African-American Influentials Network More Online Professionally, Less Socially

December 6, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Promotions, Coupons & Co-op | Radio | Retail & E-Commerce | Television

African American influentials are much more likely to make business contacts online (52%) than US influentials as a whole (28%) – but they are less likely to “make friends online” (39% vs. 58%), according to a study by Burson-Marsteller.

The study focused on the ways this influential consumer group, dubbed the African American-fluentials, communicates online and offline. The study is part of Burson-Marsteller’s “e-fluentials” series of studies examining influential consumers.

African American-fluentials are also less likely to be active on a social networking site (49%), such as Facebook, than the general population of online influencers (76%). The online activities of African American-fluentials:

burson-marsteller-african-american-influentials-online-activities-part-1.jpg & burson-marsteller-african-american-influentials-online-activities-part-2.jpg

“African American-fluentials tend to embrace the web for business and ‘serious’ pursuits while favoring a range of offline communications tools for social networking,” said Mireille Grangenois, managing director, US Multicultural. “They are twice as likely to use handwritten notes than US e-fluentials but half as likely to write blog entries”:


Among other key findings of the study:

  • African American e-fluentials are well-networked, as they speak to an average of 56 people daily – 40% more people than African American non-fluentials and 20% more than US e-fluentials.


  • African American-fluentials spend similar amounts of time online as the broader e-fluential population (25.2 hours and 24.6 hours per week, respectively), but significantly more time talking with family, friends and co-workers (26.5 hours per week versus 20.9 hours per week for US e-fluentials):


  • African American-fluentials are community-oriented:
    • 58% have discussed local community issues with others in the past few months, compared with 45% of US E-fluentials.
    • However, almost one-fourth (22%) of those surveyed say companies are inattentive to the needs of their community or are sensitive to African American culture.

“Young people in the African American community are particularly value-oriented,” says Mark Penn, CEO of Burson-Marsteller and author of Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes.

“There is an emerging group of African American youth poised to enrich and lead society in substantial ways. They are not only a serious target audience for the technology, apparel, sports and entertainment industries, but also are ready recruits for college, job, volunteer and leadership opportunities at every level.”

Among the study’s other findings:

  • 86% of African American-fluentials report that they are more likely to listen to companies that develop products that reflect community and cultural needs and interests.
  • In addition to offering community-relevant products, companies that support community philanthropies (85%) and charities (79%) will garner this audience’s attention. These community-focused efforts are more compelling to African American-fluentials than coupons (75%) or promotional emails (66%).
  • 82% of African American-fluentials say brand drives their purchase decisions (only 68% of US e-fluentials agree). Additionally, 85% of African American-fluentials say that once they find a brand they like, they stick with that brand.
  • While brand and in-store display are key drivers of African American-fluentials’ purchases, coupons and promotions also drive sales:
    • 60% of African American-fluentials forward emails with coupons and discount offers (compared with only 49% of US e-fluentials).
    • 49% forward emails with promotion and sale information (compared with 29% of US e-fluentials).

About the survey: Burson-Marsteller partnered with MSI International to conduct a survey of online US African Americans, age 18 and older. A total of 1,000 online interviews were completed.

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