Retailers eye trends in multicultural hair care

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Retailers eye trends in multicultural hair care

By Nora Caley - 05/30/2019
Want to get more involved with the booming, yet changing, multicultural beauty category? Welcome to the club.

From porosity tests and co-washing to competition from Korean-American-owned beauty supply stores, retailers have much to consider if they want to compete in this market, which some industry officials said is growing at a consistent double-digit annual rate.

So, the onus is on those retailers that want to succeed in the category. First, they need to stay up-to-date on category trends. Second, they need to promote the fact that they carry these items in store. Third, they need to give the category the right amount of space to satisfy the consumers’ different needs and demands in the market.

Meanwhile, they also need to keep a close eye on competitors in the area and see just what they are doing to gain the consumer’s attention in this category.

“We are seeing [that] the multicultural consumer is increasingly relevant to retailers today,” said Rahul Chaudhary, CEO North America of Chicago-based Namaste Labs, which makes ORS Hair Care products. “We have seen the spending power of this consumer segment grow pretty dramatically.”

That is especially true for hair care products. Growth in this segment is being driven by, among other trends, consumers’ changing attitudes about how much they should do to their hair as multicultural shoppers are more interested in keeping their hair in a natural state. “[They] are willing to pay more than the general market for their hair,” Chaudhary said. “They are very engaged with their hair, and want to express themselves without damaging their hair.” One way to do that, he said, is through wigs and weaves, and ORS Olive Oil Fix-It brand is launching those products.

In addition to expressing themselves, consumers also want to take care of their hair, and they are going online to find more information. One topic that is earning much attention online is porosity, or hair’s ability to absorb moisture. Porosity tests include a float strand test, in which the person takes a hair from her comb and puts it in a bowl of water. If the strand sinks quickly, the hair has high porosity. If the strand floats, it has low porosity.

“Retailers need to understand porosity because consumers are researching it,” said Psyche Terry, founder of UI Global Brands based in Frisco, Texas. “This market is heavily trend focused and heavily swayed, and they purchase based on what they learned. If they don’t find it in retail, they will make it themselves.” Urban Hydration, a brand of UI Global Brands, launched its Honey Collection for low-porosity hair.

Plant-based ingredients are very on-trend right now. “I am seeing more competitors moving into ingredient stories,” Terry said. “They are saying ‘This is what honey does for your hair,’ or ‘This is what eucalyptus does for your skin.’”

Natural Ingredients
Natural and organic beauty products and multipurpose beauty products are among the hottest trends, said Juan Morillo, brand ambassador and product specialist at OKAY Pure Naturals in Miami Gardens, Fla. “Customers want beauty products without harsh chemicals, such as sulfates and parabens,” he said. “They want products that will nurture, nourish and improve their hair and skin, and the answer to that is found today in natural products.”

Shoppers in the multicultural space are looking for natural products that feature such ingredients as shea butter, coconut oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, neem oil, witch hazel, aloe, peppermint and honey. “These natural ingredients are chock-full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that help resolve certain issues like dry skin and brittle hair,” Morillo said.

The do-it-yourself trend has been growing over the last few years, Jolorie Williams, vice president of marketing at Creme of Nature/Revlon, said. Multicultural consumers go online to research ingredients, then shop for different bases and ingredients they can mix and match to detoxify and cleanse their hair. The brand recently launched the Clay and Charcoal line to make the at-home process easier. The collection features such natural ingredients as rhassoul clay, bentonite clay, activated charcoal, certified shea butter and coconut oil.

“Multicultural consumers are extremely involved in learning and knowing what ingredients are being used on their hair,” Williams said. “They are actively researching and educating themselves about the most innovative and newest ‘it’ ingredient that promotes overall hair health and growth, and prevents breakage.”

Those ingredients include argan oil in Creme of Nature with Argan Oil from Morocco, honey in the Pure Honey line, certified shea butter and coconut oil. Another trend in the marketplace is scalp health. “Based on our extensive research in the market, opportunities to formulate natural products to promote scalp health are immense and growing rapidly in the space, in addition to improving overall hair health and growth,” Williams said.

Function over form
Natural products and natural hair are important trends in multicultural beauty. “What we have seen most in all parts of the world is the search for products and natural results,” said Inocencia Manoel, founder of Inoar Professional Hair Products in Miami. “A great example of this is that curly hair is back again.” Manoel also said that Inoar already had anticipated this trend with its Divine Curls Collection.

Consumers also are looking for products that have a story, Manoel said. Inoar soon will bring vegan lines to the United States — an extension of the company’s policy of never testing products on animals. Later this year, Inoar will bring a coconut collection formulated with coconut oil in a 100% botanical and vegan formula, and with ingredients that moisturize and enhance hair growth, to the United States.

Products that promote growth and moisture are the hottest segment in multicultural beauty now, said Malinda Edwards, brand innovations manager at Mielle Organics in Crown Point, Ind. “Consumers are focusing on strength, hydration and moisture,” she said. The brand offers the Moisture Rx Collection, designed to provide intense hydration locking moisture into every hair strand.

Moisturizing and enhancing hair growth are goals for many consumers, and some manufacturers are positioning their products as having broader appeal than the multicultural audience. “People are finally realizing you don’t need to be a multicultural brand or a general market brand, so to speak,” said Jim Travagline, founder of Sashapure, a Red Lodge Beauty brand. “You can be a brand that speaks to hair problems, whether that’s hair repair or whatever the case may be.”

Consumers look for these products within the health and beauty aisle or in the natural sets — always in the multicultural beauty area, Travagline said. “You look at what the problem is with your hair, and you look for the company that you know that makes something for your hair.” Sashapure, which offers hair care products made with USDA-certified organic and sustainably harvested sacha inchi oil, plans to launch a skin care line in 2020.

Products that help to detoxify skin, hair and scalp, including charcoal and African black soap, also are on-trend now. “Consumers are focused on wellness, and scalp care is at the root of healthy hair,” said