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Shopper Trends|August 19, 2020

How Do Retailers Win Minorities’ Trust? By Doing Something

It’s easy for retailers to say they care about Black customers, but what are they doing to prove it in the store every day? This issue is more pressing now as the pandemic, racial strife and financial concerns heighten stress among all shoppers and store workers. For our latest How America Shops® research, we asked Black shoppers how they feel about the store in the midst of these crises.

Black Shoppers Do Not Believe You Care About Them

Significantly fewer Blacks than Whites feel cared for by the institutions that are supposed to care, including the federal government, doctors, pharmacists and the drugstores, mass merchants and supermarkets where they shop

If Blacks do not believe retailers care about them, then it’s reasonable to expect that Black consumers are not taking retailers’ pledges of improving race relations seriously.

We decided to talk to Black consumers about their shopping experiences as well as their financial outlook. This sample Q&A from our How America Shops® Black Shoppers study provides insight into how they feel.

Question: Which retailers show they care about helping you get through the pandemic?

Answer: Just 32% of Black shoppers believe Supermarkets care about them and 40% think Drug Stores do, compared with 50% of White shoppers in both channels. Mass Merchandisers didn’t fare well, either – only one-third of Blacks and Whites think stores like Walmart, Target, and Meijer care.

Q: When you shop in stores during the pandemic, how do you want retailers to care for your safety?

A: More Black shoppers than White want retailers to help them stay virus-free while shopping. Among Black shoppers, 52% (vs. 44% of Whites) want retailers to create more open space in the stores, and 47% want stores to ban shoppers who do not wear masks (vs. 41% of Whites).

Q: At which types of stores have you purchased anything in the last three months?

A: Mass Merchants, Supermarkets, and Dollar Stores rank equally as the top 3 channels shopped by 2/5 of Blacks in three months. Fewer Blacks than Whites shop Supermarkets, Drug Stores, or Online.

Q: In which categories do you expect to cut spending over the next three to six months?

A: Across categories, more Black shoppers than White (by about 10 percentage points) plan to reduce spending, especially in prepared takeout foods (54% compared with 44%), grocery basics like frozen foods (37% vs. 23%), pain medications (42% and 23%), hair care (31% and 22%), men’s facial grooming (38% to 29%) and oral care (24% and 14%).

3 Tips to Help Retailers Show They Really Care About Black shoppers

  1. Help Black shoppers get by in a tough economy. More Black shoppers are cutting spending across categories because they’re not sure what will happen next. Tip: Caring means helping shoppers live within their budgets. In the 2010 recession, there were plenty of good ideas to feed a family well for less. (Remember Walmart’s pizza for a family of 4 for $4? It’s time to try those marketing ideas again.)
  2. Smile – and merchandise to support smart shopping. More than one-third of Black shoppers (35%) feel financially insecure and 72% of Black shoppers (vs. 52% of Whites) say their mental well-being is important for their overall health. Tip: Caring means relieving stress and supporting peace of mind. This can be as simple as smiling and thanking customers for shopping, and as practical as displaying affordable healthy choices.
  3. Reinforce the value of brands. Black shoppers are looking to spend less but they respect the value of national brands. Tip: Promote the promise of national and sustainable brands –71% of Blacks trust national brands and 57% say national brands reflect who they are, while 52% of Black shoppers will continue to buy brands that support sustainability.

Getting serious about Black Lives Matter requires more than a task force or a mission statement or changing the models in ads. It’s more than expanding the selection of ethnic products on the shelf. Living Black Lives Matter means instilling respect for all shoppers in all stores, every day. The country is in a crisis, and the momentum for change is now. Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.

Want to learn more? You can get our report, How America Shops® Black Shoppers, and more information here.

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