Fast Food Companies Race Towards the African American Dollar

CBx Vibe:Hooked” Siimba Liives Long

By Fredrick Lee

  • TV marketing increased more than 50% targeting African Americans
  • Black adults have the second highest obesity rate at 46.8%

Food companies are hungry to get in front of African American consumers and have ramped up their TV marketing more than 50%. This community has a reported spending power of  $1.3 trillion, and part of that is tied to their daily purchases and consumption of food. While black people may be on food companies radars, are they only pushing the non-healthy options to this demographic?  


Why This Matters: Unfortunately, this increased marketing has been tied to fast-food chains and packaged or processed food products, according to a report from University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. From 2013 to 2017, the study found Pepsi’s (PEP -1.11%) spending on TV commercials targeting black shoppers increased by 37%, and Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands (YUM -0.73%) rose 31%. It’s a clever strategy when you consider meals that are easy or have no prep time, large availability and effective marketing can make these foods the first choice.  

From 2013 to 2017, Pepsi’s spending on TV commercials targeting black shoppers increased by 37%

Healthy eating is becoming more important as concerns such as obesity and diabetes continue to be prolific in the African American community. The Centers for Disease Control found that black adults have the second highest obesity rate at 46.8%. With sales of $2.6 billion in 2017, meal-kit services could be the answer to countering the issue of preparing healthy meals. Players like Figure Friendly, Eat Urban Fresh, and Blue Apron (APRN -2.24%) hope to capitalize on these trends with convenient services and healthy meals.

Traditional food companies will not give up this lucrative demographic easily as they continue to increase marketing towards African Americans. The results of the study came from analyzing channels with a target audience of black Americans, including Viacom (VIAB -2.86%) owned BET and VH1.

Situational Awareness: To many African Americans, the meal-kit service is still perceived as a costly niche industry. If meal-kit services want to gain a strong foothold with this demographic they will need to take a page from the traditional food companies in marketing and outreach. Spend the money and time in traditional and social media to make a run for black consumers and show there are convenient and healthy alternatives.  

CBx Vibe:Hooked” Siimba Liives Long

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