Ken Smikle, founder of Target Market News, a marketing research firm and publication that reported on Black buying power and advertising trends that target Black consumers, has sadly passed away. He was 66-years old and died in Chicago from congestive heart failure.
Ken was well-known and loved by all of his colleagues, which included Black business owners, marketers, advertising executives, and other researchers from all over the country.
In addition to publishing Target Market News, he frequently hosted forums and symposiums to discuss the latest trends in marketing to African Americans who now have an annual buying power of more than $1 trillion.
Earlier in his career
Ken started out as a journalist, and for more than 40 years years, he worked as a writer and editor for several major publications including Black Enterprise, Essence, The National Leader, and Amsterdam News. In 2006, his firm acquired Black Issues Book Reviewmagazine, the nation’s leading magazine on African-American book publishing, and Ken became the publisher. At the time, this made his firm the only media company devoted to the news and new works of Black authors.
He later went on to publish an annual "Black Buying Power" report for many years, until Forbes and University of Georgia Selig Center decided to copy what he was doing and steal the spotlight.
A well-respected entrepreneur
Derek T. Dingle, Senior Vice President of Black Enterprise, comments, “Ken was extremely fascinated, focused, and passionate about Black media and entrepreneurship and revealing how it was an economic force in this country... A dynamic editor and fierce debater with a strong point of view, he used his journalistic talents and analytical skills to build a business to educate the mainstream and elevate African Americans in the media space as well as advocate for respect for the impact and vitality of the black consumer market.”
Sunny C. Martin, founder of Who's Who Publishing Co. and The Urban Entrepreneur, comments, "Ken was a very intuitive demographer that added much value to the space of ethnic marketing engagement! He was an iconic trailblazer."
Dante Lee, founder of BlackNews.com and BlackPR.com, comments, "If it wasn't for Ken Smikle, we wouldn't have as much research as we have about the buying habits and trends of African American consumers. He was a very influential person in educating big companies about the value of Black consumers, and he made sure that corporate advertising dollars continued to flow to Black-owned magazines, newspapers, blogs, and events. He will be greatly missed in the industry, and as a friend."
A memorial service will be held for Ken Smikle on Saturday, September 22nd at Chicago Temple First United Methodist Church at 77 W Washington St in Downtown Chicago at 10am with a reception to follow. All are invited to attend.
His son, Jason, comments, "For those of you that knew my dad, you know he was happy, loving and full of energy so we are celebrating his life in that spirit."