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Black women use consumer technology for empowerment By David Ho
Cox News Service
(July 30, 2008) Black women are more likely than other female consumers
to spend time using technology, and they view cell phones and the
Internet as tools of empowerment and self-expression, a study finds.
Compared to other women, five times as many black women -- 36 percent --
use cell phones for three or more hours a day, according to research by
Time Inc.'s Essence magazine. Black women also spend more extended time
using iPods, computers, high-definition TVs and DVD players.
The findings defy an image of technology consumers focused on young men,
said Carmen Bryant, director of consumer research for Essence.
"All women use technology to gain control in their lives," Bryant said.
But, she said, African-American women also use technology as "a way to
empower themselves to move forward."
"They like to show their mastery of technology," she said. "They are
going to use it to help them stay active and achieving."
Black women also see technology as a way to express style and
personality, Bryant said.
The survey found 42 percent of black women reported spending $100 to
$499 or more on cell phones compared to 26 percent of other women.
Black women also embrace new mobile technology, with 21 percent of them
using cell phone Web browsers to make purchases compared to 8 percent of
other women. That's in line with other findings about gadget mastery:
nearly two-thirds of black women said they learn every feature of a new
Bryant said that helps explain why their cell phone use is so much
higher, since they go beyond the calling or texting functions and use
built-in Web browsers, cameras and digital organizers. Black women also
are more likely to use the Web for product research, and they are more
than twice as likely to use e-mail or instant messaging to share good
deals with friends and family.
Overall, black women are savvy tech shoppers, Bryant said.
"When the iPhone first came out, they were not the ones who ran to the
Apple store to buy it because they knew the price was going to go down
or there was going to be a bug," she said.
The Essence study included an online survey of 800 black women and 400
nonblack women ages 18 to 54. Participants had a minimum household
income of $20,000 and were cell phone or Internet users.
The survey, conducted last April but only released now, has an error
margin of 3.4 percentage points for the African-American women and 4.8
percentage points for "general market" women.
Black women are more than twice as likely as other women to reward
themselves by splurging on technology.
"These products are the social badges of this generation," said Betsy
Frank, chief research officer for the Time Inc. Media Group.
Bryant said it's important for electronics companies and advertisers to
recognize the power these women have as influential consumers.
"They tend to be the primary decision makers in households, in part
because two-thirds of African-American households are led by women,"
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