Newspapers retain a crucial role in the automotive purchasing decisions of most American consumers, and that’s one big reason for the success of African Americans on Wheels. The six-times-a-year magazine now reaches nearly three million people, including pass-along, in zip codes with 70 percent-plus African Americans and $50,000-plus average household incomes.
Randi Payton became the first magazine entrepreneur to recognize and take advantage of how car markets vary by ethnicity when he launched African Americans On Wheels in 1995, as a supplement to dozens of minority-owned and other community newspapers. More recently, he has added major metro dailies in the Washington Post, Detroit Free Press and Detroit News.
"Most of these newspapers had church, sports, social and entertainment news, but very few of them had automotive content," recalls Payton, who was an automotive journalist in Washington. Besides understanding how to reach African American consumers, Payton understood how to make his editorial content appeal specifically to them. "If you’re using city streets, you’re more concerned about accelerating zero-to-40 than zero-to-60," he explains. "Also we focus on turning radiuses for making U-turns and fitting into tight parking spaces."
Payton believes his understanding of ethnic sensibilities will help his new magazines as well. He originally launched Latinos On Wheels in 2002. But it stalled because ad agencies were largely unreceptive. Now, Payton says, "agencies are adjusting to what the Latino or Hispanic consumer is all about." So the six-times-a-year Latinos on Wheels is set to launch with 400,000 newspaper readers this spring, while Payton is projecting 200,000 newspaper subscribers will see the upcoming Asians on Wheels.
VITAL STATS: African Americans On Wheels, the company’s flagship, has reached a circulation of 750,000, and new publications for Latinos and Asians are forthcoming.