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Looking Good: Appealing to Ethnic Consumers in the Beauty Aisle
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Looking Good: Appealing to Ethnic Consumers in the Beauty Aisle

There’s no denying that we all want to look and feel our best—a desire that often brings us to the health and beauty aisle. But this area of the U.S. retail market offers more than just skin creams and hair care products—it represents an opportunity for marketers looking to appeal to a diverse range of ethnicities with enormous spending power.

The numbers don’t lie, and size matters when companies craft their marketing strategies. For example, there are 43 million African-Americans in the U.S., representing 13.7% of the population, and they buy more hand and body lotions than the average consumer. Latinos, at 52 million strong, represent the fastest growing ethnic segment and are projected to have $1.5 trillion in spending power by 2015. South Asians and Chinese also account for a sizable portion of the North American population, as Nielsen projects this group to grow to 6.3 million in Canada alone by 2031.

All of these populations are dynamic, young and healthy, traits that are closely aligned with health and wellness. Fifty-four percent of the U.S. African-American population is under age 35. For Hispanics, that number is more than 75 percent of the U.S. population. Hispanics are also avid shoppers for health and beauty products, as six of the top 10 product categories for this demographic in 2011 included items like baby products, toiletries and grooming aids.

“Latinas are a lucrative consumer group for the beauty and health industry,” said Eva Gonzalez, Executive Director of Diverse Consumer Insights. “With a great spending power and high numbers on consumption for personal care products, they will generate substantial growth in these categories.”

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Skin Is a Win With U.S. African-Americans and Chinese Canadians

African-American consumers are very attuned to their skin. They buy more hand lotion, body lotion and all-purpose skin creams than the general population: 54 percent to 40 percent, respectively. Consumption of sunscreen among this group remains disproportionately low, however—representing an opportunity for a properly positioned product. While not well known, African-Americans are susceptible to sun damage, so savvy marketers may find opportunity with an educational campaign about the damaging effects of sun exposure.

Canadian Chinese consumers are keenly focused on looking good throughout the aging process, and typically choose quality over quick fixes. “This long-term approach is similar to the way Chinese medicine treats ailments,” said Bernice Cheung, Ethnic Practice Area Lead, Nielsen Canada. “Health and beauty is not only skin deep. It’s about maintaining a balance and being both internally and externally beautiful.”

By embracing the diversity of North American health and beauty consumers, marketers will be well positioned to win in this young and dynamic segment.

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The Importance of Great Hair

While preferences about health and beauty products vary among various ethnicities, there is one thing everyone overwhelmingly agrees about: the importance of a great head of hair.

African-American consumers lead the way in purchases in this category. African-American consumers spend more than nine times more on hair products than any other group. Companies that can clearly identify and promote hair care products that address the unique needs of this demographic can increase their presence and market share with it.

Latinas see hair color as an important and inexpensive path to self-expression and beauty, making hair care the second-most lucrative product category among Hispanics.

Canadian South Asians flock to scented hair oils, such as coconut, amla, and almond. These oils keep hair stronger, healthier looking, and darker. This category could potentially be an opportunity for mainstream retailers to explore.

By embracing the diversity of North American health and beauty consumers, marketers will be well positioned to win with these young and dynamic ethnic consumers.