African Americans represent the largest minority group in the United States. Research has shown that African Americans spend a considerably amount of their discretionary income on travel, and respond best to marketing programs that are tailored specifically to them.
While there is limited research on African American travel patterns, this review suggest that organizations such as The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism would have a competitive advantage in targeting this growing lucrative segment.
Below is a brief overview which identifies specific cultural appeals that are important when targeting this audience, including demographics, their purchasing power, their travel patterns and how they can be targeted.
U.S. Census Bureau (2000) revealed that the nation?s African American population totaled an estimated 35.5 million or 13% of the total U.S. population. According to projections, the African American population could rise to 47.1 million by 2005; its share of the total population under this scenario would increase slightly to 14%. The African American population is young, with an estimated median age of 30.4 years, more than five years younger than the median U.S. population as a whole.
Marketers are becoming increasingly interested in targeting this group, which for various reasons was previously ignored. U.S. Census Bureau (1999) found that the median income among African American households was $27,910 and was the highest ever recorded. While most African Americans make and spend less than the average American household, there is an emerging middle and upper class with large discretionary incomes. Their purchase decisions boost black household expenditures above the average for numerous goods and services. This is the group within this segment that will be targeted.
The U.S. Census Bureau (2000) showed that the majority of African Americans 54% lived in the south followed by the northeast 19%, and the west 8%. There was no statistical difference between the percentages living in the northeast and the Midwest. The 1990?s saw a significant shift in the movement of African Americans, from the industrial cities of the north to metropolitan areas of the south and west. This is in contrast to the post World War II exodus from the south to Northeast and Midwest cities.
Metro Atlanta is emerging as the new heart of the nation?s black middle class, surpassing the traditional center Washington D.C. Among major metropolitan areas, Atlanta had the fastest growth in the proportion of black households in the middle-and upper-income brackets during the 1990?s with an income of $35,000 to $75,000.
Demographic information is important in targeting African Americans so that marketing campaigns can be specifically aimed at the appropriate subsets within this group, in areas where they can be reached. There are significant numbers of African Americans, primarily in the south, with disposable incomes that can be targeted for travel to The Bahamas.
The African American family differs from mainstream families in many ways. Females dominate this market segment. African American females outnumber African American males 16.1 million to 14.6 million. Additionally, 44% of all African American families are headed by single females. Black females, therefore, greatly influence purchase decisions. This fact creates nuances that are important to understand and consider when targeting this segment.
The backbone of the African American community is the extended family. African Americans tend to rely on family members and relatives to care for their children rather then formal day-care programs. A significant number of children live with grandparents. Additionally, middle-class members of this segment often continue to live with relatives, which allow them to have more discretionary income than white consumers with comparable income levels.
It is estimated that more than half of the African American population are church members. Black Christians are concentrated in seven predominantly black denominations with over one million each. The Baptist denomination has more members than all others combined.
Religion plays a very important role in African American culture. Black churches were first organized by slaves, after they were denied the opportunity to participate as equals in the religious life and other institutions of white society. Black churches became safe havens from the pain and strife of life in the outside world, agencies for advocating social change in race relations, sponsors of educational institutions, social welfare agencies and a source of social cohesion. African American ministers became leaders of the civil rights movement, which continues to have a religious base today. Religion is the most well organized institution in the African American culture.
African American buying power is estimated to be in excess of $550 billion. Research shows that this segment spends more than any other group on personal care and clothing, and that personal appearance, image and name brand products are important. Their spending is significantly lower than average, however, on items such as housing, appliances, furnishings, home maintenance, repairs and insurance.
Targeting African American Travellers
African Americans contribute nearly $30 billion annually to the U.S. travel industry. Cognizant of this fact, travel related companies and organizations are now beginning to target the lucrative African American market. American Airlines? Partners Program encourages African Americans and other minority corporations, travel agencies, and meeting planners to use their airline by awarding nonprofit and professional organizations credits when members use them. This tracking method provides additional accurate demographic and psychographics data useful to further analyze this market.
Destinations are also interested in specifically targeting this segment. Bermuda and Jamaica Tourist Departments have expanded their marketing and advertising programs designed specifically to attract African Americans.
Radio is the primary source of news and entertainment within the African American communities and is the strongest media for reaching this segment. African American radio stations have strong ties with their communities and impressive merchandising capabilities. However, African Americans also consult mainstream media for specific news and information.
A study conducted by the Travel Industry Association (TIA) on the travel patterns of African Americans, noted the following significant facts about African American travelers: ? When compared to the total U.S. population, African Americans are more likely to travel longer distances from home, 932 miles compared to the average 814 miles for adults in general. ? African Americans visit friends and family. ? This segment travels primarily in groups. ? This is an event driven market. ? The south Atlantic and the Western states are preferred destinations.
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