Black Americans are key drivers of American popular culture both as creators and consumers. Their artistic endeavors and media consumption help drive the $720 Billion media and entertainment economy. As part of The Black Consumer Project, our four-part consumer research series, we looked at specifics of how Black Americans engage with media and entertainment. The results highlight how influential the segment truly is.
Most Americans engage with some form of media daily. However, Black Americans consume significantly more media and entertainment content than non-Black Americans. For example, non-Blacks watch an average of 2.6 hours a day of streaming services compared to 3.6 for Blacks. Blacks also over-indexed in consumption of broadcast TV, online gaming, listening to music and podcasts and engaging with others on social media. Not only do they watch more and listen more, but they’re also more engaged while doing it for most activities. Forty-nine percent of Black Americans say they’re fully engaged while listening to music vs. 40% of non-Blacks, and 57% say they’re fully engaged while watching streaming services vs. 54% of non-Blacks.
Blacks and over twice as likely to follow the NBA. Interest in both these sports is higher among Blacks at the college level as well. Black Americans were also more likely to follow boxing and track and field. They showed less interest than non-Blacks in baseball or NASCAR but were about equally as interested in Major League Soccer (MLS). Interest in following all sports increased with income, especially for sports like soccer, tennis and golf.
Online gaming hasn’t always been a safe space for women and people of color. That is not surprising, considering a survey conducted in 2021 by the International Game Developers Association found that only 30% were women and only 4% of game developers in the U.S. identify as Black. This has led to a dearth of Black protagonists in games dominated by White males.
Even so, Black Americans are gamers. Being six years younger than the national median age helps boost their participation in gaming-related activities. They play differently, though. Black Americans are more likely to play video games in-person and with friends and family than non-Blacks, and they’re also slightly more likely to play on a gaming console and less likely to play on a PC.
When watching others play, they are more likely to go to YouTube and less likely to watch on Twitch.
Black Americans were instrumental in defining American music, dance, fashion and more. They are now helping shape online content. Sixty-two percent of Black Gen Z and 66% of Black Millennials have created or posted original content online in the past 30 days. The most popular site for online content creation among all ethnic groups is still Facebook with Instagram coming in second. Black creators, however, are less likely to post on Facebook (64% vs. 70%) and more likely to post on YouTube (39% vs. 28%) and equally likely to post on Instagram (47% vs. 48%).
Black Americans are monetizing their online content at similar rates as non-Blacks with Black men leading the way at 41% monetizing. Among those not currently monetizing, Black respondents were more likely to say they would monetize in the future.
Black American creators have pushed the boundaries of our cultural landscape, while Black consumers have helped to shape the tastes and trends of American pop culture. While Black consumers are more likely to engage with media content than non-Blacks, their participation cannot be taken for granted. They are hungry for culturally relevant content and gravitate towards outlets that deliver. Among streaming services, Peacock launched with shows like Bel-Air and The Best Man which drew in Black audiences, especially Gen X, which caused it to over-index among Black viewers.
However, platforms that stream online gamers, like Twitch, haven’t done a good job of stopping racist harassment prompting Black audiences to gravitate towards YouTube and other platforms. As we move forward, it is important to continue to celebrate and amplify the contributions of Black Americans to American culture and to create opportunities for their voices to be heard and their stories to be told.
Click to watch The Black Consumer Project here.
Celebrations are positive ways for communities to connect and families to bond. How we celebrate differs by ethnicity, values, traditions, and even geography. In honor of Black History Month, ThinkNow conducted a national study of U.S. adults to understand Black Americans’ attitudes and behaviors toward holiday celebrations and traditions and how they compare to other demographic groups. This report is one in a series of reports examining how Americans celebrate popular holidays throughout the calendar year. Here’s what we found.
Civil rights holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth are celebrated by 50% and 39% of Black Americans, respectively. This compares to 12% of non-Black Americans who celebrate MLK Day and 7% who celebrate Juneteenth. Black respondents indicated they were most likely to spend time with other family members on civil rights holidays. Click To Tweet
Twenty-two percent report attending parades on MLK Day, and 26% prepare a special meal for Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday since 1983 when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was enacted. While only 12% of the Total Market celebrates Juneteenth, growing pressure from consumers on brands to be more inclusive has stimulated interest in this holiday since 2020.
Despite racial divides and systemic inequities Black Americans face in this country, they celebrate patriotic holidays at surprising rates. Over 60% of Black Americans celebrate the 4th of July, which is on par with non-Black Americans. Black Americans, however, are more likely to celebrate Memorial Day (45% vs. 35%) and Presidents’ Day (28% vs. 20%) and slightly more likely to celebrate Veterans Day (29% vs. 25%) than non-Blacks. Most Black Americans celebrate the 4th of July by gathering with family and friends (73%) and preparing a special meal (40%). Memorial Day is also an occasion to gather with friends (56%).
Black Americans’ history with patriotic holidays is complicated, however. Click To Tweet
The idea of celebrating the independence of a nation at a time when the vast majority of Blacks were enslaved rang hollow and still does for some today. Or when history neglects to tell the story of thousands of Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, who paid tribute to fallen Confederate and Union soldiers in one of the earliest Memorial Day observances. Over time, these stories have been written out of history books and replaced with commercialism. Today, Presidents' Day is more known for mattress and appliance sales than the first president’s birthday. Perhaps holidays like Memorial Day over-index with Black Americans because they celebrate individuals over the nation as a whole.
Halloween was one of the lesser celebrated holidays among Black Americans, with only 40% celebrating compared to 49% of non-Blacks. Relatedly, about 60% of Black Americans identify as Christian when asked about their religion. Christians have a divided perspective regarding Halloween festivities, as shown by the nearly equal halves of those who do and don’t celebrate. Among Black churchgoers looking to join the holiday fun without the pagan elements, “Trunk or Treat” events have become popular, including trick or treating in a church environment with non-threatening costumes and no bubbling cauldrons. Interestingly, Black Americans are only slightly more likely to celebrate Good Friday and Easter than non-Blacks (44% vs. 41%).
Black Americans are more likely to celebrate certain holidays, like the 4th of July, alone (21% vs. 10%), according to the research, while non-Black Americans were more often celebrating with partners since only 30% of Black Americans are married vs. the national average of 48%. This, however, leads to more time spent with their extended families. For example, 59% of Blacks celebrate July 4th with other family members vs. 45% of non-Blacks. This was also true on military and civil rights holidays, with nearly half of Black Americans celebrating Juneteenth by getting together with other family members on that day.
Most spending occurs around Christmas with purchases averaging $439 for Blacks and $469 for non-Blacks. Thanksgiving and Mardi Gras are also very popular spending holidays in the Black community with spending averages around $222 and $167, respectively. Halloween spending of $153 for Black Americans is slightly less than the non-Black average of $161.
When it comes to holidays, Black Americans are surprisingly patriotic. They may be a minority in the U.S., but they have more in common with non-Hispanic Whites than Hispanics or Asians when celebrating America and lead the nation in commemorating civil rights holidays. Their religious affiliation makes them more slightly likely to celebrate Easter than the average American, but it also makes them less likely to celebrate “pagan” holidays like Halloween.
Understanding these dynamics is key to providing goods and services that have the potential to make celebrations memorable for the 47 million Black Americans in this country who wield 1.4 trillion dollars in spending power.
You can download the full report here.
Black Americans have historically had a strained relationship with the U.S. healthcare system. Insufficient access to quality care and affordable medication, negative health outcomes, and inadequate cultural competency have defined healthcare delivery for People of Color for many years. How Black Americans view their own health, however, differs. To gain a deeper understanding of Black Americans' views on health and well-being, ThinkNow and Quantasy + Associates conducted a multi-wave study on the current state of Black Americans. This wave's findings suggest Black health is more encouraging than the prevailing narrative implies.
While the disparities mentioned above are real, and the rate of uninsured Black adults is slightly higher than the general population, they are more likely to say they have the support they need to manage their health than non-Blacks (73% vs. 70%). In fact, Black Americans rate their current state of health on par with non-Black Americans. Seventy-nine percent believe their state of health is good compared to 76% of non-Blacks. Black Americans are also more likely to claim that being healthy is something they're intentional about, with 72% stating that being healthy is something they work hard at compared to 66% of non-blacks. Being healthy was also more likely to be mentioned as a life goal in this community, and that desire increases with education and income.
Black communities have strong cultural traditions of healing and wellness. The use of alternative and complementary medicine is popular regardless of income or health coverage status. When given a choice, 57% of Blacks prefer to use natural remedies over prescription medication compared to 49% of non-Blacks. This does not mean, however, that they aren't aware of prescription drug options since 63% state they pay attention to advertising about health and medications compared to 52% of non-Blacks.
Black men have some of the worst health indicators among racial and ethnic groups in America. They don't, however, view their own health negatively. Their positive attitude may be counter-productive since they're less likely to visit doctors than Black women. Fifty-three percent of Black men state that they only see doctors when they're sick vs. 43% of Black women. They are also more likely to state that good health runs in their family (57%) than Black women (38%). This optimism may influence their decisions on whether to seek the preventive or early care needed to improve health outcomes.
Black Americans are prioritizing their mental and emotional well-being. They are more likely than non-Blacks to "completely agree" that mental health is a significant part of overall health (58% vs. 50%), and Black women are especially attuned to the importance of mental health with 63% in complete agreement that it's significant. There also appears to be less stigma in seeking medical help for mental health issues with 48% of Black respondents stating they're comfortable doing so vs. 42% of Whites, 36% of Hispanics and 27% of Asians. Additionally, Blacks are more likely to state they know what they need to do to stay mentally healthy than non-Blacks.
Black Americans are on par with other segments in understanding the components of a healthy diet. Seventy-seven percent choose fruits and vegetables when looking for healthy food, which is the same percentage as non-Blacks. They are slightly less likely to go for 'low sugar or sugar-free' products, but they shift to this more with age. Younger generations were more inclined to look for fortified, keto or high protein, low carb, and plant-based/vegan products. Rates of exercise were also similar to non-Blacks though they are slightly less likely to do cardio exercise and slightly more likely to engage in team or competitive sports.
Despite prevailing systemic obstacles, the Black community is taking ownership of its health outcomes and seeking to stay healthy. Black Americans increasingly rely on natural and plant-based approaches to wellness, prioritizing mindfulness and valuing mental and spiritual well-being. Marketing to this segment should be grounded in these truths and focused on preserving health, which aligns with Black Americans' optimism, as much as preventing and treating illness. By listening to and embracing Black voices, we take a positive step toward achieving health equity in the U.S. that serves the entire community's needs.
The 2022 World Cup is scheduled to run from November 20th till December 18th. The tournament was moved from its usual June/July slot because of the intense summer heat in host-country Qatar. The temperature, however, is not the only heat surrounding the tournament. Human rights abuses by the firms building the stadiums and infrastructure to host the event have gotten as much, if not more, coverage than the qualifying matches that lead up to the tournament. Qatar's laws against homosexuality are also creating tension at a time when World Soccer is trying to become more inclusive.
These controversies, however, do not appear to have diminished fans' interest in the quadrennial event, especially here in the U.S., with athletes returning to the tournament after failing to qualify in 2018. This, along with an overall increase in interest in soccer in the U.S., will likely result in strong viewership. To gauge interest in the tournament and measure how the controversies might affect viewers' opinions of sponsors, we conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,550 respondents. We found that 44% of U.S. adults are either somewhat or very likely to view at least some matches. This is an improvement over the last time the U.S. qualified for the tournament, when 37% of respondents in our 2014 survey said they would be watching.
Download the report here.
As usual, Hispanics are the most likely to say they will tune in. Mexico's national team, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and (technically not Hispanic) Brazil, will be playing in the tournament. Those teams, along with Team USA, are expected to draw Hispanic viewers who would like to see the FIFA World Cup Trophy return to the Americas.
Forty percent of Millennials are soccer fans. They are twice as likely to be a soccer fan than Gen X and 25% more likely than Gen Z. Major league soccer matches in Atlanta, Seattle and Cincinnati regularly draw larger crowds than baseball games. Millennials are also the age group most likely to watch the World Cup.
When asked how they plan to watch, streaming edges out broadcast television by 52% to 48%. This holds true across racial groups, except for Hispanics who are slightly more likely to view on T.V. (56% vs 54%).
The only group to report a higher likelihood to watch games on regular T.V. over streaming are Baby Boomers at 69% vs. 34%. The rise in streaming's popularity is evident across all types of content. Sports, however, has been a holdout in that the major networks are generally viewed as the best place to view live events. However, the fact that the World Cup audience skews younger is bolstering streaming over broadcast. Fox Sports and Telemundo and their respective streams have the U.S. broadcast rights for the U.S. Likely viewers, however, are not yet aware of that since 52% of respondents said they would watch on ESPN vs. 35% on FOX and 21% on Telemundo.
Awarding the World Cup to Qatar has been controversial. Accusations of bribery being the reason the tournament was awarded and the fact that the country could not host the tournament in the summer because of excessive heat are concerning but their poor human rights record has garnered the most attention. Building the soccer stadiums in a country with summer highs of 108/109 °F and weak worker protections has caused the death of 6,500 foreign workers. Additionally, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and punishable by up to three years in prison and death under sharia law for Muslims. This has led some brands who normally sponsor the tournament to pull out of this year's event. Others have issued statements condemning the human rights abuses but have stopped short of pulling their sponsorship.
Fans, however, generally support brands that sponsor the World Cup. Fifty percent say that sponsorship positively impacts their impression of the brand while only 7% say sponsorship would negatively impact their opinion. Negative opinion towards sponsorship is in the single digits across all demos except for Gen Z. 22% of Gen Z say that sponsoring the World Cup this year would diminish their perception of a brand.
While controversy surrounds the 2022 Qatar World Cup, viewership in the U.S. is likely to remain strong and the potential for backlash against sponsoring brands will remain low. The fact that it will be played in the fourth quarter makes it difficult for brands to stay away since it's when most Holiday ad spending takes place. However, brands that choose to sponsor World Cup events this year should also demonstrate their support of the LGBTQ+ community and workers' rights to make it clear where they stand.
In a time when U.S. viewership of international sporting events like the Olympics is declining, more attention will be placed on the expanding World Cup audience. Americans will be tuning in, or more precisely, logging on. Brands that care about staying relevant need to be there with them.
Download the report here.
ThinkNow recently fielded a comprehensive quantitative study that compared attitudes and behaviors related to health and wellness among minority groups. After reviewing the survey results, I assumed I would write a blog about mental health issues impacting Black or Hispanic Americans. While there were certainly findings that I could have written about among those groups, the results that really struck me were specific to Asian Americans. The Asian American narrative usually revolves around the model minority myth promoting positive stories about education and financial success. However, mental health in the Asian community does not get as much press. The findings were eye-opening.
Statistically, Asian Americans are doing well collectively when it comes to educational and financial attainment. However, our data shows they lag other ethnic groups in seeking mental health services when needed.
Seeking help for oneself runs contrary to the collectivist ideal in Asian culture of placing the needs of others and society before one’s own. This is true in both East and South Asian cultures. The belief is so ingrained that some segments of the Asian American community, especially the foreign-born, don’t have the language to discuss mental health issues. They, instead, think of mental ailments as a physical condition without considering possible psychosocial origins. The concept of mental health was developed in the U.S. and Europe and mainly used western cultural concepts in diagnosis and treatment. The lack of connection to mental health awareness shows up in the data where most Asian Americans surveyed stated not perceiving mental health as a significant contributor to overall health and well-being.
Even when they recognize they might need help with mental health issues, Asian Americans are less likely to feel comfortable seeking that help.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among Asian American young adults ages 15-24. Asian youth can become overwhelmed by the expectations to succeed. Although the model majority myth may have its origins in Asian immigrants’ desire to succeed in the U.S., it is perpetuated in mainstream culture by teachers, business leaders, comedians, and the media. Asian students may perceive struggling with school pressures as letting both their parents and society down. Without good examples of what self-care looks like, fewer than 20% of Asian Americans know what to do to keep themselves mentally healthy.
Since fewer Asian Americans currently seek mental healthcare compared to other groups, they are less likely to see other people like them in places that could help them, such as student health centers or clinics. This inadvertently confirms their belief that they don’t belong there. Recognizing this disparity is the first step toward creating inviting spaces for Asian Americans to seek mental health services. Language is not as much of an issue for Asian youth but is a real barrier for older, foreign-born groups. Having in-language material and resources available can be lifesaving.
Training healthcare providers to recognize the additional barriers their Asian American patients may be experiencing can also help increase the uptake of services in this demographic group. Healthcare workers must be culturally competent, understanding the nuances impacting their Asian American patients’ decisions.
The model minority myth requires society at large to perpetuate it. Reflecting on our beliefs about what a scientist, artist or carpenter looks like can help open more doors for Asian Americans struggling to conform to certain ideals. Also, asking Asian Americans “where they’re from” is still far too common. What seems like an innocent question to get to know one better actually “others” that person for it makes assumptions about what an American should look like.
Finally, normalizing mental healthcare as something everyone in society can benefit from is vital. By sharing our own challenges, we can inspire Americans of all ethnic backgrounds to accept mental healthcare as an integral part of a well-rounded healthcare routine.
Keeping pace with culture can be challenging for brands. Consumer dynamics are evolving and becoming increasingly fluid, particularly around identity. Several factors influence how consumers see themselves and shape their attitudes, behaviors, preferences, and biases, including their heritage and culture. Through this lens, consumers make purchase decisions and establish brand affinities, requiring companies to develop a better understanding of the complexity of identity.
Multicultural consumers are often motivated by a desire to represent their culture in how they identify their race and ethnicity. In 2020, ThinkNow conducted a nationwide online survey among Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans ages 18 to 64 to understand how they prefer to identify themselves among peers and in marketing and media. This year, we conducted a follow-up study in which we found that the needle hadn’t moved much, with a few exceptions.
Download the report here.
In 2020, we found that the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino/Latina” were preferred by the majority of U.S. Latinos across different scenarios, in particular, when they or others (i.e., media, companies) referred to this population as a whole. That consensus holds in 2022, with the majority of Hispanics preferring the term “Hispanic” when used in most contexts, followed by “Latino(a).”
There was a noticeable shift in sentiment when respondents were asked about naming preferences “when describing yourself in a professional setting (job, interview, etc.).” In 2020, 36% preferred Hispanic and 26% preferred Latino(a). In 2022, 43% of Hispanics preferred “Hispanic” (increase), and 20% preferred “Latino(a),” a six-point decrease.
Interestingly, there is a five-point decrease in the use of the term “Latino(a)” when respondents were asked naming preferences “to use when describing or naming all people of Spanish or Latin American heritage in the U.S.,” from 30% to 25%.
Consistent with data reported in 2020, the term “Latinx” continues to exist in the margins. However, 3 out of 5 Hispanic adults have heard of the term, but it has yet to achieve broad adoption except among younger generations.
Among African Americans, we saw naming preferences become more nuanced. In 2020, 49% of African Americans preferred media, companies, and brands to refer to them as “African American,” and 33% said “Black,” accounting for 82% of respondents. This year, only 37% of African Americans prefer that companies, brands, and the media use the term “African American,” followed by “Black” (23%) and “Black American” (22%). While the total percentage of respondents is the same here, we saw an additional preference emerge not accounted for in 2020. While commonly used, the term “people of color” is not preferred in most cases.
Among Asian Americans in 2020, when asked about naming preferences “for the media/companies/brands to use when describing/naming,” 8% of respondents stated “My Country of Origin + American.” But in 2022, 14% held that preference. Very few Asian Americans prefer to solely be called “American.”
Across the three cohorts, the term “American” was among the least favored naming preferences indicating a desire among multicultural consumers to connect with their heritage. The onus is on media, companies, and brands to research to uncover cultural drivers underpinning multicultural identity and how these factors affect consumption habits.
Download the report here.
For decades, research has painted a picture of a Black America that is distrustful of the financial system, hesitant to adopt banking services, and resistant to guidance. While economic disparities and trust deficits exist, banking habits in the Black community are incredibly diverse. In this latest chapter of the Black Consumer Project, we look at how Black Americans manage money today.
A collaborative effort by ThinkNow and Quantasy + Associates, Black Consumer Project is an in-depth, multi-wave study of Black Americans' economic and cultural contributions. This community has more buying power than ever, and our goal is to uncover its unique perspectives, behaviors, and preferences.
Wave 1 of BCP explored Black Americans' core values, personal goals, layers of identity, and definitions of success. Wave 2 takes a deep dive into their banking behaviors, financial perceptions, and aspirations for the future.
Stream the Black Consumer Project - Financial Services online event here.
According to the 2020 Census, the Black population has increased by 5.6% over the past decade. Those who identify as Black in combination with another race group increased by 88.7%. The median household income (HHI) for Black Americans was $44,000 in 2019, meaning that just under half of all households (46%) earned more than $50,000 a year. Those earning more than $100,000 represent 18% of the overall Black population. Education has also increased significantly, with the population of those with a bachelor's degree (23%) doubling since 2010. With a population of 46.9 million, Black Americans wield an impressive $1.4 trillion in buying power.
During the first wave, we discovered that Black Americans' definition of success isn't tied to money. Living a healthy lifestyle, owning a business, and giving back to the community ranked higher when compared to non-Black ethnic groups. In this second wave, we explore the relationship between the Black community and finance to better understand current behaviors and aspirations for their financial futures.
The Black Consumer Project Wave 2 launches Tuesday, July 12th with an online streaming event featuring Quantasy + Associates' Melanie Williams and ThinkNow's Roy Eduardo Kokoyachuk, who'll dive into the data. A panel discussion featuring Jordan Awoye, Managing Partner of Awoye Capital, DonYe Taylor, Creator and Cultural Strategist, and Sheros Thomas, Trustee Bankston Farms, V.P., Group Director at Quantasy + Associates, will follow moderated by Julian Mitchell, Advisor and Journalist.
Stream the Black Consumer Project Wave 2 – Financial Services here.