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Using the Right Language

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: September 28, 2006
Mikki Taylor, beauty director of Essence magazine, welcomed a distinguished panel to “Smart Beauty III: Speak to Me,” the third in a series of discussions that target beauty and retail decision-makers. The panel included Cheryl Hudgins Williams, associate director, global communications, Procter & Gamble Beauty; Iman, founder and CEO, Iman Cosmetics, Fragrances and Skincare; Charles Jamison, Jr., PhD, marketing consultant; Kelly Rowland, singer/actress; and Stephen Stoute, managing partner, Carol’s Daughter.

The discussion at New York’s W Hotel in Union Square focused on the importance of language and messaging when speaking to the modern African-American beauty consumer. Data presented by Essence showed that 94% of women surveyed said they used beauty as a form of self expression and that using positive and appropriate language can have a great impact on the consumer. “Language should communicate what the product does for you and should make a personal connection,” said Iman.

“We have to fight to make sure the language speaks to us authentically,” said Stoute. There was consensus that language must move from scientific to emotional to make the connection relevant, and that language that includes negative hair modifiers or implications of changing skin color were among the worst offenders. The presentation combined marketing, science and linguistics while revealing a critical need to shed outdated and alienating language.