-driven tendencies (Index 118 vs all Black consumers). 

Faced with inflation, budget-driven Black consumers are ready to make adjustments to continue buying their regular products. Black consumers are most likely to react to rising prices by opting for smaller product sizes (Index 143 vs all consumers), switching retailers (121), or buying in bulk (111). They are less likely to stop buying certain items (73) or switch to cheaper brands (81). 

  • Nearly one-third (31%) of Black consumers say their financial situation has improved since last year (Index 124 vs all consumers). 45% say their situation has not changed (Index 86) and 23% say it has gotten worse (Index 106). 

Black consumers prefer popular brand name products over private label alternatives. Despite budget-driven tendencies, Black consumers are more likely than the average consumer to say that they prefer brand names (Index 136), associate brand name with quality (138) and rarely consider private label products (129).

  • Brand preference is also evident in private label share data, with Grocery, Health & Beauty, Household, and Baby private label brands capturing lower share of spend among Black consumers than among all consumers. 

Media Activation Findings Include:

Black consumers consider emails, social media, and online ads the most influential advertising methods. Influence varies by group, with Black consumers of African heritage preferring print advertising, Caribbean heritage preferring digital advertising and US heritage preferring in-store advertising. 

Brands can connect with Black consumers through social media platforms and streaming services. Compared to all consumers, Black consumers are more likely to use Twitter (Index 133) or TikTok (131); listen to Pandora (146) or podcasts (113); and watch YouTube (142) or local news (114).  

Black consumers are generally more trusting of advertisements, though this varies with heritage identity. Compared to the average consumer, Black consumers are 55% more likely to trust advertised brands and 39% more likely to find advertising entertaining. Black consumers with US heritage are the least trusting of advertising, while those of African heritage are the most trusting. 

*The report analyzes consumer consumption preferences, FMCG spending patterns, and media activation for US Black consumers as a whole, as well as through the lens of heritage identity and ancestry, including African, Caribbean, and United States heritage. Numerator panelists self-identify on hundreds of demographic and psychographic attributes, including racial identity and ancestry. For the latter, consumers were asked to select any countries that were relevant to their family heritage or ancestry. The three largest segments selected by Black consumers were the United States (58.6%), African countries (15.4%), and Caribbean countries (13.6%). 

Numerator is a data and tech company bringing speed and scale to market research.  Numerator blends first-party data from over 1 million US households with advanced technology to provide unparalleled 360-degree consumer understanding for the market research industry that has been slow to change.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *