The Black Economy and The British High Street 💷💷💷

Backlight, a leading cultural change agency, founded by Lydia Amoah published the Black Pound report in 2022, it revealed that the average monthly disposable income of the multi-ethnic consumer is £375 million equating to an annual disposable income of a whopping £4.5 billion. The disposable income figure for African Caribbean consumers alone is £1.1 billion. You could safely assume that any CFO, would derive this an exciting prospect for the global high street giants and brands, who are perennially poised to pounce, monopolise and capitalise any opportunities for growth. This is our brief opinion piece.

Headline Stats - The Current Landscape

Some interesting stats from the report are that when we drill down into specific industries, we learn that multi-ethnic consumers are spending £230m each and every month within the health and beauty sector. However, when questioned, almost four in ten black female shoppers stated that they have difficulty finding cosmetics and skin care that suits thier skin and hair type, so there is a requirement to source these products and rely upon smaller local specialist shops to meet the need and demand.

A further interesting finding is that multiethnic consumers are twice as likely as their white counterparts to favour and trust brands that attempt to reflect them in their available products, marketing strategies and advertising campaigns. Additionally, multi-ethnic consumers are not only more ethical in their purchasing habits but they are also more likely to make that purchase from a favoured retailer and then make a point of sharing their positive or negative experience with family and friends.

Profiling is still a thing

A last noteworthy outcome of the report Is that the multi-ethnic consumers remain compelled and prone to psychological passing when visiting large high street stores. This translates as a conscious decision and effort being made to adjust appearance and behaviour in order to better fit in and assimilate white shoppers with the purpose of avoiding racial profiling by store security and employees.

So we begin to paint a picture of the landscape, (and I say 'begin' because we have barley skimmed the surface of the report for this short piece); that speaks to the reason why this enormous annual disposable multi-ethnic consumer income of £4.5billion remains largely untapped by the giant high street brands. Backlight have justifiably lobbied on behalf of black and brown people with a timely call to action for the conglomerates to remedy this disconnect of what would undoubtedly be a highly mutually beneficial relationship.

All Shades' Opinion 👀

When this report was published, it was rightly featured in the press nationally from the BBC, to Sky, Forbes and Campaign magazine to name just a few; and many organisations purchased the full report to gain a deep dive and a deeper understanding to drive some rethinking and reshaping of their strategies towards being more inclusive. Diversity is the new currency and it is a fact that inclusive engagement increases profitability.

black lives matter

However, hear me out.... We all remember 2020 - it was a lot for the multi-ethnic community. It started with Brexit and the race relations issues that followed up and down the country, then the Covid pandemic nightmare began and it had its most frightening grip throughout the world during 2020 and 2021. There was a collective heightened and crushing sense of fear and anxiety, which was overwhelming to say the least. Many of us made life decisions and plans about how we wanted to work and/or live our lives differently, once we got through covid. In the midst of all of this flux and fear, George Floyd was murdered in the US. As we all know, what then followed was the grandest ever rising in recent years of a new global BLM movement. This started around the end of May 2020.

Jamii, a discount and discovery marketplace for black busineses and Translate Culture also published a report. This one showcased that during the months of May 2020 to June 2020, the revenue of some black businesses increased by 368%. Yes, 368%. The report also found that the businesses included reported they generated the same revenue in June 2020 than they did for the entirety of 2019. Just let that sink in. During this time, there was and still is, a surge of new black businesses springing up . eBay were another company to conduct some research in 2022 and they discovered that the group most likely to start side 'hustle' businesses are Black British women. They also said that searches for “black business” were up by 40% compared to the same period the year before. A last point to add is that historically a great deal many black businesses fail when compared to the businesses of white businesses, mainly on account of the need to rely upon personal funding due to a lack of formal funding opportunities available. A number of initiatives such as that of Lloyds Bank and eBay have sprung up specifically to support aspiring black entreprenuers on the financial aspect of their business journey.

'Our Time is Now' ✊🏾✊🏽✊🏿

So as a result of this cocktail of events, what we currently have and what has inadvertently been created by the reluctance and failure of large high street brands to prioritise and fully evolve into diverse spaces where all people feel catered for and represented; is a prefect storm. Many entrepreneurs have embraced their creativity and enterprise skills and started their own businesses - as I also did with All Shades, determined to 1. serve the community; 2. diversify the supply chain of products and services to the mainstream, (getting a seat at this table remains as elusive as it always was). 3. Boost the local and the black economy by putting money back into the pockets of communities. 4. Celebrate black excellence like it never has been before.

So the opinion here is that the large high street brands can delay their diversity strategy development and procrastinate further. Whilst, it is of course vital that these companies foster change in order to continue to dominate and retain their market share, I believe not doing at the pace they should only serves to benefit our community greatly in terms of creative energy, entrenpreuership and ultimately the birthing of a new golden era.

At All Shades, we are playing our small change agent role in promotion and advocacy as well as working towards addressing systemic racism by being a #blackownedbusiness working to diversifying supply chains that are not currently conducive to the success of #blackbusinesses, so when you #buyblack and send All Shades #blackgreetingscards, it plays role in the wider ethnic and socioeconomic picture.

You can also support my and other black businesses for free 🥳 (free to you - priceless to us) by going on to social media giants and following and supporting our pages, engaging with our content and posts by liking, commenting and reposting or sharing our work as this boosts our algorithms and increases the exposure and visibility of our businesses meaning our work will be shared with more users. Unfortunately,it is widely acknowldged that the algorithms are not, and have never worked in our favour so we already have to work twice as hard as small businesses that are owned by our white counterparts to get exposure. Please then, check out and follow our pages on Instagram ,Tik Tok and Facebook.

Are you a new or established black owned business or perhaps thinking or planning to set up one of your own? We'd love to hear your thoughts on this and your experiences!

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