Imagine a universe where women of color hold more leadership roles in the workplace, politics, business, and education. Seem like a fairytale? Well, it’s not. Over the next decade Hispanic and African American women, in the U.S., will enter the workforce and start businesses at an unprecedented rate.
Close to 52 million Hispanic and African American women (that’s 30% of the total U.S. female population), many of whom have either worked part-time or inconsistently, are set to be major economic contributors to the U.S. economy, in the coming years.
What’s Driving This Massive Economic Shift?
Increased access to education, mobile technologies, micro-credit and low market entry costs, have all allowed women of color to create work and start businesses faster and easier than ever.
According to the latest Census data available, there were just over 3 million Hispanic and African American female majority-owned firms in the U.S., with over $120 billion in sales. Yep, you read that right $120 BILLION!
And these women have some serious momentum, with growth of 87% for Hispanic women and 67% for black women, during the last five year period. That puts them well ahead of Hispanic male-owned firms which grew by 37% during the same time and businesses owned by white women, who increased by 13% in comparison.
With limited support services, such as viable childcare, many women of color are also starting their own businesses so they can provide flexibility for their families and avoid traditional hurdles that continue to keep them out of the workplace.
Connecting To This Economic Powerhouse
Not only are these women embarking on business mogul status, but they are also super-consumers who control over $2.8 trillion in U.S. spending power.
To appeal to women of the multicultural Sheconomy the changes in a product or service or even the way a company runs, will need to be profound. Based on our research of Hispanic and African American women, here are five strategies for connecting with female consumers of color:
1. Provide experiences vs. things. We’ve all heard the “experience” mantra, and for a good reason, consumers are genuinely prioritizing memorable experiences over purchasing more random stuff. Hispanic and African American female consumers, in particular, appreciate the ability to design more of their own moments. Businesses will need to work hard to meet her demand for the exclusive and uncommon.
2. Embrace imperfection (#nofilter). Black and brown women, of all ages, are rejecting the social-media obsessed, highly edited life of recent years and are instead resonating with a “come as you are” mindset. They are searching for authenticity—not the fake authenticity of heavily-produced content masquerading as impromptu, but real, random, spontaneous moments.
3. Be transparent. These days everyone’s a fact checker. The internet gives anyone the power to expose errors, inaccuracies, and lies with just a swipe of their smartphone, and then spread their findings. With the continued rise of social media justice, accountability is a must have for Hispanic and black women.
Black and brown women, of all ages, are rejecting the social-media obsessed, highly edited life of recent years. They are searching for authenticity—not the fake authenticity of heavily-produced content masquerading as impromptu, but real, random, spontaneous moments.
4. Don’t make her wait. Human attention spans have fallen from 12 to 8 seconds (btw: a goldfish has the attention span of 9 seconds), and Gen Z’s is projected to be 3 seconds. The need for constant, mostly visual stimulation is creating new markets for on-demand services that will continue to grow for years to come.
5. Shift from selling to educating. In a future with flexible working hours and (hopefully) more free time, knowledge will increasingly define our economy. Women color will look to fill their spare moments intelligently and thoughtfully and approach everyday tasks, such as shopping, in a more considered way - focusing on thinking, learning, and exploration.
Hispanic and African American women are, no doubt, the future of the U.S. economy, and that future is already at your doorstep. And yet, even as women of color enter the world of commerce and the workforce in record numbers, many businesses are unprepared for their arrival. For the companies that learn to understand and adapt to this influential segment, the payoff will be substantial. But for businesses that fail to adjust, the risks will be just as profound.
Get ready to experience significant tremors in the U.S. marketplace.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angel Ciangi is a diversity consultant specializing in multicultural research, marketing, and trend analysis with particular emphasis on understanding and interpreting the attitudes and behaviors of Hispanic and African American Gen Xers, Gen Ys and Gen Zs.
Over the last ten years, Angel has conducted research for brands such as The North Face, Timberland, Vans, Honda, Del Monte, and Microsoft, giving her in-depth knowledge into the lives of consumers of all kinds. In addition to running a variety of ethnography/lifestyle studies, focus groups and panels over the years both in the U.S. and internationally, Angel also has extensive marketing experience. She spent several years as a marketing executive at Levi’s Strauss & Co. where she developed award-winning marketing and advertising campaigns. During her tenure at Levi’s Angel developed several very successful marketing programs with partners such as MTV, ESPN, the CW Network, the Sundance Film Festival, Coachella, Glamour Magazine, and Teen Vogue.
Prior to working for Levi’s, Angel lived in London and was Director of Marketing for a leading British retailer.
Angel attended Michigan State University and received her MBA from the University of Michigan.