Sundial Brands founder and chief executive officer Richelieu Dennis and his family built the company’s business by breaking down barriers. His premise that the beauty industry should serve all women equally and provide ample access, inclusion and choice for women according to their needs, rather than separating out products in poorly assorted or under spaced shelf sets such as ethnic sections, has revolutionized the way retailers merchandise shelves.
Now Sundial, which got its start being sold on the sidewalks of New York, is taking its message to the streets with a multimedia effort behind its SheaMoisture franchise — one of the industry’s fastest-expanding brands. The first phase of the social media and television call-to-action campaign called #BreakTheWalls includes a 60-second short film, a 30-second spot, #BreakTheWalls digital and social assets and behind-the-scenes footage. The campaign features everyday women and beauty vloggers asking why the beauty items they want to buy aren’t in the beauty aisles.
“I have often said over the last 20 years that the beauty aisle is the last place in America where segregation is still legal, and separating ‘beauty’ from ‘ethnic’ has only served to further perpetuate narrow standards of what is considered beautiful in our industry and our society — which is why we began leading the efforts to break down those walls” Dennis said. “We’re advancing a mission and vision to change the social dialogue about how we’re looking at beauty as a society and how those archaic structures and views are debilitating to the establishment of new and more inclusive ways of viewing beauty — whether in the images we see or in the aisles that divide.”
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#BreakTheWalls is an extension of SheaMoisture’s focus on what it has coined as the New General Market and ensuring that all consumers, especially those who have been traditionally underserved, have an enhanced product and shopping experience based on being addressed according to their needs, not traditional segmentation. Sundial’s approach of problem-solution defined by inclusion and commonalities has shifted the way brands and retailers present products. One prime example is textured hair care, which used to be housed under “ethnic” banners and is now presented by attributes.
The brand issued a casting call for the film on its social media channels to its community members, often called SheaFam. They shared their personal hair stores, their frustrations with how products are presented in video vignettes. Influential beauty vloggers including Naptural85, SunKissAlba and MahoganyCurls also appear and relay their experiences.
“With SheaMoisture, we have built a successful brand by recognizing that beauty comes in every hair type, skin tone, shade, and feature and by honoring the natural beauty of every woman with natural products that address her individual needs and empower her to celebrate her unique journey,” Dennis said.
For the 12-week period ended Feb. 18, in drugstore doors tracked by IRI, SheaMoisture’s hair conditioner sales soared 30 percent to more than $10 million in a category where growth was held to under 2 percent.
Dennis acknowledged retailers’ efforts to embrace the New General Market approach to beauty that is bringing down the “arbitrary walls.” This is starting with increased efforts to enhance retailers’ e-commerce business assortments to reflect more inclusion in the near term, as well as listen and learn from consumers to determine the changes that are ultimately needed in stores.
Although starting with beauty, he said #BreakTheWalls will spur dialogue and action around other societal walls that “exists and that serve to divide rather than unite.”