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The state of Black business in America: New survey finds progress, challenges

by | Aug 23, 2021 | Public Relations

How have consumers’ shopping habits changed since the racial reawakening that began in the United States last summer? New research from Groupon and the National Black Chamber of Commerce, in recognition of August’s National Black Business Month, finds that consumers are largely keeping their promises to spend a greater share of their wallet at Black-owned businesses, but challenges remain.

Nearly 80 percent of Black business owners said their businesses were better off than they were last year at this time, and nearly 60 percent said their business is as good or better than it was prior to the pandemic. Seven out of 10 consumers said that they actively sought out opportunities to shop at Black-owned businesses and an equal number plan to continue to do so long term. Nearly 70 percent of consumers also said they find it helpful when a business identifies as Black-owned and approximately 60 percent said they would be willing to pay more if they knew a small business was Black-owned.

More than half of all Black business owners said that while there’s more attention on the concerns and needs of businesses owned by people of color, the overall environment is still quite challenging. Roughly three out of four Black business owners said capital investment still lags in comparison to their white counterparts. In fact, gaining access to capital investment was the number one concern among the businesses surveyed. Their ability to tap into government resources, recover from the pandemic, build a support network and hire enough staff, were the other top concerns cited.

Ultimately, Black business owners indicated that the system that sets them up for success or failure still has a long way to go

More than 75 percent of those surveyed feel as though they’re held to a different standard, which makes launching and growing a business as an entrepreneur even harder.

“Groupon recognizes the importance of being a brand that lives by its values, taking a stand for what’s right and leveraging our influence to drive positive change within our communities,” said Aaron Cooper, interim CEO at Groupon, in a news release. “Every merchant has worked hard to build a business that they can be proud of, and it’s important for us to understand the systemic barriers and biases that exist for marginalized communities. As a company, we’re committed to highlighting and championing Black-owned businesses and connecting them to our diverse customer base. While we’re making progress, we recognize that we have more work to do.”

How Groupon is getting involved

Groupon is taking action in August and throughout the year to translate its support for Black-owned businesses into meaningful action:

  • The company has curated a collection of hundreds of Black-owned businesses across the United States and will be featuring these merchants across Groupon’s mobile, online and social channels throughout the month of August. In 2020, Groupon saw searches for “Black-owned” increase nearly 400 percent for the full-year vs. 2019. During Groupon’s 2020 Black Business Month campaign, units sold for businesses that identified as Black-owned and participated in the month-long event increased 44 percent compared to the previous month. To find Black-owned businesses that you can support in your community, please visit gr.pn/celebrate.
  • In addition, the company has partnered with Kiva.org––a renowned crowdfunding platform––to raise funds from consumers to support a Black-owned business fund that will help create opportunity and unlock investment capital for Black merchants across the U.S.
  • Groupon is also working with the National Black Chamber of Commerce to offer an online marketing and technology education session at the Illinois Chamber’s annual convention in September. The Groupon and chamber survey of Black-owned businesses identified social media, lack of a digital/online presence, consumer awareness, upfront costs and foot traffic as their biggest marketing challenges. Experts from Groupon will consult with business owners who are attending the convention.
  • On Aug. 22, Groupon is partnering with The Black Women’s Expo – BWE Next to feature 10 Groupon merchants as exhibitors. Each Black-owned business will have their own booth in the expo’s marketplace and Groupon will help promote and advertise their presence. Groupon will also have its own booth at the expo to help the company recruit diverse applicants from the estimated 30,000 attendees.
  • Finally, to help bring more attention to the disparities Black entrepreneurs face and resources available to help their businesses succeed, Groupon is joining forces with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to host a virtual panel discussion: Building Back Better: Charting Economic Recovery for the Black Business Community & Crafting the Roadmap for Access to Capital for Black Entrepreneurs. The discussion will take place on Aug. 25, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. CDT and will bring together a national audience of business, government and community leaders.

“Over the past year, we’ve made progress drawing attention to the needs and concerns of Black-owned businesses, but we know that we must do even better,” said Larry Ivory, chairman of the National Black Chamber of Commerce and president and CEO of the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce, in the release. “We’re grateful to companies like Groupon that are willing to listen to the concerns of our community and heed their responsibility to do more. By working together, we can help level the playing field for small Black-owned businesses, and we’re excited for Groupon to provide actionable and useful insights to our members.”

The state of Black business in America: New survey finds progress, challenges

Researchers spoke with 500 Black-owned small businesses and 1,500 consumers.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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