Last year we encouraged you to reach out to businesses that support our community by saying thank you, and this year we encourage you to do it again.
According to a 2012 study, the nation’s Black buying power continues to rise dramatically. In fact, it reached over $1 Trillion in 2012. That number was maintained in 2013 despite the horrific unemployment, under employment and a disproportionately high toll the recession has taken on our community. See the Selig Center Report. Still, as a measure of comparison, according to the CIA World Factbook, that remains an amount greater than the buying power of Iran, a nation that ranked 17th in the world.
Black spending in the US increased 73% from 2000 – 2012 compared to 60% of Whites and 67% of all US consumers. While Blacks need to be concerned about saving and creating wealth, for the purpose of this article, we want to focus on what this means regarding economic empowerment.
This increase in buying power does not come only from population growth and inflation. The 2007 Survey of Business Owners published by the US Census Bureau in 2011 shows a dramatic increase in Black owned businesses and receipts generated by those businesses. Another factor shows rising education levels opening the doors to occupations with higher and higher average salaries. These trends are favorable, but only to the extent to which they are built upon.
Knowing that Black consumers continue to spend a disproportionately large percentage of their incomes on consumer goods is not the message. Understanding that it is possible to strategically turn those personal buying habits into personal economic power is.
Michiana makes up a 15 county region in the Midwest with a population of 1.6 million people. According to the last census, 226,000 of that population is Black. That’s 14% of the population. The key here is buying POWER… and the conscious choice to use it.
When businesses believe consumers will purchase from them no matter what the quality of service; the incentive to incur the added expense of providing exceptional service declines. When consumers demonstrate a conscious decision to purchase with selected businesses, exceptional efforts are made to compete for that business. In 2009 the combined annual buying power of Black people in Indiana and Michigan was reported to be $54 million. You would think that consumers with that kind of buying power deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. But if consumers do not show that they understand the extent of their purchasing power, that respect will not come.
Those businesses that respect black buying power and show it by reaching out to the black community, investing in the community, supporting the community… deserve the community’s thanks. They earn the community’s business and should be rewarded. But how does the individual consumer make a difference? How does the individual consumer exert any real power? The answer is with a simple Thank you.
By publicly saying Thank You to those businesses that treat the Black community with dignity and respect consumers give businesses free advertising. By saying Thank you loudly and publicly Indiana and Michigan businesses see that some portion of that $54 million is more likely to be spent with them. That simple Thank you will encourage those businesses to compete for what they refer to as a larger share of wallet.
This year, let’s acknowledge those companies that show they care about the Black community. Send us the names of those businesses and why you feel they care about the Black community. Do they provide exceptional service? Do they support your church or school? Do they invest in your families? Do they buy services from small community based businesses? The Michiana African American Chamber of Commerce will join the Michiana Dignity and Respect Campaign and publicize those businesses and spread the good word about them. And as they do more the campaign will say more. Tell us when you encourage others to support those businesses. We’ll make sure they know their efforts are being rewarded with your business.
Over the year we will want to track those businesses that show that they value our community. We will look to share what we spend here in Michiana and with whom. Economic empowerment begins by knowing that every consumer’s voice counts. When consumers reward businesses that support the community … businesses compete to provide even more. It’s the basic tenant of buying power. The power you the consumer control. POWER TO THE PEOPLE. POWER TO THE COMMUNITY.