15th Annual Edition
'Buying Power of Black America' report breaks down billions in expenditures

Black consumers are responding to tighter economic condition by focusing more of their spending on items and services that improve their homes and lifestyle. That's one of the trends revealed in the 15th annual report, "The Buying Power of Black America," published by Target Market News. The report analyzes spending for black households in 2008 and finds that African-Americans...
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 Black Stats  
Frequently requested data on African American consumers

Black Buying Power:
 $803 Billion (2008)

Black U.S. Population:
 41.1 million

Top Five Black Cities
 - New York
 - Chicago
 - Detroit
 - Philadelphia
 - Houston

Top Five Black Metros:
 - New York-New Jersey
 - Washington-Baltimore
 - Chicago-Gary
 - Los Angeles
 - Philadelphia

Top Five Expenditures:
 - Housing $166.3 bil.
 - Food $65.3 bil.
 - Cars/Trucks $31.5 bil.
 - Clothing $26.9 bil.
 - Health Care $23.9 bil.

Click here for more stats from "The Buying Power of Black America."
Get quick access to key
U.S. Census 
Bureau Data

Click here to go to African-American Census Bureau data


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BET Networks President Scott Mills reflects on 30 years of change at the company

By Jon Friedman

(June 23, 2010) ) BET President Scott Mills, a naturally enthusiastic man who can talk from sun to sun about his cable television outfit, needed only seven words to sum up the 30-year-old network's strategy.

"You live and die by what resonates," Mills told me.

As Mills smiled contentedly, for a moment I couldn't quite figure out whether he was making a commentary on BET's programming progress today or pondering the station's outdated image as a purveyor of music videos. Maybe it's really just one and the same.

BET, the dominant African-American media brand, is a force by any measure. Its primary channel reaches more than 90 million households in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Its other operations include BET.com, Centric (a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25-to-54 age group), and Digital Networks.

Forging a connection
Once, when BET was intent on forging a connection with its viewers, it relied heavily on music videos to create an identity. Some critics, however, charged that some of the videos shown on BET -- a familiar acronym for Black Entertainment Television -- reflected immorality. That was then.

Now, at BET, the mantra might well be "mainstream." Today, about 15% of BET's content involves music videos, Mills noted.

When BET conducted a survey among its audience, it polled 80,000 people to find out what viewers cared about. "The one universal theme was the importance of family," Mills said.

The findings reinforced BET's conviction that it was essential to provide programming that can appeal to any member of the family, such as "Sunday Best," "The Mo'Nique Show" and "The Family Crews." See the BET website.

BET's mission is to "reflect, respect and elevate our (audience)" Mills said.

Making progress
BET is undeniably making progress, underscored by Starbucks' decision to advertise on BET. Snagging a major advertiser like Starbucks highlights BET's progress.

The network was launched in January 1980 by former lobbyist Robert Johnson. He received a loan for $15,000, and also obtained a $500,000 investment from cable magnate John Malone.

BET became a 24-hour channel in 1983, and then made history in 1991, as the first black-controlled entity listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Johnson, who had a controlling stake in BET, sold it to Viacom for some $3 billion about a decade ago

"The biggest challenge facing any niche channel is how to go narrow and deep enough to serve the core audience yet expand enough at the edges to get new viewers without alienating the stalwarts," pointed out Jonathan Wald, former senior vice president of CNBC. "It's the same issue faced by BET and CNN: serve the loyal audience yet grow it without turning loyal viewers off."

It's a balancing act, all right. But Mills bristled slightly when I suggested that an emphatic shift to occupy the mainstream might detract from BET's ability to present daring programming.

"It's not that we can't be edgy," Mills said, "but we have to represent African-Americans."

BET has to please another entity, beyond its niche audience. Its corporate parent Viacom is a global media conglomerate. Viacom has dedicated itself to attracting very large groups of viewers through such focused cable TV offerings as MTV, VH-1 and Nickelodeon.

Mills is confident that BET can retain its individuality and not be viewed by its audience as a tool of a large media corporation. It would seem as if BET has the best of all worlds as a focused cable network that happens to be supported by a large and powerful parent.

Ultimately, BET will have to continue to refine its strategy to adjust to changing times in terms of demographics, audience tastes, technology and other factors. Mills is aware that it is essential to be able to make changes on the fly.

The best strategy for long-term success is to always ask "is there a better way to do this?" Wald said, adding:

"The challenge for executives is to run any niche channel like it's a startup -- even if it's been around as long as BET. If you are constantly trying to own your area of expertise, represent the interest of the core viewer, and try new things at the same time, you will see your audience grow rather than shrink. If you build it, they will come."

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2010 MAAX Awards winners to be honored June 29th in Chicago

Target Market News will honor the recipients of the 2010 Marketing to African Americans with Excellence [MAAX] Awards on Tuesday, June 29th at the Wyndham Hotel in Chicago. The awards program annually recognizes the contributions, innovations and exceptional performance of African American professionals in the fields of marketing, advertising, media, public relations and consumer research. This year' honorees are:

Advertising Executive of the Year
Fay Ferguson
Burrell Communications

Advertising Executive of the Year
McGhee Williams Osse
Burrell Communications

Media Executive  of the Year
Debra L. Lee
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer,
BET Networks

Research Executive of the Year
Marilyn E. Stephens
Assistant Regional Census Manager
U.S. Census Bureau

Marketing Executive of the Year
Rob Jackson
Marketing Director,
McDonald's USA

Public Relations Executive of the Year
Wynona Redmond
President, National Black Public Relations Society

Lifetime Achievement Award
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
Founder and President, Rainbow PUSH Coalition

Lifetime Achievement Award
Earl G. Graves, Sr.
Chairman and Publisher
Earl G. Graves Ltd., Black Enterprise Magazine

Lifetime Achievement Award
Lerone Bennett, Jr.
Historian and Author,
Former Executive Editor of
Ebony Magazine

A limited number of tickets are still available for the MAAX Awards dinner at $150 per person. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Click here to purchase tickets online.

 $100 Discount Extended!