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Black consumers are open to trying new products if these products are appropriately presented as items that can perhaps help them live better, save time, or achieve more status. One factor affecting now perhaps help them live better save time or achieve more status. One factor affecting new product adoption has been found to be the social visibility of the product. Blacks appear to be less innovative than whites with respect to appliances and foods two non-socially visible items. They are more innovative than whites, however, with respect to socially visible fashions and clothing. One study comparing middle class blacks and whites of both sexes found that blacks reported greater fashion innovativeness, fashion opinion leadership and sending for new fashions, although the differences were small. Actually women of both races were found to be more fashion innovative than men, suggesting that sex, income, education, and socioeconomic status may be relatively more important than race in shaping fashion attitudes and behavior.
The understanding that black fashion innovation may have different characteristics than that for whites, however offers opportunities for developing appropriate marketing strategies to deal with those variations. For instance, black female innovators place greater emphasis on the area of credit / billing policies offered by retailers than do whites. They also possess fewer credit cards, have different media patterns (for example, they are much more likely to prefer rock / jazz programming as opposed to whites easy listening music preferences) and have significantly less participation in formal group memberships and organized social activities than do whites. But social and personal sources of information are widely used by black female opinion leaders.
The black market has also been researched on the basis of it shopping patterns. Here too, differences have been found between whites and blacks. For example, black shoppers spend more per shopping center trip than their Hispanic or white counterparts ($49.75 versus $48.22 and $ 45.18, respectively). Also, blacks are 22 percent more likely than whites to cite shopping as a favorite leisure activity, with over half of the black population shopping for relaxation. While much of the research deals it food purchasing habits, other product shopping patterns have also been investigated.
A study by Progressive Grocer of factors influencing store choice found that blacks’ assessments of supermarkets generally match those of the population at large. There are several differences however that could prove useful feedback to supermarket managers when planning marketing strategy. Although brand loyalty is generally high, store loyalty is not as strong. One study showed that only 59 percent of blacks are always or almost always satisfied with the food stores where they do most of their shopping compared to 72 percent of whites. Blacks are far more price sensitive than whites. They shop for groceries far less frequently and spend more per trip than whites.
Firm conclusions cannot yet be drawn about black shopping patterns in non food stores. However, one study did find that blacks frequented discount stores (as opposed to department stores) more often than whites (although this finding tends to vanish where upper income blacks are concerned). A probable reason for this patronage is the emphasis on price by black shoppers. Another reason could be related to the atmosphere of large department stores, which has been found to cause some feelings of insecurity among black shoppers. Because feelings of defensiveness and alienation may occur in some retailing environments, research indicates that blacks may be more likely to respond favorably to salespeople who are perceived to be friendlier and more understanding thus establishing a position of perceived trust as the initial impression. Whites on the other hand, consider the perceived qualifications of the salesperson as the primary variable in the resulting initial. Black consumer have been so ignored by retailer that 49 percent of blacks have no department store of first choice preference compared to just 33 percent of the total population. Blacks also shop convenience stores and are attracted to TV shopping more than are whites but are less interested in catalog shopping.
Clothing purchases by black omen have also been the subject of some research studies. A general pattern appears to be the frequent use of department discount and chain stores by black women and of department and specialty stores by white women. Findings seem to differ, though, depending on factors such as age, geographic location, social class, and fashion consciousness.