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Eco Attributes Reinvent the Ethnic Hair Care Segment

By: Elle Morris
Posted: June 7, 2011, from the June 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The popularity of organic and natural ethnic hair care products has translated to the retail environment too, with major mass retailers such as Target dedicating more shelf space to ethnic organic beauty products and going beyond traditional relaxers to offer more premium options traditionally sold only through specialty outlets, including Miss Jessie’s Curls and the Jane Carter Solution line. Organic ethnic hair care products are also making appearances on TV home-shopping networks like HSN and QVC.

Ethnic hair care has come a long way from lye relaxers, and the relevance of natural positioning is not expected to fade anytime in the near future. In fact, as more brands leverage eco-attributes and natural positioning, the multicultural, or “multitextural,” consumer is likely to get more attention at mass, with more marketing spending dedicated to address the specific hair care needs of blended consumers.

Further, the term “ethnic” will become more antiquated during the next decade, as brands become more global and consumers outside the U.S. resonate less with the term. The saturation of this segment will continue, and in an effort to relate more authentically to their consumers, ethnic hair care brands are also more likely to incorporate greater cultural relevance in communicating with their consumers across marketing channels such as social media, direct mail and TV. Additionally, there will likely be further leveraging of word-of-mouth as a key influencer via product sampling and health-related education.

As more products are introduced into the ethnic hair care segment with similar claims, ethnic consumers can look forward to greater innovation related to the performance of organic lines with less concern for traditional ingredients. As the unique relationship between ethnic consumers and their hair continues, they will also continue to purchase many different products in an effort to find one that is effective. However, brands that do succeed in connecting with this consumer and empower her to make more informed choices are likely to benefit for many years to come.

Elle Morris is the vice president and general manager of LPK Beauty, overseeing its general business management and serving as chief customer officer. She provides strategic oversight on businesses in the categories of hair care, feminine care and beauty. Morris has worked with partners in North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe to develop an understanding of beauty’s power across cultures.