Survey: Readers of Black Press Are ‘Blockbuster’ Market Missed By Advertisers

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Readers of black-oriented newspapers are better educated, wealthier consumers than the general African American population, with significant discretionary income and plans to spend it — but, by skipping ads in the black press, advertisers are not reaching this key audience, according to a new report by a big ethnic-newspaper rep firm.

“African American Newspaper Report” is the first in what is intended to be an annual study of readers of black newspapers by the newspaper representation firm Ethnic Print Media Group (EPMG) and the market research firm International Demographics Inc. The study surveyed 6,993 readers of 107 black papers in 55 markets.

What they found, EPMG Vice President Trevor Hansen said in a telephone interview Thursday, is a desirable consumer group underserved by advertisers. “It just drove home the reality that African-American-targeted papers and the African-American readership is a blockbuster opportunity for brands and campaigns,” he said.

EPMG and Demographics International released some parts of the proprietary study Thursday.

Black-press readers, the survey found, have an average household income of $53,051. More than 60% of the readers are female, with 61% aged 25-54 and about half between 25 and 49. Nearly 60% are homeowners, and another 25% plan to buy a home in the next two years.

Some 70% of African-American-newspaper readers report they at fast food at least once a week, and 30% say they dine out three or more times a week. “If you’re looking at a 5-million circulation, that’s 15 million visits to fast-food restaurants — yet if you look into the newspapers themselves you’re not going to find the kind of fast-food advertising you’re going to find in general-market papers or general-market broadcasts,” Hansen said.

Black-newspaper readers also like soda: Three-quarters of the readers said they drank at least one soft drink last week — and nearly 40% drank five or more. The leading brand? Pepsi, followed closely by Coke and Sprite.

But black-paper readers also have big plans for big purchases, too. Most families report owning two to four cars or more, Hansen said. More than half plan to take an ocean cruise, and more than a third stayed in hotels or motels 10 or more nights during the past 12 months. “Our average reader takes 3.39 U.S. flights per year and 2.23 international flights every two years,” Hansen said in a statement. “The top three airlines — Delta, American and Southwest — are tied for first.”

These readers can’t be reached in general-market dailies because most are not regularly readers or subscribers to dailies, Hansen told E&P. “The trouble the [black] papers have had is a lot of agencies will consider they’ve reached the African American market through their general-market broadcasts,” he added. “Hopefully with this study, we’ll show that newspapers offer a strong reach into a loyal audience with strong discretionary spending ability and strong plans for future spending.”

San Diego, Calif.-based EPMG has contracted with Circulation Verification Council to produce the first nationwide circulation audit of black newspapers, which will be published in the spring of 2005. For International Demographics, this newspaper report was its first nationwide study of black newspaper readership, said Hugh Brown, the firm’s director of urban marketing.

“What we noticed is that black-newspaper readers are more educated, have more assets and greater income to purchase goods and services than the general black population,” he said in a statement. “They are invaluable influencers within the African American community and are significant for marketers who are trying to leverage advertising dollars, roll out new product launches, and build awareness campaigns to this burgeoning audience.”

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