Many African American consumers would be surprised and disappointed to learn that the overwhelming majority of Fortune 500 companies they support are too embarrassed to reveal the percentage of their bottom line revenue that comes from Black consumers. Some have even instituted a “we don’t answer surveys” policy at the corporate level. This is one of their tricks to block entities that are concerned with reciprocity and involvement. Start to notice the long number of companies not included in surveys provided by the NAACP, Black Enterprise, National Urban League or other organizations. It’s the corporate version of “Don’t Ask, because we Don’t Tell.”
For centuries, the Black consumer has been “Old Reliable” in the marketing plans of major brands. How many of the products in your home today are there because your grandmother used them? Now, holding that same list of products in your mind — ask yourself, how many times have I heard this company play an advertisement on my favorite Black-owned radio station? Have I ever seen them in my community sponsoring events? Do I see them doing any advertisements in Black-owned magazines that I read? Are they a visible sponsor at any of the Black national conferences I attend? Do I see their banner on Black-themed websites that I visit? If you answer NO to the majority of these questions — I would submit that the company is not doing any serious outreach to the Black consumer market, and your loyalty and consumer dollars are being taken for granted by them. Now do you want to do anything about it — or are you comfortable with the status quo?
According to the Black Enterprise article, “a considerable number of the companies BE Research contacted failed to complete surveys or admitted to not having any such policies or programs.” Also known as “What you talking ’bout Willis?” Syndrome infecting the senior diversity and marketing executives of the companies in question. Even the NAACP has had difficulty forcing these publicly traded companies to provide meaningful numbers about inclusion and reciprocity. It’s Consumer Choice Guide had to give companies the “F” grade for many years to try to raise public pressure and get access to the data. A sure sign it’s not good corporate news – or they’d be sending out their own press releases and holding press conferences to brag about their commitment. Many companies are trying to avoid the possibilities of class-action lawsuits or mass consumer revolt at their insulting lack of meaningful partnerships with the African American community.
Some companies even boast [privately] that they have “95% penetration into the African American consumer market - and don’t spend a dime in marketing to them.” Other major brands say that “we really get enough of the Black consumers money — we see no need to advertise or market to them.” And another often heard refrain is “Black consumers have a slave mentality.”
This is partly because African American consumers consistently spend 95% of their annual earned monies, projected to reach $1.2 trillion dollars by 2012, outside of their own race. It has the highest “spend money outside the race” (SMOTR) percentage of any ethnic group in America. This permits many of today’s largest corporations and entire industries to continue to reap the economic benefits or the consumer base, while having little regard for creating meaningful business partnerships with the African American community.