Magazine article Black Enterprise

Respect on the Net

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Respect on the Net

Article excerpt

When Microsoft Corp. launched Windows 95 last August 24, it began a marketing and advertising blitz that inspired as many headlines as did the software itself. More than $600 million in combined marketing expenditures was invested in the global rollout by Microsoft, retailers and hardware and software companies in 1995. Yet, despite the fact that the industry took pains to reach consumers in 22 countries, no such effort was made to reach you, the African American consumer. If you don't have a problem with that, you should.

Too often, African Americans are, to paraphrase Ralph Ellison, "the invisible consumers." Companies see our money, but they often don't see--or don't want to see--us. So they stick to comfortable stereotypes of the black consumer market, using them to justify their neglect of that market even as they enjoy the nearly $400 billion African Americans spend each year.

This is an issue I've addressed often, in reference to a variety of industries, from financial services to business travel. Companies insist that African Americans are not a high priority in their marketing strategy because we don't appreciate, can't afford or "don't fit the image" of their products--in this case, software and other computer products--and thus we're not worthy of investing marketing dollars against. The fact that many African Americans are enthusiastic consumers of these products--or would be, if we were wooed by advertisers to the same degree as are other consumers--is at best taken for granted, and at worst, a source of embarrassment to the advertiser. …

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