SELLING TO THE ETHNIC MARKET
Byline: Julia Fellers / Sarah Conly / Lynne Richardson / Emily Holt
Manufacturers have been showing greater interest in developing the ethnic beauty market. Last fall, Milani expanded from a lip and nail company to offering a full color collection. AM Cosmetics is using newly acquired demographic data to help build distribution of its Black Radiance and Tropez brands. And many brands, such as Black Opal, have received a facelift. Meanwhile, consolidation of hair care brands continued this year with the acquisition of Pro-Line Corp. by Alberto-Culver and of Carson Products by Cosmair, as larger hair care companies angle to build ethnic businesses.
But how are ethnic brands being handled at the store level? To find out, WWD sent reporters from Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta to take a look. Below are glimpses of merchandising trends in those markets.
ATLANTA — Atlanta, with a five-county metropolitan area of around 3.5 million, has a growing and increasingly diverse population, particularly in the past decade.
Surveys below include two of the area’s most diverse counties: Fulton, which includes downtown, and DeKalb, which extends east and north of the city. African-Americans represent 54 percent of the Fulton County population, while they make up around 45 percent of DeKalb County. Hispanics, though still less than 4 percent of both county’s populations, are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the area. Figures are from the Georgia Institute of Technology State Data and Research Center.
All stores — grocery, discount and drugstores — in the areas surveyed focus more on hair care than cosmetics for the ethnic customer. Hair care has more floor space, product and display. Cosmetics, while varying from store to store, are generally more limited in both selection and display. Ethnic-oriented cosmetics are better represented at specialty cosmetics stores.
Three primary cosmetics lines targeting ethnic customers — Black Opal, Dark and Lovely, and Milani — are represented in several Atlanta stores. But displays are usually tucked away in the back of the cosmetics department, and the selection is meager compared with popular national brands.
In many stores, marketing efforts of national brands give a nod to ethnic customers, mostly through photo displays with model celebrities such as Tyra Banks, singer Brandy, Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek and Halle Berry.
Stores in a Northeast area of Atlanta, a growing Hispanic neighborhood, contain no Hispanic-oriented product. However, African-American hair care is represented, along with cosmetics, to varying degrees.
In this neighborhood, Drug Emporium has the best selection for ethnic cosmetics, with Cub Foods grocery store offering the least. Hair care for the African-American market is well represented in all stores, with a wide range of products from relaxers to conditioners to oils, often displayed in separate areas. Displays often include promotional coupons for discounts or two-for-one items.
At Kmart, in this neighborhood, the only ethnic-oriented cosmetics line is Black Opal, with a separate display at the front of two cosmetics aisles, including fliers for the Black Opal Achiever Awards college scholarship program. But despite the prominent display, selection was skimpy, with limited offerings of foundation, lipstick and eye shadow.
National brands, such as Cover Girl, Revlon and Maybelline, advertise with multicultural models, suggesting products for different ethnicities, but products are not specified or given separate space.
Hair care is a different story. Kmart dedicates an entire aisle to African-American hair products. Popular brands include Dark and Lovely, Soft Sheen, Revlon, African Pride and others. Coupons for percentage reductions and two-for-one deals were scattered throughout the wide selection of shampoos, oils, relaxers and color kits.
At nearby Sally Beauty Supply, around half of all hair care products target African-Americans, with advertising in the window and throughout the store. One entire aisle includes Dark and Lovely, Soft Sheen, Revlon and African Pride, as well as Sheenique, Motions, African Royale and many more.
All Dark and Lovely color kits, including Diva, include attached hair samples, which are absent in Kmart’s displays. Hair accessories, including combs, rubber bands and incense, are mixed in with relaxer kits, dyes, hair sprays, oils and braid protectors. A secondary display focuses entirely on relaxer kits.
At Cub Foods, in the same shopping center with Drug Emporium and Sally’s Beauty Supply, the only makeup was a single aisle of Cover Girl products, with nothing specific for ethnic customers. A small hair section, designated for African-Americans, is hard to find, but offers Dark and Lovely, Soft and Beautiful, African Pride, Just for Me and Soft Sheen, with a few tubes of skin discoloration fade cream offered nearby.
At Drug Emporium, a Milani display advertised products for “women of all colors,” but targets African-Americans primarily. Maybelline, Oil of Olay, L’Oreal, Almay and other well-known brands feature a culturally diverse group of models above product displays. A Milani display is tucked in the back corner of a large makeup section, with testers. Black Opal is also represented, in another back corner. Despite a poor location, selections are strong for these brands, with vibrant eye-catching colors. Dark and Lovely makeup is displayed next to Black Opal.
Ethnic hair care products are prominently displayed at the front of the store, near the entrance. Brands include Soft Sheen, Isoplus, Luster’s Pink and others. A secondary display for Dark and Lovely’s Diva line is included in the area for regular shampoos and conditioners.
In another area of town, Stone Mountain, a growing area for upper-middle-class African-Americans, ethnic hair care still is more prominent than makeup. A new Target Super Store has a limited offering of ethnic cosmetics. National cosmetics brands — Revlon, L’Oreal, Cover Girl and Maybelline — all offer liquid foundations and powders in deep shades, with African-American models prominent in signage, but specifically ethnic lines are scarce. A limited selection of Black Radiance nail polish is available in a special promotional display featuring various sale items.
Ethnic hair care products, grouped at the end of a general hair care aisle, represent approximately one-fourth of total available hair products. Various key brands — Soft Sheen, Pro Line, African Pride and Optimum Care — offer moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, relaxers, gel pomade and shine enhancers. New products include a “frizz ease” and a relaxer by Alternatives, an herbal division of Soft Sheen.
Wal-Mart, also in Stone Mountain, had one ethnic cosmetics line, Zuri: For the Woman of Color, located at the end of one of four aisles dedicated to cosmetics displays. Zuri products include lipsticks, pressed powder, cream makeup and liquid makeup.
The large cosmetics lines — L’Oreal, Revlon, Cover Girl, Maybelline, Almay, Neutrogena and Oil of Olay — all offer various items suitable for the ethnic consumer, along with ethnic models pictured in displays. Ethnic shades of foundation or powder are mixed in with other shades.
Ethnic hair products, grouped together in an aisle of general hair care products, represent approximately one-eighth of the total hair care merchandise at this Wal-Mart. Products include African Pride relaxer and hot oil; Luster’s Pink relaxer, holding spray and sheen spray; Dark and Lovely relaxer and conditioner, and various brands of hair balm and leave-in conditioner.
In another part of town, Dunwoody, a DeKalb county suburb around 30 miles north of downtown, an Ulta3 Cosmetics and Salon offers a few ethnic cosmetic lines, displayed prominently among other large general market lines.
A promotional section for Iman Cosmetics, with display posters of Asian, African-American, Hispanic and Caucasian models, is integrated among special displays for Ultima, Color Me Beautiful and Studio Gear products. Products — cream-to-powder foundation and oil-free liquid makeup — are available in 15 shades, with around 11 for darker skin tones.
A special promotional display for Black Opal, located on an aisle dedicated to other seasonal promotions, houses junior-oriented products — lip gloss, eye shadow, lip pencil and eye pencil — along with applications for the Black Opal scholarship contest. A second regular display of Black Opal on another aisle is filled with smaller general cosmetics lines and includes liquid foundation, creme and powder foundations, lipstick and various powders.
Ethnic hair care products, representing around one-tenth of total hair care merchandise, are integrated in a two-aisle section of general hair products. Lines represented include Luster’s Pink, Soft Sheen, Revlon and Dark and Lovely.
DALLAS — Hispanics have overtaken African-Americans as the largest minority group in the Dallas market.
There is also a growing Asian presence, something retailers are surely aware of. However, while products designed for African-American hair and skin are generally well represented, there is little evidence of product geared for Asian women, who possess specific hair needs, or Hispanic women, who presumably use product targeted at the general market.
Walgreens has recently expanded its presence in the Dallas region and a new store in the growing, upscale Uptown district sports a good selection of African-American hair care products, taking up a quarter of the shelf space in the section. Dark & Lovely hair color and relaxers are well represented, with Pro-Line, African Pride and Lusters also featured for men and children. Alongside them are appropriate shades of Clairol and Revlon colors, interspersed with spritzes, gels, oils and anti-frizz products.
Eckerd’s new store in Oak Cliff, a predominantly black neighborhood of Dallas, caters even more directly to the African-American shopper. The store features a freestanding island dedicated to people of color, with hair and skin care products, cosmetics and toiletries brightly displayed. The J.C. Penney-owned chain has a small selection of Belleza Latina skin care products for Hispanics — the only such items found in any of the stores researched — but features an African-American model on the cover of its in-house magazine, stacked close by.
Eckerd’s stocks Black Radiance and Black Opal cosmetics and Ambi toiletries. All the usual brands of relaxers, colors and treatments can be found, including TCB, Raveen and Optimum. However, the men’s and children’s selection is small.
Eckerd’s Spring Coupons Book also offers $1-off coupons for Pro-Line, Luster, Dark & Lovely, TCB and Diva hair products and Opal skin care products. No other store visited featured African-American products in its flyer.
The Tom Thumb supermarket in Oak Cliff offers no more than a small selection of hair care for African-Americans, with prices above drugstore level, while the big, new Albertsons supermarket does much better.
Located almost on the border between white and black neighborhoods, Albertson’s has cosmetics for dark skins integrated on the cosmetics shelves, but an extensive selection of ethnic hair care has its own section. Here, men’s hair care is almost as well served as the ladies, from old-style Murray’s pomade in a tin to shaving powders. Ambi skin care is found on these shelves, too.
Discount store Kmart in Irving, a mixed suburb near Dallas-Fort Worth airport, has a very poor selection of hair care products for African-Americans in a separate aisle from other hair care items. This is very confusing, as L’Oreal’s Feria line features black and Asian models on some of its boxes, which are in the regular hair care section.
Fazio Bros., another discounter in Irving, has a great selection at considerably cheaper prices than most other stores. Le Kair is most strongly represented, along with all the major brands, including Revlon and a small range of Ambi skin products.
Despite the wide availability of product found in these stores, some African-American shoppers interviewed said they still preferred to shop at beauty and barber supply stores for some favorite labels not found on the mass shelves, such as Pro-Line’s Botanicals Oil.
LOS ANGELES — Navigating culturally diverse Hollywood’s chain stores for ethnic hair and cosmetic products will likely lead to one place: a mixed selection at the end of the beauty aisle. Most retailers offer a variety of brands, African Pride and Soft Sheen being the most largely represented, but few products.
Most commonly, ethnic hair products like Dark & Lovely’s Deep Conditioning Relaxer and African Pride’s Magical Gro Hair Strengthener are found shelved together at the end of long uniform rows of pastel shampoo bottles. Chain supermarkets Ralphs and Albertson’s devote little shelf space to specifically ethnic items and offer no aisle heading. While Sav-On Drugs and Kmart exhibit similar merchandising techniques, they place products in aisles marked “Ethnic Hair Care” separate from mainstream shampoos and conditioners. Other frequently sighted brands include Soft Sheen, Pink and Soft & Beautiful.
Of the stores visited, only discounters Kmart and Target offer ethnic cosmetics lines. Target merchandises the two lines it carries, Tropez and Black Radiance, under the heading “It’s New at Target” right next to the Max Factor display.
Kmart offers the line Black Opal featuring face powders, foundations and lipsticks along with Tropez products.