Lets Talk Business: The Ethnic Haircare Market

ORS (Organic Root Stimulator) Hair Relaxer. ORS is one of the leading relaxer lines for 2008.

ORS (Organic Root Stimulator) Hair Relaxer. ORS is one of the leading relaxer lines for 2008.

To put it simply, the ethnic beauty market is a cash cow.
Market Research company Packaged Facts released a 2008 tally of the market’s standing.

In 2008 alone, ethnic haircare sales are expected to hit $1.4 billion. Since ethnic-specific haircare products are overwhelmingly targeted to African American consumers, it seems that the black dollar has accounted for much of the market’s success.

Can you guess what products are leading in sales?




Still, while relaxers dominate sales in the market, it seems that this product segment has lost a bit of momentum over the past several years. Between 2003 -2007 relaxer sales have fallen nearly five share-points.

It seems a number of black women are depending more on their conditioners or styling products to give them their desired look, or they are simply going natural — and  leaving relaxers on the shelves altogether.

Beauty and Convience- Duane Reade in downtown Brooklyn - photographed by Danielle Walker

Beauty and Convenience- Duane Reade in downtown Brooklyn - photographed by Danielle Walker


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How Black Women Are Beautifying – On A Budget!

photographed by Danielle Walker

Employees at FEEL BEAUTY SUPPLY STORE in Brooklyn decorate the store for the holidays. -photographed by Danielle Walker

Edress, 39- “I’m using up everything I have before buying anymore cosmetics.”

on how the economy’s changed her beauty routines: “It’s the same scaling back I should have been doing before the recession.”

Ria, 42- “I’m still going to buy my cosmetics,” said the Lancôme counter manager at the downtown Brooklyn Macy’s. “I’ll cut down on my usage.”

on buying cheaper/changing brands: “Going to something that might not work for me, will cost me more in the long run. It will tend to make me break out.”

Evelyn, 21- ” I’m a product junkie, but I prefer doing my hair myself,” said the college student while shopping in the Carol’s Daughter Harlem store.

on being a broke college student and still keeping up with her hair: “I make my own natural concoctions sometimes”

Amanda, 33– “If I can see you do it, I can do it myself,” she said while trying to find a holding spray for her short hair (to avoid going to the salon every week). The assistant in payroll accounts held out her manicured hands, “Last year I started doing it myself.”

on maintaining her short hair (cut a year 1/2 ago) : “I thought it would have been easier, but I’m comfortable with the way it is.”

Valerie, 50- “Because of my hair -it’s locked-I can do it myself,” she said in a local Duane Reade while shopping with her 16-year-old daughter for hair products. “It usually costs me $80, but it lasts for three months.”

With her?” she said pointing towards her teenager. “Its every two weeks. It costs me more.”

on having locks: “It’s easier to manage and cheaper.”

photographed by Danielle Walker

At BEAUTY LINE SUPPLY STORE in downtown Brooklyn. - photographed by Danielle Walker

photographed by Danielle Walker

At BEAUTY LINE SUPPLY STORE in downtown Brooklyn. - photographed by Danielle Walker

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At Carol’s Daughter

photographed by Danielle Walker

photographed by Danielle Walker

Before Thanksgiving, I took a trip over to a Carol’s Daughter vendor in the Brooklyn Atlantic Terminal mall. At the kiosk, the assistant manager (pictured above, with Carol’s Daughter product in-hair) told me about her own preference for at-home haircare.

She also revealed how much customers love shopping on-line and how the web’s accessibility can help save time and money.

Alot of people shop on HSN. We don’t even really give out catalogues anymore,” said the 23-year-old assistant manager. “We can’t keep things on-line. In the recession, people do more in the house- they cocoon themselves.”

A 2007 article also talks more about the benefits of shopping online:

“Savvy consumers today come to the store knowing as much, and sometimes more, about products and prices than those who actually work in the store. Armed with Internet-based information, this new breed of wired consumers often winds up with greater values than their fellow shoppers.

A new study by eMarketer predicts that 139 million Americans age 14 and older, or 78.5 percent of Internet users, will shop online in 2007, and this percentage is expected to rise to 80 percent by 2011. Moreover, the $1,000 average that each online shopper will spend this year will likely rise to $1,295 by 2009.”

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Buy Black- Buy Quality- Do It Yourself

Carol's Daughter Collection-Gorgeous Hair Tui

Carol's Daughter - Gorgeous Hair Tui Collection

Black-owned hair care businesses, like Carol’s Daughter and Miss Jessie’s, help keep black dollars in the community. Also, the benefit of shopping for products – made specifically for and by black women – gives consumers a chance to save long-term through buying quality over quantity.

Learning to care for tresses at home, is also another means of saving money and utilizing quality hair care products for yourself. Black women could greatly benefit from taking control of these markets that are specific to them, especially since the market depends largely on black consumers and their spending power.

I came across a 2007 article (from the New Pittsburgh Courier Online) that talks about the need for African American consumers to buy black:

BOBSA founder, Sam Ennon, said one of the biggest hurdles has been overcoming the Korean middleman.

“We have to buy directly from Koreans, and they don’t want to sell to us,” he said. Ennon said there are currently 9,000 beauty stores controlled by Korean wholesalers, only 1,000 of them are Black-owned.

Despite this, the Hunter-Miller Group, a Black-owned market research firm, reports that Blacks account for 30 percent of all hair care product purchases.

“The average annual expenditures by African-Americans on health and beauty aids are 11.2 percent higher than all races, estimated around $6 billion,” reported a market snapshot on Hunter-Miller’s Web site

In 2005 Blacks spent less on transportation, computers and books than on personal care products and services according to Target Market News.


Stewart Cohen/Blend Images/Corbis

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Poll on Black Women’s Spending Habits

An ING poll from September (which was also posted on Essence magazine’s website) reported that black women are big givers and spenders, but lag behind in accumulating funds for their savings. In the poll, 68% of black women said they would buy what they wanted in a good or bad economy:

Support of Others – Family, Friends and Church – Complicates Savings:

  • 47% of Black Women Say It is Difficult to Have Desired Lifestyle Because of Financial Obligations to Their Immediate Family
  • More Than a Third Have Loaned Over $1,000 to Friends or Family in Last Year
  • 71% Say It’s “Very Important” to Give Money to Their Place of Worship
And Spending Doesn’t Help Matters:
  • 68% of Black Women Buy What Thy Want in Good or Bad Economy
  • 41% Feel Guilty About How Much They Spend on Expensive Brands

Two in Five Report Total Savings of Less than $10,000

© Stockbyte

© Stockbyte

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