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U.S. Census Bureau
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 Black Stats          
Frequently requested data on African American consumers

Black Buying Power:
  $744 Billion (2006)

Black U.S. Population:
  38.3 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 $121.6 bil.
 - Food $59.2 bil.
 - Cars/Trucks $32.1 bil.
 - Clothing $27.7 bil.
 - Health Care $17.8 bil.

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Louisiana firm turns black consumer marketing effort into college outreach program

By Ronette King
The Times-Picayune

(July 26, 2009) What began 10 years ago as an effort by McIlhenny Co. to reach out to African-American consumers has evolved into an educational program that has given dozens of Louisiana college students hands-on training in corporate marketing.

"Tabasco University: Promoting Education and Research" is a collaboration between several historically black Louisiana universities and the New Iberia (La.) company that makes Tabasco brand pepper sauce. Through the program, undergraduate marketing students create Tabasco marketing campaigns while serving as ambassadors for the brand on their campuses.

The program was launched in 1999 after McIlhenny executives realized that the company's products, though stocked at Buckingham Palace and in pantries around the globe, were considered "too hot" by many in the African-American community, said Ron Thompson of Beuerman Miller Fitzgerald, a New Orleans marketing firm that works with the company.

The program's inaugural year was set up as a competition between marketing students at Grambling State University in north Louisiana and Xavier University in New Orleans. The students were asked to use a hypothetical budget to create a campaign promoting Tabasco as the pepper sauce of choice in African-American homes.

"We wanted to engage the students as consumers and ask them what they knew about the brand," said Martin Manion, vice president of marketing at McIlhenny. The program marked the first time the company had participated in a grass-roots effort and engaged college interns.

Over the years, the program has expanded to include Dillard University and Southern University in Baton Rouge.

The task for the interns is the same each year: how better to turn a product created in 1868 in rural Louisiana into something chic and cool enough for the college set weaned on product-placement and slick merchandising.

At each participating university, two interns are chosen by their academic advisers to create a Tabasco marketing plan. They then travel to the company's headquarters at Avery Island, where they meet with CEO Paul McIlhenny, tour the plant, and present their marketing plans to McIlhenny executives. They're then sent into the field, or in this case, their respective campuses.

The students put Tabasco on stage at fraternity and sorority events, offer Tabasco merchandise prizes during basketball half-times and conduct taste tests during major campus events.

The interns -- usually juniors and seniors -- are paid for their part-time, on-campus work. Their advisers are given an honorarium as well, and the company donates money to campus marketing clubs since those students help the interns with their promotions.

One idea generated by the student interns led to a promotion that McIlhenny began using for the general public. In 2003, McIlhenny teamed up with Pizza Hut on a Cajun Meat Lovers promotion that called for placing minibottles of Tabasco in the box with each pie sold.

"With the bread and cheese and sauce, pizza is a perfect entry food for us," Manion said.

According to Thompson, the promotion was one of the highest sales volume promotions local Pizza Hut franchisees had ever done.

But McIlhenny gets more than new ideas from the college students it works with. The company also gets a glimpse of the taste preferences of their next generation of consumers. A survey conducted by Xavier marketing students revealed that the spices and flavors that African-Americans use today are almost 90 percent of what Mom and Grandma used, according to Joe Ricks, a Xavier University marketing professor who has worked with the program since its inception.

"If they can get this group to start using Tabasco, what it suggests is that tradition will continue throughout their family life," he said. "If you get them now, you get a family of users."

Ten years into the program, Ricks has been asked by the McIlhenny company to quantify the results of the promotional efforts.

"With the amount of exposure you're having, you would expect some increase in brand recognition, product knowledge," Ricks said. "It's important to give your partners in the community some value and be able to document that value."

A few years ago, McIlhenny took another step in its effort to reach out to African-American consumers by targeting a place where people and food connect: the church community. The company published a cookbook featuring recipes collected from nine African-American congregations in the state, all using Tabasco sauces. "Many of these recipes had never been written down, just passed from one generation to the next," Thompson said. In fact, McIlhenny had a home economist work with the recipe creators to quantify combinations usually conveyed as a pinch or a dash.

The first printing of "The Flavor of the Family Cookbook" was 2,500 copies and was followed by a second printing of twice as many. The cookbooks sell for $7.50 by the churches and in the McIlhenny stores and online. The proceeds go to the churches, Thompson said.

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Tracing the Hip-Hop Generation's Impact on Brands, Sports, & Pop Culture

By Erin O. Patten

Hip-Hop culture has had a profound impact on marketing in the past two decades and it provided an intersection for brands, sports, and popular culture. Erin O. Patton documents this impact in his new book, Under the Influence--Tracing the Hip-Hop Generation's Impact on Brands, Sports, & Pop Culture. 

Adam Graves, senior vice president of Deutsch Advertising says of Under the Influence and Patton: "If there are any marketers out there that still think they can ignore the urban market they'd better think again...This isn't just a book for so-called urban marketers; this should be mandatory reading for every marketer in the country."

Click here to order