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Ethnic Skin Care: An Opportunity for Personal Connection

By: Elle Morris
Posted: December 6, 2010, from the December 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • Market research company Packaged Facts indicates the ethnic skin care market has grown 231% since 1990, and is reported to be worth $1.5 trillion globally.
  • Distinct differences between Caucasian and ethnic skin lead to the need for highly targeted skin care products for the ethnic consumer—an area in which the industry is currently lagging in product choices and understanding.
  • Ethnic consumers are replacing baby boomers as the critical growth demographic within the U.S. and U.K.

Women and men of certain ethnic descents need products from brand owners that address their unique needs. As this demographic continues to grow within the U.S., there is a pressing need for an array of products relevant to the needs of multicultural skin. However, this demographic trend has yet to fully resonate within the beauty market, both at mass and prestige.

Although ethnic skin care products exist, this growing consumer group continues to struggle to find skin care products that are optimal in addressing their particular needs. The opportunity for brands to connect with ethnic consumers is significant, a figure supported by a recent Smart Beauty study conducted by Essence magazine in which African-American women reported spending 80% more on cosmetics and nearly twice as much on skin care products than the general market.

According to The Nielsen Company, ethnic health and beauty products are among the categories predicted to grow most significantly, with ethnic consumers replacing baby boomers as the critical growth demographic within the U.S. and U.K. In fact, according to Packaged Facts, the ethnic skin care market in the U.S. has exploded during the previous two decades, growing 231% since 1990. In the U.K., the ethnic population is the fastest-growing segment of the population—with 12% of the total population, or 7.3 million people, being described as non-white. Yet, less than 1% of new beauty products address this group.

Ethnic Market Differences and Desires

So why, with all this data on growth and consumer need, does a relative absence of beauty choices, when compared to Caucasian-targeted products, continue to persist? It comes down to understanding the differences beyond what is used to typically define category norms: oily, normal or dry skin; younger skin versus aging skin; and sensitive versus normal skin. Women and men of color around the globe—whether they are described as Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, Asian or of African descent—experience distinctive skin-related issues, with the type and amount of pigmentation varying drastically between ethnic groups.