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US Black Consumers as Digital Users

What's Distinctive in Their Usage, and What's Not

About This Report
Old formulas about black consumers’ digital usage no longer hold true, though smartphones do retain above-average importance. One must look closer to see what’s distinctive about their usage.
Table of Contents

Amid a general convergence among ethnic groups in much digital activity, there remain distinctive aspects of black consumers’ usage. Smartphones have above-average importance for them, and Black Twitter gives a unique twist to social media’s impact for many.

  • Though black consumers stood out as early adopters of smartphones, penetration is now slightly lower than for the total population. About two-thirds have smartphones. The real difference lies in smartphones’ outsized importance in black users’ overall digital activity—for instance, in its role as the primary means of getting online.
  • About six in 10 black consumers are social media users, matching the total population. Penetration is highest on Facebook, used by about eight in 10 black social networkers. In sync with the mobile skew of their digital usage, this group overindexes as users of Snapchat and Instagram.
  • Though above average, Twitter penetration within the black population isn’t especially high—21.9% vs. 17.1% for the total population. Nonetheless, the phenomenon known as Black Twitter is a major cultural force, within the black community and beyond.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. Getting Past Some Outdated Ideas
  2. A Mobile-First Population
  3. Mapping Highs and Lows of Black Social Usage
  1. Elsewhere in the Digital Landscape
  2. Even in the Digital Era, TV Still Matters
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  1. Related Links
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report


Mark Dolliver


Chris Bendtsen
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Tricia Carr
Managing Editor, Interviews
Oscar Orozco
Director, Forecasting
Jennifer Pearson
VP, Research
Monica Peart
Senior Director, Forecasting
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