Marla D. Currie


Urban Shoppers in the U.S. have a lot of buying power but traditionally have wielded little power as consumer markets. African-Americans and Hispanics together comprise a $2.3 trillion buying market according to the Selig Center for Economic Research. Social scientists and community activists have decried the fact that very little of the disposable incomes of multicultural groups stays in those communities, producing jobs and creating wealth.

The traditional activist solution to that dilemma has been a relatively weak political movement among African Americans, that is to "Buy Black". While the intent of the movement was a good one, Buy Black is too narrow a concept to offer any longterm and widespread benefits to a general economic betterment goal. Smarter Consumerism however recognizes the totality of the urban shopper experience beyond just buying at retail.

The recent housing market meltdown meant a lot of people who had taken their first steps on the road toward the American Dream have lost the footing that home ownership provided. This situation illuminated the need for a new strategy to accomplish these communities' age-old quest for a bigger share of the American Dream. Its the recognition of all the things large and small that contribute to an ability to successfully navigate the ebb and flow of the consumer marketplace.

The recognition by Blacks and Latinos of the importance of consumerism to both individual and group wealth-building goals reflects an important change in strategy. In today's complex consumer market, smarter consumerism recognizes the totality of the urban shopper experience beyond just buying at retail. Urban Shoppers are confronted with buying choices and issues across the breadth of the U.S. purchasing experience.

Mortgages, investments, saving, using coupons, the meaning of thrift these are all topics that have been neglected or not given enough attention in multicultural communities.  Health issues, global warming, product safety are all issues related to consumerism. Consumerism is a money skill.

Historically, Urban Shoppers have been on the receiving end of the worst of American consumerism. Thankfully, that's changing but the challenges of consumerism have never been greater. 

THE ABILITY TO REALIZE THE AMERICAN DREAM through greater success as consumers is a testament to these groups' ability to adapt and win in the consumer marketplace. Greater insight and information on consumerism issues might keep some of that $2.3 trillion in their personal wallets and as a result, monetize and reenergize urban communities.

Targeted Media Online is publisher of The Urban Shopper.