This week on In Black America, producer and host John L. Hanson, Jr. discusses the economic power and influence of the African American community the economy and pop culture, an across industries and digital platforms with Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights and Engagement with the Nielsen Corporation.
This week on In Black America, producer and host John L. Hanson, Jr. speaks with Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement with the Nielsen Company, discussing the cultural and technological influences behind the global proliferation of African American creativity in the entertainment industry.
This week on In Black America, producer and host John L. Hanson, Jr. speaks with Cheryl Grace, Nielsen’s Senior Vice President of Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, and co-creator of the 2019 Diverse Intelligence Series Report on African Americans.
Announcer [00:00:15] From the University of Texas at Austin, KUT Radio, this is In Black America.
Cheryl Grace [00:00:23] Well, actually, in 2011, so about six years after I joined the company, I was heading up the communications for our global, what we call CPG division, consumer packaged goods division, which is, you know, where people buy the retailers, where they buy their groceries, the manufacturers that make all fast consumable goods. And I saw all of this data coming across my desk about multicultural consumers. And I knew I wasn’t aware of the power that we had. So I just assumed that the general population and our clients were also not aware of this. And so tossed around and started working with some analysts. And we pulled together the first report on the African-American consumer that kind of talked about what we watch, what we buy and and why we watch and buy what we do.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:01:19] Cheryl Grace, Nielsen’s senior vice president of Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement and co-creator of the 2019 diverse intelligence series report on African-Americans. At 47.8 million strong and a buying power that’s on par with many countries gross domestic products, African-Americans continue to outpace spending nationally. This year’s report title is in the Bag. Black Consumers Path to Purchase focused on assisting brands and marketers understand the multifaceted process that African-Americans take to buy products. There were several drive as well. Culture is at the center of them all. Also, their love for technology make African-Americans more savvy and conscious consumers. The report highlights several differences in shopping, behavior and purchasing when compared to the total U.S. population. I’m John L. Hanson Jr. And welcome to another edition of In Black America on this weeks’ program, It’s In the Bag Black Consumers Path to Purchase with Cheryl Grace, Neilson’s Senior Vice President of Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement In Black America.
Cheryl Grace [00:02:29] So what we included in this year’s report was what the African-American focused media spend is for, like how much money companies are spending on the different platforms. And you would think, given the fact that African-Americans watch so much TV that the ad spend would be comparable, but it’s not is actually at odds with our consumption habits, which is fair to say. There has been a decline year over year. So cable television had a 1% decline, digital advertising had a 12% decline, national magazines had a 9% decline, network TV had a 13% decline, but Radio 4% and syndicated TV had 11% decline. So across the board, the platforms that are focused on African American media saw decline. And that’s that’s not good.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:03:27] According to Nielsen’s latest report on African-American spending, African-Americans want more for themselves. And from corporate America, the report title is in the bag. Black Consumers Path to Purchase revealed that African-Americans are more likely than the total population to agree that advertising provides meaningful information on most platforms. But advertising dollars designed to reach African-American swimmers declined by $1 billion between 2017 and 2018. Nielsen’s 2019 Diverse Intelligence series report on African-Americans also include deeper insight into how culture, socioeconomic and business influence, how, why and what motivate African-American spending. In addition, African-Americans outspent the total market on personal soap and their products by nearly 19%. That’s $573.6 million recently. And Black America spoke of show Grace Nielsen, senior vice president of Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement and co-creator of the DIS Report.
Cheryl Grace [00:04:37] I live in Chicago. I was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I’ve been in Chicago since I graduated from college. So that’s actually longer now than when I lived in my hometown.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:04:50] And what college did you attend?
Cheryl Grace [00:04:52] Purdue University for? My undergrad.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:04:54] Oh, so you didn’t stray too far from home?
Cheryl Grace [00:04:56] No, I did not. I did not.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:04:59] What brought you to the Nielsen Company?
Cheryl Grace [00:05:01] Whoa. So in 2004, when I joined the company, they were experiencing a little bit of unsettledness, if you will, with the African-American and Latino population. And there was an assertion being put forth that Nielsen wasn’t accurately measuring people of color, which was not true. And I actually had experience working for a television station, local NBC affiliate in Chicago, and I also had community organizing background and a background in working in politics because I had worked as the press secretary for the Chicago city treasurer. And so they were looking for a person with those qualifications specifically to kind of help them navigate establishing a community relations and government relations department. And so I joined at that time.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:05:58] What brought Nielsen to the point where it thought it needed to produce these reports?
Cheryl Grace [00:06:05] Well, actually, in 2011, so about six years after I joined the company, I was heading up the communications for our global, what we call CPG division, consumer packaged goods division, which is, you know, where people buy the retailers, where they buy their groceries, the manufacturers that make all fast consumable goods. And I saw all of this data coming across my desk about multicultural consumers. And I knew I wasn’t aware of the power that we had. So I just assumed that the general population and our clients were also not aware of this and so talked around and started working with some analysts. And we put together the first report on the African-American consumer that kind of talked about what we watch, what we buy in and why we watch and buy what we do. And it was such a success. That first report, it actually won a number of awards that the company stepped back and said, hey, maybe we should take a look at consumers who are Asian American and Latin American as well. And but the diverse intelligence series of reports were born. And now we put forth at least three or four reports every single year on some of those diverse communities.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:07:26] Why is this information significant?
Cheryl Grace [00:07:29] It’s really important because particularly multicultural consumers are rapidly growing. Our purchasing power is rapidly growing right now collectively. African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans have over 3.2 $3.4 trillion of purchasing power. When you combine all of it and that’s like if we were a GDP, there are only four countries in the entire world who would have economies that are larger than that, and that would be the United States. It would be China. It would be Japan and it would be Germany. And so you cannot overlook that type of tremendous power. And we need not only for our brands and clients and marketers to understand and value diversity when it comes to consumer and our consumption habits and behaviors. We also need the consumers who are making these decisions to understand what their power is so that they can use it accordingly.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:08:37] How did you go about developing the metrics to measure?
Cheryl Grace [00:08:42] You know, Nielsen measures what consumers watch, what consumers by, what consumers listen to. And what we do is we just simply pull together a lot of the information that we’ve already collected, but we vary with a different lens. So we very strategically pull out the information on African-American consumers for the African-American report. So it’s information that we’re already gathering. We just put it in a consolidated place so that we have access and we can provide that to our clients and to consumers.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:09:14] When you looked at the numbers and we’re going to talk about, you know, some of the numbers up in the conversation, did you have any aha moments from this report, from the one that you first did in 2011?
Cheryl Grace [00:09:28] Yeah. So I think the biggest shift there were two for me that I’m starting to see from a trend perspective, and I’ve been doing this report for nine years now. I can say that the biggest shift I’ve seen over the last few years was in how differently the top 20 programs are that African-Americans are watching versus non-Hispanic whites. And what we have seen is historically there have been overlapping in content from what Blacks are watching to what the total market is watching. Generally, about 40, 50% of an overlap. This year, we saw a lot less of that. So with Blacks who are 18 to 34, there were only like two shows that. They watch that the total market is also watching. And that was Empire and a show called 911 on Fox. And when you’re looking at Blacks, 35 and over, there were only four shows out of the 20 that crossover. This is us Chicago P.D., FBI and Manifest. So for me, that’s significant because it says that if you build it or rather produce it, they will come. And when Blacks have choices about what they want to see, they’re going to turn to the shows that have cast and characters who look like them. It used to be that we would see we were tuning in to shows that had diversity, but especially for 18 to 34 year olds, their shows are almost all exclusively African-American cast. Not 100%, but but primarily Black. And so that’s been the biggest shift that I’ve seen. I’ve also seen this shift when it comes to viewing. And we watch a lot of television, by the way, we watch more than 50 hours a week of television. We’re watching, I think it’s close to 57 hours a week, watching about 11 hours more than the total population watches. And when you take a look at the differences between the viewing habits, I think a lot of it is being driven now by people having options to network and cable shows. So now they’ve got the streaming choices and those streaming services are really providing a lot of diverse content. So the network and the cable providers have to keep up. So that’s why you’re starting to see a lot of changes on TV is driving a lot of the interest for adults 35 plus and for those 18 to 34 year olds. VH one is is nailing it. VH one has so many of the love and hip hop franchises that pop up on that top 20 list. But for 18 to 34 year olds are really into reality television. Surprised.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:12:26] Alastair? As a television viewer myself, I should be watching the program for entertainment purposes. But I’m also watching it to see what commercials are being shown in that vein. Does the viewership of that particular program dictate the type of commercials that are going to be shown or shown for that particular program?
Cheryl Grace [00:12:53] So what we included in this year’s report was what the African-American focused media spend is for, like how much money companies are spending on the different platforms. Right. And you would think, given the fact that African-Americans watched so much TV, that the ad spend would be comparable, but it’s not is actually at odds with our consumption habits, which is sad to say. So there has been a decline year over year. So cable television had a 1% decline. Digital advertising had a 12% decline. National magazines had a 9% decline. Network TV had a 13% decline. Radio 4% and syndicated TV had 11% decline. So across the board, the platforms that are focused on African-American media saw decline. And that’s that’s not good because radio. 92% of all Blacks watch. I’m sorry listen to radio in any given week. And so that’s the number one way to reach African-Americans. But still, we’re seeing the decline in radio. We’re seeing a decline in television. It’s just not it’s not adding up.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:14:10] Was there any indication of advertising towards the four or five African-American cable channels that we have be TV?
Cheryl Grace [00:14:22] I did not pool the specific programs or networks where the ads were dedicated this year, unfortunately. Okay. Something I can look into. But we didn’t pull those numbers this year.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:14:34] Why is it important? And I’m looking at the report that cultural has significant place in what African-Americans purchase.
Cheryl Grace [00:14:45] Well, you know, advertising in particular resonates with African-Americans. And we are not as averse to having ads, for example, pop up on our mobile phones. But we find that ads resonate with us. And there’s a certain reason why. So like 51% of Blacks say that a celebrity endorsement may influence them to consider or buy a product. So. Celebrities are really important. I love keeping up with celebrity news and gossip. 44% of Blacks say that when a celebrity designs a product, I’m more likely to buy it. 35% of Blacks say that. And I’m influenced by what’s hot and what’s not. 33% of Blacks agree with that statement. These are like relevant because we again, we want to see ads that reflect people who look like us. But we also have this admiration for celebrities. And Blacks are actually considered to be very cool, if you will. And we’re trendsetters. And so what you find is that when you’re marketing and using African-American celebrities, not only does that appeal to African-Americans, it also appeals to all of the other demographics as well. I think it’s 76% of of Caucasians and 67% of Hispanics say that they think blacks drive pop culture. And so when you’re marketing to us, you kind of get a bonus in that other cultures are following our trends. So something that happens with us in our communities generally, six months to a year, you start to see it happening across other communities as well. So we’re definitely trendsetters.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:16:37] If you’re just joining us, I’m John L. Hanson Jr and you’re listening to In Black America from KUT Radio. I’m speaking with Cheryl Grace, senior vice president of Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement and co-creator of Nielsen’s 2019 Diverse intelligence series Report on African-Americans. Miss Grace, I live in Dallas, and for the life of me, I see a lot of African-Americans driving high end in cars. And I’m looking at this report and it says Blacks are 20% more likely than the population to pay extra for products that is consistent with the image, but also to shop at high end stores. So we like the good stuff.
Cheryl Grace [00:17:20] We actually. Oh, definitely. Image is everything for African-Americans. And you think about it. It is what we are projecting and who we present to the world and who we are is very important to our our our integrity. Right. And some of that can be tracked and traced back to some of the problems that we’ve had historically where we haven’t been valued or we’ve been pushed aside or we haven’t been respected in terms of what we bring to the table. So image means a lot and you know what you mean. In Dallas, it was interesting to me to note that Texas has become the number one state with the highest buying power for Americans. So that’s why you’re seeing all those fancy cars. And it’s also the number one state with the highest population of Blacks. Most of that is in the Dallas and Houston.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:18:22] Houston.
Cheryl Grace [00:18:23] Markets. Yeah, but I, I found that really very interesting that Texas. People are moving to Texas.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:18:30] Yes. Yes, they are. Miss Grace, how has online purchasing affected African-American buying power overall than going to the store in person?
Cheryl Grace [00:18:42] So that was also something that was a bit interesting in this report, because this report, which we we named the, um. It’s in the bag. Mm hmm. Black consumers path to purchase. What we specifically talk about in this report is how Black people decide to buy what they buy. Okay. And so the steps that they they take to lead up to making a purchase, those pre-purchased influencers, and then what happens when they’re at the point of purchase, at the point of sale, if you will? And one of the things that I felt was interesting was that when you think about the in-store experience, 52% of Blacks say that the physical shopping experience is relaxing to them, and that outpaces the total population by 26%. A lot of us find it very relaxing just to be in a store, a brick and mortar environment and Blacks are impacted in-store by things like in-store personnel. So please don’t follow me around the store and I’ll have a better experience while I’m there. What the in-store advertisement looks like and merchandizing. So we actually, you know, enjoy being in the store. Now, that’s not to say that we don’t also like to buy things online. 41% of our cosmetics sales come from drugstores. So again, that’s in the in the store. But a lot of baby items we’re purchasing online. So baby wipes and baby bath. We also purchased nutritional shakes, more likely with Bibles online sports, nutrition and vitamins like those are types of things that we’re buying online, but we still enjoy the in-store experience.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:20:30] I found it interesting that you all these reports say that Proctor and Gamble is the largest advertiser in African-American media.
Cheryl Grace [00:20:38] It is. Yes, it is.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:20:40] So they’re giving in and the others aren’t or. What’s the equation
Cheryl Grace [00:20:45] Well, we list the top 20. Okay. Advertisers in the report. We’ve got a list of the top 20 of advertisers that are spending money in the community. So Procter and Gamble is number one. Berkshire Hathaway, Pfizer, AT&T and GlaxoSmithKline are the top five advertisers out of a list of 20 that are literally making a commitment to spend money with Black.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:21:12] I found it interesting. And just looking in my pantry, Quaker Grits Louisiana Fried Fish will fix the fish with and glory greens. It’s amazing that these particular products mirror what I would assume a lot of African-American plus myself have in their pantry.
Cheryl Grace [00:21:36] Yeah. So, you know, there are certain areas. It sounds like you’ve got all this Southern cooking thing going on with the grits and the catfish and, you know, and greens. So those are we gave in the report a list of the top five grocery products that Blacks are spending the most on. And so we’re spending about $19 million a year on Quaker quick grits. So you didn’t say whether or not your grits were quick or not? I am.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:22:07] I think they are. They are. Right. It’s less than five. No more than 5 minutes. I guess they quick.
Cheryl Grace [00:22:14] Those are the points we had because, you know, grits can take a while to make.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:22:17] Yes. They can.
Cheryl Grace [00:22:19] And so we’re spending about 19 million on quick grits a year versus 2.6 million on on the regular cooking grits for Quaker. And then there’s another 11 million that we’re spending on Louisiana fish fry coding mix. So, you know, you would coat your fish with.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:22:38] You able to get it right?
Cheryl Grace [00:22:40] Yeah. And then glory greens you know about 7 million on that and Jay’s potato chips are spending about 2.7 million on Jay’s potato chips. So there are certain brands that we are spending our money on. I think it’s also interesting that there are two types of categories. The top five categories that we’re spending our dollars on was very interesting. The number one item that we’re spending the most money on from a grocery related item. Mm hmm. Can you guess what it is? Or if you read the report you already know.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:23:12] Already know for go ahead and tell the audience.
Cheryl Grace [00:23:14] It’s dish detergent.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:23:16] Exactly.
Cheryl Grace [00:23:17] We’re spending almost $1,000,000,000 on this detergent.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:23:21] Is it a particular brand? Is Dawn leading all of that collectively? That’s correct.
Cheryl Grace [00:23:26] Yeah, that’s across all brands. And so, you know, we make up about 14% of the population here in the United States. And our percent of the spin for this detergent is kind of in sync with that. We spend about 14.8% of all this detergent that’s purchased by African-Americans. So what I thought was interesting is that we’re spending we’re 19% of the total spend for things like personal soap and bath needs, where we’re spending about a half billion dollars, 574 million on personal soap and bath needs. We really it goes back to that whole image thing where we really want to make sure that we’re presenting ourselves to the world in a positive way.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:24:10] I understand this is a rhetorical question, Miss Grace, but do corporations and brands just take African-American consumers for granted? And as that they feel that they don’t have to advertise to us, we’re going to buy it anyway?
Cheryl Grace [00:24:25] Well, it’s a great question. I wouldn’t say that it’s even rhetorical. It’s a valid question. What I think some brands make a mistake in doing is assuming that because there are no language barriers, that they don’t have to develop ads specifically for us. And where those brands were, they are missing the mark is how important culture is to us. So you could have a generic ad and drop a Black person, African-American person into that ad. But if it doesn’t have a cultural nuance or relevance to me, I may not even pay attention to that ad. So I think that’s where some brands are making their mistakes, is that they’re not focused on connecting with us culturally, which takes us back. To the conversation we were having earlier about the importance of celebrities. And, you know, if I know somebody who looks like me is a spokesperson for this product, then I’m going to spend my money with that product because that person understands who I am in theory.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:25:31] Got you. Few more questions Miss Grace, when you look at your circle of friends and family, do they, as far as their purchasing power, buy in to what these numbers indicate?
Cheryl Grace [00:25:44] So when you say buy into, what do you mean?
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:25:46] They they are reflective of what you all came up with as far as what African-American consumers purchase and feel that they need to have as part of the psyche when they go out to purchase items.
Cheryl Grace [00:26:00] So I think what’s great about the information that we pool is, is that it’s based on samples of the overall population. So of the 46, 47 million Blacks in the United States, we have a sample of that population that gives us a great indicator indication, rather, of what the total population is doing. And so, yeah, I, I, I find that if you were taking Glory greens, for example, we have glory greens in our pantry, but we also have fresh greens and sometimes.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:26:34] Right, exactly. Exactly right.
Cheryl Grace [00:26:36] So it’s not Glory exclusively. So yeah, I would say so.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:26:41] When you look at these reports, what are some of the, some of the shortcomings that advertisers are making and really need to pay attention to if they’re going to have longevity in whatever industry they’re participating in.
Cheryl Grace [00:26:58] So I think it’s really important to follow the cultural nuances, what Blacks are trending towards. I think it’s important not to get on the wrong side of African-Americans, especially now that we are very proficient in engaging socially on social media. So, you know, Facebook is where you’re going to find the most Blacks who are 18 and over with 65.7% of us on Facebook. But Instagram, because we’re so young, our population tends to be younger than the total population. You’ve got 54.7% of all Blacks on Instagram.
John L. Hanson Jr. [00:27:38] Cheryl Grace, Neilson’s, Senior Vice president of Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement and co-creator of the 2019 Diverse Intelligence series Report on African-Americans. If you have questions, comments or suggestions as to the future in Black America programs, email us at InBlack America@kut.org. Also, let us know what radio station you heard is over. Remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. The views and opinions expressed on this program are not necessarily those of the station or of the University of Texas at Austin. You can hear previous programs online at kut.org. Until we have the opportunity again for technical producer David Alvarez, I’m John L. Hanson Jr. Thank you for joining us today. Please join us again next week.