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Road to Relevancy: Sensory and Tactile Routes

By: Abby Penning
Posted: June 7, 2011, from the June 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Of course, all beauty categories grow stagnant without innovation, and the ethnic hair care market is no exception. Recently, it’s been seeing growth in the interest of natural products, as well as evolving into a more mature segment.

“In the past few years, this market has become really aware of super foods and better eating, focusing on health and exercise and an overall healthier lifestyle to be able to look and feel good,” explains Tollerson. “To translate that into hair care, there’s a focus on ingredients you see in foods and on grocery store shelves, natural ingredients to help achieve the healthiest hair possible.” “In terms of trends, many of our new products are focused on naturals, and more particularly, super fruits,” agrees Durham. “People have been hearing about the benefits of eating super fruits for some time now, and we’re seeing that what’s good for the body is good for the hair. Incorporating super fruits into our formulations is helping us deliver these naturally abundant benefits to hair.” Of the company’s Twisted Sista line, which recently launched in the U.S., Durham notes, “We’ve reformulated our product line with a few key ingredients, such as antioxidant-rich green tea, lychee extract, argan oil and vitamin E. We’ve also made sure they are sulfate- and paraben-free.”

Once again, it goes back to a base of healthy hair, and many consumers find it easier to trust a product that uses natural ingredients. “The most beautiful hair is the healthiest hair, and the health of hair is a reflection of one’s general health,” explains Majeed. “Natural ingredients protect, nourish and strengthen hair for maximum beauty, health and shine, and they effectively help in conditioning, cleansing and styling of hair.” Because of past hair damage issues and the consumer tendency to easily switch brands, developing efficacious products that ethnic hair care customers can trust will help develop and instill brand loyalty.

Market Evolution

As more companies enter the ethnic hair care market, brands will begin to need to sharpen their focus in order to differentiate themselves, and that sharp focus should consistently rely on meeting customer needs. Majeed says, “Adopting a customer-focused business ethos is a proven method to a profitable, and sustainable, future. Sabinsa is continually researching the evolving needs and preferences of the ethnic communities in the global population in order to make ingredients available to manufacturers that align their brands with that market’s requirements.”

But how do brand owners know where to look to next for market demands and changes? Tollerson notes that she often looks at international trends. “With the Internet, we can see trends and styles move so fast, so we watch the global marketplace—including Europe, South Africa, Brazil—to see what’s happening.”