Black business owners are likely to hire their own and the average African-American consumer touts respect as one of the top guiding principles when shopping. These were some of the financial issues discussed during a recent seminar aimed at educating people of color about money matters.
The seminar, “Making Sense of Your Money,” is a free daylong workshop sponsored annually by WVON radio. About 1,000 people attended the event that was held at the Du Sable Museum, 740 E. 56th Place.
Many leaders in today’s financial circles spoke at the event, including Jim Lowry, senior vice president of Boston Consulting Group. Lowry said the financial culture has changed and will continue to change and that black business owners must learn to adapt to compete because the face of the decision-maker has changed.
“These CEOs are younger,” he said speaking about the new breed of Fortune 500 leaders. “Many of them aren’t prejudiced; they just don’t care,” he said. “They don’t remember the Civil Rights movement.”
In this changing business culture, black people are starting businesses faster than any other group. In a 15-year period, black businesses grew by 8.9 percent compared to 2.9 of all businesses. Where they come up short is the failure to grow larger businesses. Lowry attributed this stunted growth to a continued lack of opportunities for black people in corporate America.
“They don’t see themselves going to the top in corporate America. They have an attitude that we can do better by ourselves,” he said, speaking of the dearth of black executives.
Black business people need to strive to create larger businesses. Everybody else creates large businesses and this shortcoming has hurt us, Lowry added. In the new century, this lack of size may prevent black owners from participating as large suppliers.
By 2050, minorities are expected to be the majority and corporate America must understand that there needs be working opportunities for these people to survive.
“If we are allowed to form businesses, we will employ our own,” Lowry said. “We can create our own Bill Gates.”
On the flip side, marketing to African-American consumers, who spend $760 billion a year, has shifted. Today’s advertisers tend to view black consumers as though they’re white.
“The perception is that black people are just dark-skinned white people,” said Pepper Miller, founder of the Hunter-Miller Group, a marketing consulting firm.
Miller said African Americans are often unaware how much they influence the marketplace. “Black men continue to be the leading influence of pop culture. Nobody but nobody does it like the brothers. It’s their ‘cool cache’ that sells product,” she added.
Also mentioned was the appearance of the “psychological filter,” the one aspect that makes the African-American consumer different from all other consumers. The “psychological filter” embodies black people’s history of slavery and discrimination in this country. African Americans tend to screen their purchasing and buying experience through this filter. When buying, African-Americans tend to either consciously or unconsciously ask how a product makes them feel. Does it give them trust, respect, honor? This is why blacks are extremely loyal to brands that gain their trust, Miller noted.
Meanwhile, when it comes to personal finance, Michelle Singletary, personal finance commentator for TV-One’s “Singletary Says,” contends that for African-American households, it’s not so much what we have but how we use what we have.
“Manage your money well,” said Singletary. “The greatest wealth that you can achieve is to be content with what you have.” Singletary also offered her four pillars of personal financial success:
1) Pay yourself first.
2) Make purchases with cash.
3) Track all of your spending.
4) Pay your bills on time..