African Americans are leveraging digital platforms and technology to move from consumers to creators of platforms, products, content and financial ecosystems, reports Nielsen in its report From Consumers to Creators: The Digital Lives of Black Consumers. Nielsen’s study has found that their influence on the economy and pop culture has been intensified by participation in the digital universe and adoption of social media and technology platforms.

“African Americans are leveraging innovations in technology and the anonymity of social platforms to level the playing field and get ahead in a marketplace unencumbered by corporate scrutiny,” says Cheryl Grace, senior vice president of U.S. strategic community alliances and consumer engagement, Nielsen. “African American influence has long resonated cross-culturally, and now it’s being delivered directly from creator to consumer. Give talented, creative people unobstructed access to the world stage and, inevitably, they will shine.”

The study found that African Americans have the highest smartphone ownership and usage of any demographic group, and that streaming is a primary source of entertainment for African Americans. They stream videos more frequently on all devices than the total population, especially on phones. And shopping habits are also shifting to digital, according to the report; Nielsen notes that this is an especially important trend for brands as African American consumers’ buying power currently stands at $1.3 trillion and is expected to grow to $1.54 trillion by 2022.

“The breadth of Black America’s digital footprint has grown exponentially with the rise of smartphone technology and increased access to new mediums for content exchange,” says Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code and a Nielsen External Advisory Council member. “The access to technology among Black consumers is a lightning rod for innovation that’s opening doors of opportunity to creativity, entrepreneurship and financial independence.”

Nielsen’s report was presented earlier this month at the Congressional Black Caucus 48th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. The full report can be downloaded here.