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African-American Millennials Are Tech-Savvy Leaders in Digital Advancement

3 minute read | October 2016

With continued population growth, higher education attainment and expanded access to mobile technology, African-Americans’ digital footprint and influence is being driven by younger influencers—black Millennials (18-34).

As detailed in Nielsen’s Young, Connected and Black report, there are more than 83 million Millennials in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau, of which African-Americans comprise 14% (about 11.5 million). African-American Millennials are using technology and social media to amplify their voices about how they consume information, entertainment and products.


African-American Millennials are early adopters when it comes to trying new electronic gadgets. In fact, 70% are fascinated by new technology, and they’re more likely than total U.S. Millennials to say they’re among the first of their friends and colleagues to try new technology products. They also enjoy learning about electronic products from others, and they will recommend electronic products they like to their peers. For marketers trying to establish meaningful connections with African-Americans, leveraging their passions and usage of today’s latest technology should be a central focus in strategic goals.


Not only do African-American Millennials spend more time watching live and time-shifted TV (DVR) than total U.S. Millennials on a weekly basis by 61%, but they also spend more time on a weekly basis consuming video content on other devices. Black Millennials watch video on PCs and smartphones at rates 48% and 23% higher, respectively, than their total market counterparts, and African-Americans ages 35-49 watch at rates 45% and 32% higher, respectively, than their total market counterparts.


The digital divide, or lack of access to technology with regard to mobile internet access, among multicultural consumers has been closing rapidly in recent years. Technology and the use of digital platforms such as social media has become an integral part of the everyday fabric of most African-Americans’ lives. Led by tech-savvy Millennials, who regard and use technology and social media almost as extensions of their personal identity, African-Americans have become adept at using digital platforms to communicate with their peers as well as others around the world. In fact, 91% of African-Americans own smartphones, and they are the second-largest multicultural group for ownership behind Asian-Americans (94%). Ninety-one percent of African-Americans had internet access via a smartphone or broadband in 2016, up from 86% in 2015, a growth rate of 6%, outpacing all other racial/ethnic groups.


Usage of mobile devices (particularly smartphones) among African-Americans, especially African-American Millennials, is bringing a heighted awareness to social issues, brand affinity and even pop culture commentary via social media. And African-Americans have elevated the platform to a usage level far beyond just communicating, entertainment and shopping. They are using social media to raise awareness of issues affecting the Black community in American society.

Fifty-five percent of black Millennials say they spend an hour or more daily on social networking sites, which is 11% higher than the total Millennial population. Additionally, 29% of black Millennials say they spend three or more hours daily on social networking sites, an amount that is 44% higher than that of the total Millennial population.

Sixty-four percent of black Millennials agree they like to keep their personal internet pages updated. Facebook (84%), YouTube (56%) and Twitter (48%) are the most common social networking sites with strong membership among black Millennials. Black Millennials are more likely than their total population counterparts to have memberships with Twitter (48% versus 46%), Google+ (55% versus 41%) and WhatsApp (21% versus 14%).

African-Americans are catalysts of change, and technology and social media is transforming and elevating the way in which they make their voices heard. As African-Americans, particularly younger Millennials, continue to develop and expand their influence on mainstream America, companies are making changes to reach this culture-rich group with unique, captivating campaigns, as well as products and services that meet their needs.

For additional insight, download Nielsen’s Young, Connected and Black report.

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