Why L’Oreal Wants to Wipe Out the ‘Ethnic’ Beauty Aisle

“Everybody is talking about the evolution of the population, but it really is happening today.”
Publish date:
April 28, 2015
diversity, hair dye, L'oreal, Multicultural Beauty

If you live pretty much anywhere in America, you’re probably familiar with the concept of the “ethnic” aisle where drug stores and pharmacies stock hair products targeted to black and multi-ethnic shoppers. Some see this practice as a convenience, some as a subtle form of discrimination, and some as a linguistic absurdity (we all have an ethnicity.) When we spoke to Jodie Patterson of multi-ethnic beauty site DooBop she spoke of her frustration with being sent to the back of the store when looking for a new shampoo or hair treatment. Other women might not have even stopped to contemplate it.

Whatever your opinions on planogramming beauty norms as a shopper, for companies, it points to a missed opportunity to capitalize on the flourishing multicultural market. African-American, Hispanic and Asian shoppers spend more on hair and beauty than the general population. L’Oreal at least is realizing this, having recently unveiled a Multicultural Beauty Division that brings together their brands Carol’s Daughter and SoftSheen-Carson, WWD reports. It’s not just smart, it’s backed by science.

“Multicultural consumers may only be 39 percent of the total population now, but in 12 out of the 20 top cities, multicultural consumers are the majority and are representing 27 percent of the beauty spend,” said Nicole Fourgoux, general manager for L’Oréal Multicultural Beauty. “Everybody is talking about the evolution of the population, but it really is happening today.”

Research done by L’Oreal uncovered some not-too-shocking facts about the way we shop, including that there are gaps between what people want and what’s on shelves, and that not everyone is thrilled to be sectioned off from the hordes of blonde haired, blue eyed women silent shilling hair color. “Consumers seek solutions to hair conditions such as thinning or wavy,” says Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, a recent L’Oreal acquisition. Price cited research proving that people shop not by ethnicity but by need or hair type, such as thinning or wavy. In fact, 56 percent of those who buy her line HSN are Caucasian.

The brand now plans to school retailers on planogramming diversity, while marketing their current brands to women with all hair types. Whether drug stores will be jumping on board remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure — by the year 2043, there are going to be a lot less women identifying with the blonde women on hair dye boxes.


Reprinted with permission from Styleite. Want more? Check out these related stories from Styleite:

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