By  on October 1, 2010

NEW YORK — The ethnic personal care business is once again getting attention from mass-market retailers. One reason for the interest is the success of companies such as Dr. Miracle’s.

Now Dr. Miracle’s is hoping to grow even stronger with a new chief executive officer at the helm and a cadre of new products designed to address the needs of women — and men — of color.

Stepping into the ceo role is Randy Zeno, a 25-year veteran of the consumer products industry with a résumé that includes Nabisco and Sara Lee. He succeeds Brian K. Marks, the architect of Dr. Miracle’s recent growth, who will continue to consult for the brand.

Zeno’s experience in the mass market has educated him about the constant race for shelf space and now he’s merging that knowledge with the emotional lure of beauty products. “These products are also about how they make you feel. We are getting into the hearts and minds of consumers with what resonates with them on an emotional level,” explained Zeno, who sees hair and skin care for women of color as “an up-and-coming business.”

As with many product categories, the attention retailers have paid to the ethnic personal care market has ebbed and flowed in cycles. Growth and square-footage expansion was huge in the Eighties as new hair products emerged tailored for the needs of black men and women. Then the pendulum swung back as many African-American consumers opted for general market products. Now, technology and product advancements are pulling them back to specific product lines. Also, there’s no denying the power of an attractive African-American First Lady and the ongoing popularity of black celebrities.

At the same time, buyers have much better data to understand who is shopping their stores. Before, it was hit or miss on whether a store deserved a large ethnic set or not. Now, retailers can pinpoint exactly which units need more products. Retailers now really understand the category, Zeno said. One chain, in fact, has 40 different blueprints for how deep the store needs to be in ethnic products. Zeno also believes the timing is right to add more ethnic products to help deliver attractive profit margins at a time when chains are looking for avenues to boost the bottom line.

Mass market retailers appear to be making inroads on driving shoppers back to their stores for ethnic needs, rather than a special stop at a beauty supply store. “What we see in America is that people are cross shopping — dollar stores, mass and beauty supply. Mass retailers do have the foot traffic so they are poised to capture sales,” said Zeno.

That’s all good news to Zeno, who feels Dr. Miracle’s has promising new products to serve the market. While Dr. Miracle’s has established a foothold in hair care, Zeno thinks there’s synergy with skin care. Currently, there are few lines targeted to women of color.

To that end, the company is launching My Miracle Face Care, which includes natural ingredients such as soy and shea butter and vitamins C, B3 and E. There’s a facial cleanser, a toner, a moisturizer with SPF 15, a Night Treatment Facial Moisturizer and a Self Cooling Facial Mask. Prices range from $5.99 to $7.99. There’s also a new follicle healer collection, a four-item line designed to give life and vitality to damaged scalp follicles.

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