Multicultural consumers are transforming the mainstream. Fueled by population growth and increased buying power, they are re-shaping the way marketers and advertisers are using culture to connect with a diverse consumer population. Brands are challenged to appeal to consumers whose experience spans both individual heritage and popular American culture. “Since cosmetics and hair care marketers are directly addressing the unique needs of individuals, this undercurrent of change is particularly strong in the beauty industry. Understanding the nuances of multicultural markets, yet maintaining inclusive brand message is essential for brands to thrive in our increasingly multi-ethnic economy,” explains Andrea Van Dam, CEO of Women’s Marketing.
Until recently, consumers found relatively few beauty and personal care items formulated exclusively for women of color. Although the number of products aimed at multicultural consumers is steadily increasing—according to market intelligence consultancy Kline & Company, in 2014, the multicultural beauty market grew at 3.7 percent in the U.S.—but it may not be happening fast enough. Research found that three quarters of African American women wish that more companies made personal care products, hair products, and cosmetics that both fit their needs and celebrate their natural beauty.
“The multicultural dynamic currently accounts for more than a third of the U.S. population and their spending power is growing exponentially. We’ve seen success with brands such as Carol’s Daughter, a natural haircare brand specializing in meeting the needs of the multi-cultural consumer, and Shea Moisture, who is crafting skincare, hair care, and color cosmetics specifically for multi-cultural consumers,” says Van Dam.
While more emerging brands targeting specific demographics are appearing in the marketplace, mainstream and premium brands have an opportunity to re-think their business models to deliver on multiple groups simultaneously. “Living Proof and M.A.C. cosmetics are examples of beauty brands that are getting it right,” observes Van Dam. “Living Proof developed a line of products formulated to address the challenges of all women with curly hair and backs up its inclusive branding with ethnically diverse models. M.A.C. consistently offers a wide range of make-up and brand ambassadors that reinforce their commitment to diversity,” she says.
Van Dam sees endless opportunity for brands to adopt marketing strategies that appeal to a wide range of women—provided they deliver a culturally significant message in the right place, at the right time. “Now, more than ever, brands have the ability to target and engage with consumers and receive immediate feedback on their products and marketing. Employing strategic advertising initiatives across multiple verticals will be essential to long-term success,” Van Dam explains.
“Understanding the cultural essence that drives consumer behavior and adjusting to these needs will be key for brands as they move forward in a multi-cultural economy,” explains Van Dam. “This blurring of lines between groups is just the beginning. In a generation, we probably won’t be talking about the multi-cultural consumer anymore—we’ll just be referring to them as consumers.”
Is your brand reaching across cultures? Contact Women’s Marketing to tap into opportunities to speak to consumers when, and where, they’re most receptive to your message with our media planning and strategy services.
(If you're looking for more information about beauty and skin care marketing trends, we've previously looked at related topics in beauty consumer purchasing trends and a two-part analysis of hair care market trends: Hair Care Market Trends - Part 1 and Hair Care Market Trends - Part 2.)
Sources: Kline & Company Multicultural Beauty and Grooming Products, October 2014; Mintel Black Consumers Beauty and Grooming Products September 2014