Culturally Relevant Messaging Absent in Marketing to Black Consumers

While black consumers love trying new products and experimenting with their appearance, states Mintel, they under-index when it comes to anti-aging products. Indeed, just 36% of black consumers (vs. 48% of white consumers) report using anti-aging facial moisturizers, and four in 10 (41%) don’t use any type of anti-aging facial skin care product at all—a number that drops to 35% for white consumers. However, it seems the hair care market is one area where the opposite is true, as new research from Mintel reveals that 42% of black consumers have tried or would be interested in trying anti-aging hair products.

In keeping with the trend of combating the effects of aging, 30% of black consumers have used or are interested in hair care products that treat baldness and thinning, while 46% have used or would be willing to try color or tint products.

Tonya Roberts, multicultural analyst at Mintel, says: “Historically, black consumers are not necessarily looking for the fountain of youth. They tend to embrace aging more so than other consumers. Those who use anti-aging products are motivated by different factors. In most cases, blacks aren’t typically proactive when it comes to anti-aging, rather they are very reactionary. But in the hair care category, it’s different. The movement toward natural hair—whether natural hair weave or all-natural styles—is making blacks a lot more conscious about the ingredients they put in their hair. They are looking for ingredients that are natural, restore damaged hair, and make their hair healthy—and they’re looking for results. Anti-aging products that include natural ingredients and promise to deliver on restoration are sure to appeal to black shoppers.”

Mintel estimates that the black hair care market (defined as hair care products formulated for and specifically marketed to black consumers) is up 2.5% from last year, and is estimated to reach $774 million* by the close of 2014. Shampoo, conditioner, styling products, and hair color segments have experienced steady increases, which may be due to fewer salon visits, availability of black brands in mainstream stores and the natural hair trend. Two-thirds (67%) of black women and 77% of black consumers overall have worn a natural hairstyle in the past year, suggesting that the trend toward natural styles shows no signs of slowing down.

Two thirds (66%) of those surveyed plan to wear a natural hairstyle within the next year. Men are more likely than women to say this, but 58% of women say they plan to wear a natural hairstyle. About one third (27%) are planning to go totally natural (no relaxer, color, or extensions), and 17% will add color to their natural hair. One out of 10 of women are planning to wear twists (11%), natural braids (10%) or long locs (10%).

“Despite the steady growth the black hair care market has enjoyed in recent years, and the proliferation of brands for natural and chemically treated black hair, many black consumers still struggle with finding products that work well. Part of the challenge is that many companies aren’t marketing their products to blacks using the right casting and culturally relevant messaging. There’s an opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to spur growth by addressing some of the untapped markets—men, children, anti-aging products, multiracial, healthier straightening options, etc.,” Tonya concludes.

* excludes sales of hair weave, wigs, sales from independent beauty supply stores.

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