African-American Millennials: Leading the Future of the Digital Economy

African-American millennials are increasingly shaping mainstream conversations through digital communication. A recent study explores how Black millennials, representing 14% of the US millennial population, are outpacing other demographic groups as influential social and economic leaders.

Trend-setting African-American audiences are changing how digital platforms, social media, and technology products evolve. Now, more brands are adapting their strategies to attract this growing affluent market segment’s buying power.

Educational Advancement of African-Americans

One aspect contributing to growing African-American influence in the digital economy is the demographic’s achievements in educational excellence. More Black millennials are completing higher levels of education, compared to older generations.

Level of Education Black Millennials Black Baby Boomers
High School 88% 77%
Associate’s Degree 38% 28%
Bachelor’s Degree 15% 10%
Master’s Degree 6% 7%


Today, fewer African-Americans are dropping out of high school. Instead, Black millennials are exceeding other demographics in college enrollment rates. Female African-Americans, in particular, are accelerating their academic progress the most.

The number of Black-Owned Businesses and African-American entrepreneurs have also experienced substantial growth. At least 9% of all US businesses are Black-Owned, 59% owned by women.

Black Influence in the Digital Economy

Higher levels of education and business ownership are contributing to a rise in household income for African-American families. In many areas across the nation, Black income growth exceeded Caucasian income growth, reflecting substantial upward mobility.

Brands that successfully market to African-Americans can benefit from tremendous economic rewards. The majority of Black millennial buyers tend to be brand loyal, particularly to Black-Owned businesses. In addition to supporting initiatives for racial equality, meaningful connections, celebrity endorsements, and high-quality products are ways companies are gaining the respect of African-American customers.

Aside from achieving higher levels of education and income, the Black community is also particularly tech-savvy. African-American millennials spend more time on digital devices than their counterparts in other demographics. Compared to the total population, Black Americans spend 44% more time networking on social media websites.

Around 91% of African-Americans access the internet through their smartphones, while only 45% use desktops or laptops. Capitalizing on the opportunities within this segment is requiring marketers to prioritize mobile optimization strategically.

Growing Social Awareness

One of the most significant trends reveals that Black consumers aren’t just using the internet to connect with friends and shop for deals online. African-Americans are using the web to instigate social change and raise awareness of diversity-related issues. The hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, is a recent social media-based movement challenging social justice inequalities in the Black community.

As social consciousness grows, so do Black millennial consumers’ preference for brands displaying strong social values. Many brands are supporting racial equality and the BlackLivesMatter movement through targeted campaigns. For example, Ben and Jerry’s started sponsoring the initiative through their new “Justice Remixed” ice cream flavor.

Online streaming platforms are winning over Black consumers through storytelling. Platforms, such as Netflix, released African-American educational documentaries, and donated to equal rights organizations to signal solidarity. Other companies have been inspired to make internal changes, implementing more diverse and inclusive business practices.

Another digital initiative supporting the future of African-Americans is #BankBlack. The message encourages individuals to use Black-Owned banking services. By increasing business, supporters hope to create more wealth and jobs for African-Americans. Black-Owned lending institutions tend to serve low-income communities, presenting opportunities that narrow the overall wealth gap.

Driving Change in Corporate America

Compared to the rest of the US, Black Americans are more responsive to digital communication and the potential new technology can offer. This high demand for products and services that cater to African-Americans’ needs is having a significant impact on corporate America.

Many companies are carefully considering any factors that could influence the purchasing decisions of this influential market segment. Businesses that fail to appeal to the Black millennial demographic could be missing out on essential revenues.

An increase in both African-American shoppers and business owners are compounding corporate America and society’s changes. Brands shift their focus to become more image-conscious, address the needs of a diverse market, and participate in civic events.

Want to learn more about Marketing to African-American Millennials? Ask the Digital Marxman.