Buying black has been a hot topic on the Internet among African-Americans for years now, and has been talked about by black leaders for decades. The importance of buying black has been well documented as an avenue to strengthen the black community economically, not only to provide jobs, but also to keep our nearly trillion-dollar buying power in our hands. People like the Anderson Family and Dr. Jeffrey Robinson have conducted experiments and tours centering around the concept of buying black, to empower more of us to do it — yet it seems impractical.
But it’s not impossible. How can the average African-American consumer do his or her part in supporting black businesses?
It’s one thing to talk in theory about buying black; it’s another thing to actually know how to do so. There are many companies online that specifically target African-Americans to help them to buy black. This article aims to guide you to the best of those currently available. Most fall into one of three categories: daily deals sites, online stores, and business directories. Hopefully, once you buy black, you never go back! Buying online makes taking the first step easy.
Daily Deals Sites
Most people are familiar with deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Scoutmob that offer consumers large discounts with companies exchanging deals for more visibility for the sponsoring company. Following in the footsteps of the pioneering firm Black Biz Hookup, many new daily deals sites are looking to connect consumers and black merchants through the same mechanism. Here are four sites that you should keep your eye on:
Ujamaa Deals: Ujamaa Deals was founded in late 2011 by myself and Tre Baker, our CEO. Our goal is not to be a Groupon knockoff, but a black economic investment company that uses daily deals as an avenue to consolidate the buying power of the black community. Ujamaa offers weekly deals from some of the best black-owned businesses that sell products online. Although we are only focusing on online sales currently, the next step for us is to run deals with quality black merchants in cities like Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Houston, and Washington, D.C. Ujamaa hopes to be a powerful platform that transfers the $1 trillion dollar buying power of the black community back to black businesses.
BlackMark-It is doing awesome things by providing deals from black-owned companies in Chicago. What impresses me most about them is their ability to find a diverse array of companies to run campaigns through their platform. Launched in early 2012, Black Mark-It has quickly become a major player in the black daily deals space.
iZania has used its success as a black business community and translated it into a black daily deals site. It’s too early to tell which types of deals iZania Market will run on a consistent basis, but there is a lot of promise to their organization.
HBCU Daily Deals has come up with the interesting concept of finding deals for college students who attend HBCUs. This company is very niche, which means that it could potentially have a strong grasp on what black college students buy while they are on or around campus. Specialization of this kind could help the firm properly capitalize on this market.
Daily deals are great offers for consumers and great advertising opportunities for merchants. The challenge is that deals only last for a short period of time. How can interested consumers find a plethora of quality black products all of the time? Enter the black online stores. These Internet venues aggregate products and services from black merchants and sell them all in one place. Based off the model pioneered by Amazon.com, online stores have the potential to provide an outlet for black merchants to consistently market their products to consumers. Here are the black online stores to watch:
Ujamaa is really a hybrid site that mixes the best qualities of Amazon.com with those of daily deal sites like Groupon. The Ujamaa Market is a place where merchants can upload their products and services for purchase by consumers who want to buy black. Ultimately, Ujamaa Market seeks all purveyors of quality African-American goods as participants in their marketplace to create a unified front of black economic power.
The Black Business Network was founded by Tag Team Marketing, a company dedicated to to empowering the black community by being a channel for black-owned businesses to reach black consumers all over the world. This company is known for its army of direct sales personnel, but it also has an online store from which you can purchase many of their products made by black-owned companies.
Black Business Directories
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” And black business directories are the tried and true way of finding where to buy black online and in your local community. Although African-American business directories have been around for years, one innovative company in the market uses new technologies to breathe life into this old concept.
I love GPS Black because they are the first black business directory to embrace mobile marketing. GPS Black has thousands of black owned businesses nationwide it its directory, and it is easy to find the best fit for what you are looking for right from your smartphone. As they continue to add new businesses to their database, the possibility for expansion of their mobile platform because enormous. Searching for black-owned businesses is easy and quick with GPS Black.
This list is meant to get us started, but there are many challenges that need to be resolved before the general population will embrace the concept of buying black. Examples include overcoming negative stereotypes about black businesses, finding a diverse set of black products and services to feature (how many companies are needed to fill all our consumer needs?), and challenges in raising capital to keep these businesses going. As these issues are resolved, we will see more companies dedicated to promoting the African-American market space.
Source: The Grio