The Growing Market Clout of Evangelicals

 Posted by on 12 December 2005 at 11:05 am  Religion
Dec 122005

The Economist reports that mainstream corporate America has recently discovered the immense market clout of Evangelical Christians and is starting to pay more attention to this hitherto neglected market segment. A couple of interesting facts from the article:

Christian radio has seen its market share expand from 2.2% in 1999 to 5.5% today. The Association of American Publishers reports that the market for religious books grew by 37% in 2003. The definition of religious books is vague–but religious publishing is undoubtedly growing much faster than the industry as a whole.

Even if the religious bit of the media industry is still relatively small, it accounts for a disproportionate share of the “mega-hits”. The Left Behind series of novels on the end of days has brought in $650m. Bantam Dell, a mainstream publisher owned by Germany’s Bertelsmann, has reportedly paid Tim La Haye an advance of $45m for the next series. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, an evangelical preacher, is the best-selling hardcover book in American history, with more than 25m copies sold. Christian blockbusters are dragging a huge flotilla of other Christian products in their wake–from “praise the Lord backpacks”, in camouflage colours, to Christian dieting books such as Don Colbert’s What Would Jesus Eat.

The reason the religious market is booming is simple: religious America is booming. John Green, of the University of Akron in Ohio, calculates that there are 50m Evangelicals in America. He argues that Evangelicals are growing as a share of the population. They are also getting richer, in part because the Evangelical heartland of the South is booming and in part because richer people are joining the cause.

From all indications, this influence is only going to continue to grow over the next several years.

(If I were an unscrupulous atheist looking to make a dishonest buck, I’d think pretty hard about starting a bogus Christian rock band, just like Eric Cartman in South Park episode 709!)

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha