Why Black Still Matters: An Interview with Marketing Expert and Author Pepper Miller

By Patti Minglin

BSM-Online-Book1I am often asked which marketing books I still pick up for insight, inspiration and ideas.  While my office bookcase is filled with business books, there are only a handful that I use on a regular basis and one that I think spends more time on my desk than my bookcase is Black Still Matters in Marketing:  Why Increasing Your Cultural IQ about Black America is Critical to Your Business and Your Brand.   As William Hawthorne, VP Strategy & Diversity and Legal Affairs for Macy’s stated in a recent review, this book “is timely, extraordinarily well researched, and it provides a deep understanding of the cultural dynamics and attitudes of the broad and diverse black consumer group.”    I couldn’t agree more.

I have the pleasure of knowing the author, Pepper Miller, president of The Hunter-Miller Group, a leading edge market research and strategic planning firm and co-author of one of my other favorite marketing books, What’s Black About It?, and recently asked her some questions regarding the unique nature of the black female market.

Patti Minglin:  Why should marketers care about the unique nature of the black market–especially when it comes to black women and moms?

Pepper Miller: Marketers have the opportunity to tap into an often underserved market segment when in fact, Black women are the conduit for reaching the $1trillion Black consumer market.  Additionally, across many key categories such as travel, insurance, technology, real estate, automobiles and more…, Black women are more likely to be the primary decision-maker in their households.

Minglin: What do you think would surprise brands the most about black women consumers? Black mom consumers?

Miller:  Many Black moms want their children to be exposed to different diverse cultures, but many also want their children to have Black role models. In fact, 75% of Blacks (mostly women) have a conversation about race with their children as young as kindergarten age, vs. 75% of Whites (mostly women) who do not.   “Accomplished Black Women” is a segment under many marketers’ radar.  They are rising above the stereotypes and tend to be single, and are both younger and older.  Younger Accomplished Black Women are delaying/foregoing child bearing for career and educational gains, older Black Accomplished Women may be divorced or widowed, or have children that are grown and have left the nest.  Both groups of Accomplished Black Women key influencers in the Black community as they mentor and provide community service via sororities, The Black church, and the Links (accomplished Black women dedicated to community service) etc. They demonstrate high consumerism for automotive, electronics, health and beauty, fashions, travel, philanthropy and investments.

Minglin:  Can you give us 3 tips for how a brand can effectively connect with the black female consumer?


  • Celebrate Black beauty. Show a variety of positive images of Black women that include a variety of shapes and sizes, a range of skin tones, and a variety of hair types and textures.
  • Serve Black women where they are. Show up in places where Black women congregate with other Black women and connect with them online (these platforms are like beauty shops in cyberspace) and offline spaces like popular magazines, grass root events, and the Black church.
  • Show positive images of Black men… as leaders, as caring caretakers of the family, caring for children and loving Black women.


pattimAbout the Author
Patti Minglin is a sales and marketing expert with substantial experience in marketing to women and marketing to moms. She is a product of the publishing industry having spent more than 17 years in senior executive positions in circulation, advertising, marketing and new product development.  Patti served as the Associate Publisher- Advertising/Marketing for Chicago Parent and launched Go Girl Communications, a sales and marketing consultancy, in the spring of 2011.